Friday Films: ‘Al-Haram,’ Based on a Novel by Yusuf Idris

Every Friday, ArabLit suggests a new classic film-book combination — for you to watch and read — until we run out of steam about 20 weeks in:

This week, it’s Al-Haram (The Sinners in English translation by Kristin Peterson-Ishaq), based on a 1959 novel by Yusuf Idris.

The film was directed by the great Henry Barakat — who also directed the The Nightingale’s Prayer and The Open Door — and it stars Faten Hamama. It centers around the marginalized Aziza, who is raped, carries the baby to term, and then kills the baby after its birth.

The film was nominated for the Prix International at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, and the cultural critic Baheyya writes of Al-Haram (1965) and The Nightingale’s Prayer, that “I’m always struck by the evocation of loss and tragedy in the rich black garbs donned by the protagonists in both films, the skillful manipulation of shadow and perspective to echo the characters’ inner states, and the haunting portrayal of the vistas of the Egyptian countryside.”

Previous Friday films:

I’m Free, based on a novel by Ihsan Abdel Quddous

A Beginning and an End, based on the novel by Naguib Mahfouz

For Bread Alone, based on the novel by Mohamed Choukri

Gate of the Sun, based on the novel by Elias Khoury

The Dupesbased on Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun

Diary of a Country Prosecutor, based on a novel by Tawfiq al-Hakim

Adrift on the Nile, based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz

A Nightingale’s Prayerbased on a novel by Taha Hussein.

 Kit Katbased on the novel The Heron by Ibrahim Aslan, available in translation by Elliott Colla.

The Egyptian Citizen, based on Yusuf al-Qa’id’s award-winning novel War in the Land of Egypt

The Lamp of Umm Hashem, inspired by a novella by Yahia Haqqi