If you are not Muslim, chances are you never heard about Al Azhar, which is a university teaching the Islam Sciences since 970 in Cairo, Egypt. They are the ones electing the Great Imam, and have been fully independent from the government since the very beginning. Governments have tried to get into it for centuries, to no avail. The movie starts with the Great Imam dying, and the government's attempt to choose who will be the next one, preferably on the government's side. You follow Adam, a young man who just arrived from his small village to learn about Islam. He gets involved in a situation that gets worse with every decision he makes, but he somehow still continues to learn about Islam between his investigations, prayers, and lack of sleep. He seems like a very pious guy, not understanding what he is getting himself into, and looks lost most of the time. The movie is a bit slow however, and could have used a bit more rhythm or maybe just to be shorter.
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Adam, the son of a fisherman, is offered the privilege to study at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the center of power of Sunni Islam. Adam becomes a pawn in the conflict between Egypt's religious and political elites.
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Outlawed in Egypt
This movie has shaken Egypt to its very core, it has been deemed so provocative that it is BANNED. The director is Egyptian, the move is set in Cairo (yet filmed funnily enough in Istanbul because of the ban). It has yeilded award in the Cannes film festival, and it is simply put SUPERB.
The camera is well used, the atmosphere build up is immensely satisfying. And it ultimately proves the old saying "Man will be free when the last King has been strangled with the last priests entrials"- This is a CULT movie in the making. Unfortunately you will never see this film in Egypt.
Superb, uplifting movie
Boy from Heaven is not an easy watch but it is unusual, inspiring and fascinating in its portrayal of a world unknown to most non-Muslims. It creates an atmosphere both sacred and threatening and the main character, in his tortured vulnerability and innate purity, is a compelling watch. It was by far my favourite movie at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
Every scene is rivetting as the plot becomes more and more dangerous for our young hero: life here is cheap and political influence all important. The film is a visual delight and the cinematography excellent. Above all, it is full of pauses and silence, reflective silence, giving the viewer time to catch their breath in the midst of the brutal reality of life at the spiritual university. This is truly a great movie!