Haz Saeed: Egyptian Comedy Grossly Simplifies the Revolution
Ahmed SafwatMay Kassab
Tarek Abdel Moaty
In 1 Cinema
Eid plays Saeed, a street vendor who’s legally married yet lives
separately from his wife because they can’t afford a flat. He regularly gets
beaten up at the police station for the most trivial of reasons and generally
leads a highly downtrodden existence. His luck seems set to change though when
he gets a letter stating that the government will be giving him a flat as part
of their youth outreach projects. However, his dreams are dashed when he discovers
that the head of this project intends on scrapping it and use the land for a
commercial project instead. Soon after, the revolution erupts and the head of
the project flees the country. It’s at this point that the entirely apolitical
and rather dim-witted Saeed is forced into Tahrir Square to look for his revolutionary
sister who is camping out and who has her mother scared to death over her
safety. Saeed gets unwittingly caught up in the action Downtown and starts to
question his priorities in life; food and shelter or freedom and dignity?
The film makes a good point in that for people who struggle to live day-to-day,
political reform is probably not at the top of their priorities, which is perfectly
understandable. Our survival instinct is the strongest one we have after all.
But there is a way of making this point without making the protagonist a
complete simpleton. Saeed can barely comprehend the scope of the revolution, is
unable to grasp its purpose and is continuously shocked at the number of people
in the square. With another actor, these traits may have come across as
symptoms of a man brainwashed by the system but in this case, he just seems
obtuse. The rest of the characters aren’t much better either. As a rule, the
females shriek and screech while the guys yell and it’s far more grating than
it is funny.
One point that really undermines that message though is the disparity obvious
in Saeed’s living situation. Even though he’s having trouble making enough
money for a place of his own, the flat he lives in seems quite middle class if
not for the fact that it houses six people of whom, he’s the only one who has
to sleep in the living room. Not to mention they have an internet connection
and satellite television.
The jokes, which are a mile a minute, are mainly one liners and miss far
more than they hit. There are however a few good ones including a montage of
different political ideologies being explained to a thoroughly bewildered Saeed.
It’s a much needed break in the middle of a bunch of scenes of Saeed stumbling
around in the crowd in Tahrir.
The problem with the current crop of films that attempt to tackle the
revolution is that they’re dated before they even make their way to the cinema
and that they’re by default, overly simplistic. There’s no way that a film can
be made about the revolution without the benefit of hindsight and the thing is,
they generally tackle the revolution as a whole and not just specific parts of
it. It’s too much, too simplistic and too soon and in the case of this film, far