It's all about the revolution: A film review of "The Square"
There’s nothing quite like the human spirit. Our desire to live free and unshackled will drive us to do dangerous and life-threatening things that don’t even guarantee a positive outcome. But we try anyway, again and again until we make our voices heard. This is exactly what the people of Egypt have been doing since 2011, and “The Square” is a record of that. Not only is it a great work of art, but it depicts a moment in time when people took control of their destiny to change the course of history.
The film mainly follows three revolutionaries, Ahmed Hassan, a young man who was forced to sell lemons from the age of five to put himself through school, Magdy Ashour, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who’s torn between standing by his religious beliefs and the better good of Egypt, and Khalid Abdalla, a successful expatriate (he was in “The Kite Runner”) who decided to go back to his homeland to aid in the revolution. They’re by all means very different people, but you see how quickly their differences are put aside when it comes to pushing for true reform that will better Egypt.
The film documents the revolution that started in Tahrir Square leading up to the end of Hosni Mubarak’s reign, all the way up until the ousting of Mohammed Morsi in August of 2013. What’s great about the film is that it does what the international media miserably failed to do: share Egypt’s story with the world. As soon as Mubarak had lost power, coverage of Egypt’s revolution dried up as well. Even as the military began turning on its own people, and the Muslim Brotherhood used the revolution to gain power, most of the world had stopped caring. Luckily, there are people like Ahmed, Magdy, and Khalid who kept fighting, and who tried to keep a record of it for the world.
I don’t know how director Jehane Noujaim and her crew managed to get this much footage, and I can only imagine what a huge security risk that was, so for that alone, the entire production team deserves massive props. Some of the footage we get to see is extremely difficult to sit through. There are scenes where protesters are getting trampled by military tanks en masse, and it’s shocking and highly disturbing, but it’s also necessary.
But even with all the gloomy stuff we get to see, there’s also a great sense of the hope at the end of it all. Ahmed, who I’m sure audiences will love, openly admits that this is what their life has become now: a series of protests and revolutions. But seeing people like him gives me hope for Egypt. As long as the good people keep fighting the good fight, there’s always a chance for peace and happiness.
As someone who grew up in the Middle East, there’s certainly a lot for me here to connect with. But this isn’t just the story of Egypt or the Middle East; this is a story of courage and the willingness to put your life on the line for something real. True heroes are people like you or me who step up to make a difference when all the odds are stacked against them. “The Square” is a testament to the human spirit and what it’s capable of. Let’s start a revolution.
- What do Egyptians really think about their country's first Academy Award nomination film "The Square"?
- It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Khaled Youssef filming in the air!
- Egypt's "The Square" circled from Sundance 2013 to next year's Oscars
- Review of “Zanj Revolution”: a mature film inspired by the Arab spring