In spite of admiration for Will Smith as a funny comedian and action hero, his latest project, The Last Pharaoh, is a great disappointment to millions of Americans, Arabs and Muslims, for many reasons. The film tells the story of Taharqa the Nubian king. The story is about Ethiopians battling Assyrians by screenwriter Chris Hauty, directed by Carl Franklin and starred and produced by Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment.
As usual in Hollywood movies being a mishmash of mumbo jumbo of untrue fictitious characters of archetypal villains with sinister heavy accents drabbed in ancient Egyptian costumes The Last Pharaoh is no exception.
For starters, Assyrians fighting Ethiopians on the land of Egypt excludes the role Egyptians played in their own history.
Assyrians are neither Egyptians, nor Ethiopians. Assyrians are from Babylonia and Ethiopians came from what used to be called Abyssinia. I guess the screenwriters just liked these names; they sound kind of exotic!
Cleopatra, the Greek queen, was reduced by Hollywood to a mere vixen who seduced Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.
Unfortunately, Hollywood has abused, twisted and tarnished the history of many people starting with even holy figures like Moses and Jesus who were not blue-eyed Nordic people as depicted in movies. They were Semites. In addition to the other fallacies that come along with many other smaller details.
The Problem? The problem is that many people take a Hollywood movie for granted and hardly read a history book. Most of what we know about other people is derived from the silver screen. There is nothing wrong with making a big action movie against the backdrop of a historical landscape as in Egypt. But impressionable youngsters and adults can mistake it for a real history lesson.
The result? The result is that our perception of other groups of people has been confused, biased and totally wrong. Take for example how Hollywood vilified many people: Arabs, Asians, Blacks, Latinos, Americans from the South, and Italians. These groups have been the old favorites of movie developers to concoct crude stereotypes wrapped with the usual spices of nude scenes, few jokes, a brawl, or perhaps a big animated battle.
In doing so, we have actually stereotyped ourselves; Americans! Millions of people have seen Americans in Westerns as cowboys who shoot first and ask questions later, loud, overbearing, etc.
In many Hollywood movies, alas, the filmmakers come up with fictitious languages nobody understands or ever spoken; people are portrayed in black and white; either too good to be true, or absolute evil. You can also expect the locals or the natives to be acting like mindless herds of extras who need another Indiana Jones, Rambo, or a newborn- Rudyard Kipling, to bring them to civilization with his whip.
Will Smith could have done much better. There is a plenty of historical material and true stories from Egypt, ancient and modern. Egyptian history is so full of drama, action and adventure more than what screenwriters can imagine. Take for example the true story of the Last Pharaoh of Egypt, Hosny Mubarak. If you want to know the true story of the Last Pharaoh of Egypt, you’d better pay attention to what’s going on in Egypt these days and in the near future. That will make a lot of headlines.
Many people consider that the Pharaonic era in Egyptian history had ended thousands of years ago. But to the Egyptians, the memories of their pharaohs are still fresh. The word pharaoh is still used in Egyptian daily language, Arabic, as a detonation of tyranny, arrogance, haughtiness and unjust power.
The 83 years old Mubarak of Egypt has been in power since 1981 with no vice-president. Concerns about Mubarak’s health draws much greater attention to the question of who will next rule the nation of Egypt?
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If that scenario was not frightening enough, there are few others that are even scarier. A scenario where an ambitious general would stage another coup, turning Egypt into a God -knows-what regime and allying himself with Muslim radical groups? Would Egypt witness another Khomeini-style revolution with the usual anti- American? Taking into consideration the recent rise of Hamas and Ikhwan, this is not a farfetched scenario.
Considering the alarming rising poverty figures in Egypt, could Egypt be overrun by an angry and hungry mob, French-style revolution?
Whatever the scenario, spillover from what could occur in Egypt in the near future would impact the sum of Arab, Muslim and Mid Eastern nations. Western capitals are keeping tabs on the situation fearing a domino effect in Egypt.
This is why whatever unfolds on the Egyptian landscape; will be a story of monumental proportions. Will Smith, Obama, and McCain: Watch out for the Last Pharaoh of Egypt.
About the Author
Born, raised and educated in Egypt, lecturer and writer Aladdin Elaasar is one of the foremost authorities on Egypt and the Arab World. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State & Terrorism”; where he predicted the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote: Silent Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America. And “The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Volatile Mid East”.
Elaasar has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks and media and cultural consultant since 1992. Email him at:[email protected]
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The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Mid East
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