Rags and tatters.

Author:Andrews, Beverly
Position:Mosaic/FILM - Movie review

THE EGYPTIAN DIRECTOR, AHMAD ABDALLA'S 2010 feature Microphone, uncannily predicted Egypt's political revolution and the downfall of the country's long standing authoritative leader Hosni Mubarak. His new film, Rags and Tatters, takes a look at the fallout of that very same revolution. Set during the heady days of the occupation of Tahrir Square the film charts the long journey home of a prisoner who, because of the social chaos that engulfs the country, manages to escape and embarks upon the arduous journey home. A journey in which he realises the world he has emerged into is startlingly different from the one he once knew.

During his almost wordless journey, we see through his eyes a country caught in the grip of historic political change. Where Microphone showed a younger generation desperate for change, at a time when even the small freedom to simply put on a music concert was denied, Rags and Tatters shows how this very same generation's frustration has now reached breaking point. They have taken up occupancy in the capital's famous Tahrir Square. But director Abdalla cleverly avoids filming the now familiar events at the Square and instead takes his camera to the back streets of Cairo and then on to the sleepy towns of the Egyptian countryside. A countryside where news only gradually filters through about the government's imminent collapse. The nameless central character, played by Asser Yassin, simply watches the country he once knew disappear before his eyes. Social order at first fragments and then breaks down altogether. We see snipers taking random shots at lorries in which hitchhikers are hiding in order to escape the chaos of events in the capital.

A close friend the convict escaped from prison with, is seriously wounded and the lead character is forced to leave him behind. But before he departs he takes a photo of the injured man on his phone, as a record of the event, in the same way so many others were recording other violent events throughout the country. Once the photo is taken, the man is forced to keep moving to avoid being captured by the police. As his journey continues, we continue to observe happenings through his eyes. A police force out of control, the growing disrespect for religious institutions, as churches and even mosques are attacked and looted as the factional fighting that engulfs the country intensifies. We see villages empty of their inhabitants, as families stream towards Cairo to support the protesters...

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