Final credits for Youssef Chahine

Egyptian film-maker Youssef Chahine passed away the day before yesterday. You can find many elegies online. Personally, I consider "Bab Al Hadeed" one of the best movies I've seen--on a par with classic post-war Italian neo-realist films. His documentary on Cairo--"Al Qahera munwwara bi Ahlaha" ("Cairo Illuminated by its People") is a lovely, subtle, complex tribute to the city.  And he's authored many classics, like "Al Ard" and others I have to admit I haven't seen yet. But Chahine's later career has always struck me as a story of talent somehow squandered--I'm not sure why. None of his later films are on a par with his early, brilliant work--some are positively bad. While I enjoyed "Heyya Fauda" ("Chaos"), his latest feature film, it had none of the insight, naturalism or originality of his earlier work. On the contrary, it bears all too much the mark of his protege Khaled Youssef, whose heavy-handed, sensationalistic and formally mediocre work has reaped a recent--and to me, utterly confounding--success.

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.