“I have ambition”: Muhammad Ramadan's proletarian masculinities in postrevolution Egyptian cinema
This article provides a close reading of two popular Egyptian action films, al-Almani (The German, 2012), the first blockbuster since the 25 January 2011 revolution, and Qalb al-Asad (Lion heart, 2013), both starring Muhammad Ramadan as a socially produced proletarian “thug” figure. Made for Egyptian audiences, the films privilege entertainment over aesthetics or politics. However, they express distinct messages about violence, morality, and revolution that are shaped by their moments of postrevolutionary release. They present the police state in salutary yet ambivalent terms. They offer a rupture with prerevolutionary cinema by staging the failure of proletarian masculinities and femininities that rely on middle-class respectability in relation to sex, marriage, and work. Even as each film expresses traces of revolutionary upheaval and even nostalgia, cynicism rather than hopefulness dominates, especially in al-Almani, which conveys to the middle and upper classes the specter of an ever-present threat of masculine frustration. The form and content of Qalb al-Asad, by comparison, offer the option of reconciling opposing elements-an Egyptian story line with a less repressive conclusion if one chooses a path between revolutionary resistance and accepting defeat.
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