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Egyptian films are based on foreign novels. Have you seen them?

Novels and films have a special liking for each of them, and in order for lovers of reading to feel pleasure when watching films, filmmakers, since the beginning of the film industry in Egypt, have taken upon themselves the task of translating world literature texts into films that have left their mark in our cinematic heritage .

As for the relationship between Egyptian cinema and literature, the most beautiful films in the history of cinema have always been inspired by literary texts, whether Arab or foreign. Certainly, most of these films are successful and famous, and you may have seen a large number of them, but without knowing that they are the embodiment of one of the international novels.  Through this report, we will take you on a tour with the most important international literary novels, from which wonderful films were made worth watching.

Hunchback of Notre Dame

The famous classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by French writer Victor Hugo, tells the story of “Quasimodo”, an ugly hunchback young man ostracized by everyone and treated as a monster. Quasimodo falls in love with a beautiful girl named Esmeralda, and tries to sacrifice his life several times for her. The idea was presented in a movie called “The Humpback”, produced in 1946, written by Mahmoud Ismail, directed by Hassan Helmy, and starring Mahmoud Ismail and Samia Gamal.

Crime and Punishment

The novel “Crime and Punishment” by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of the most famous psychological and philosophical novels, and its events revolve around the poor young man “Raskolnikov” who decides to kill an old woman to steal her money, for his desire to get rid of poverty. Once he committed the crime, he was shocked and could not steal many things, leaving most of the old man’s fortune as is. Then he entered into a psychological struggle and confessed to his crime. The idea was presented in a number of works, the first of which was a movie bearing the same name as the novel, which was produced in 1957, written by Muhammad Othman and directed by Ibrahim Emara, starring Shukri Sarhan and Magda. Then came the movie “Sonia and the Majnun” in 1977, written by Mahmoud Diab, directed by Hossam El Din Mostafa, and starring Mahmoud Yassin, Nour El Sherif and Naglaa Fathi. Finally, the movie “The Boob” in 1982, written by Bushra Abdel Malik, directed by Kamal Attia, and starring Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Afaf Shuaib and George Sidhom.

Taming the Shrew

The novel “The Taming of the Shrew” by the English writer William Shakespeare, talks about a wealthy merchant who has three beautiful daughters, the oldest and most beautiful of whom is “Catherine”, known for her ferocity and the authority of her tongue, until he became alienated from every man who proposed to her, which harmed her sisters and contributed to delaying their marriage. Tradition dictates that the older sister gets married first. The father announces the payment of a large sum of money to whomever Catherine accepts as a husband. A wealthy young man known for his love of money came and proposed to her, and as usual, “Catherine” revolted, and he revolted in her face like a madman until he terrified her. He was able to tame her with several different tricks, until she turned into an obedient wife. The idea was presented in several films, including “Ah Men Eve” in 1962, written by Muhammad Abu Seif, directed by Fatin Abdel Wahab, and starring Lubna Abdel Aziz, Rushdi Abaza and Hussein Riad. As well as the movie “Estakoza”, which was produced in 1996, written by Abdel Hai Adeeb, directed by Enas Al Degheidy, and starring Raghda and Ahmed Zaki.

Les Misérables

The novel “Les Miserables” by the French writer Victor Hugo, presents the life of a group of French characters during the nineteenth century, and highlights the character of the poor “Jean Valjean” who stole a loaf of bread and was imprisoned for 18 years. And after his release from prison, he enters into a conflict with the owners of power, influence and the unjust law. The idea was presented in two films of the same name, the first was produced in 1943, written by Badi’ Khairy and Kamal Selim, directed by Kamal Selim, and starring Amina Rizk, Abbas Fares and Siraj Mounir. The second was produced in 1978, written by Rafiq Al-Sabban, directed by Atef Salem, and starring Farid Shawqi, Youssef Wehbe, Adel Adham and Laila Elwi.

The Count of Monte Cristo

The novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” by the French writer Alexandre Dumas, tells the story of the young sailor “Edmond Dantes” who is preparing to marry his lover, and is betrayed by his friends who report him after feeling jealous. The sailor is arrested for conspiring with “Napoleon” and goes to prison. Edmund escapes from prison and finds a treasure trove that a prisoner has guided to. He becomes rich and powerful, and seeks revenge on the people who imprisoned him. Author and director Henry Barakat presented the idea of the novel in two films, “The Prince of Revenge” in 1950, starring Anwar Wagdy, Farid Shawqi and Samia Gamal. And “The Prince of Cunning” in 1964, starring Farid Shawqi, Shwekar, Naima Akef and Tawfiq Al-Daqn. It was also presented in the movie “One of the People”, which was produced in 2006, written by Bilal Fadl, directed by Ahmed Nader Jalal, and starring Karim Abdel Aziz, Menna Shalaby, Ezzat Abu Auf and Mahmoud Al-Jundi.


The novel “Carmen” by the French writer Prosper Mérimée, revolves around an officer named “Don Jose”, “Carmen” in love with a free gypsy woman, and leaves his service for her and turns into an outlaw. When she gets tired of his love and falls in love with someone else, he kills her out of jealousy, buries her in the wilderness, and wanders on his face. The idea was presented in two works, the first is “The Devil is a Woman” in 1972, written and directed by Faisal Nada, and starring Najla Fathi, Madiha Kamel and Mahmoud Yassin. The second work is “Woman Without Chains” and was produced in 1980, written by Youssef El Sebaei, directed by Henry Barakat, and starring Nelly, Wedad Hamdi, Hussein Fahmy and Saeed Eid Al-Fani.

Crime on Goat Island

The play “A Crime on the Island of Goats” by Italian author Ugo Petti, tells the story of three women, mother, daughter and aunt, who live together on a secluded island with only a herd of goats, after the husband is imprisoned. It appears a strange man introduces himself to them as the husband’s friend in prison, and that he came to them on his will before his death. The conflict between the women begins when each of them wants to have a relationship with him, but this conflict ends with them killing the man and throwing him into an abandoned well. The idea was presented in two films, “The Shepherd and the Women” in 1991, written by Muhammad Sharshar and Essam Ali, directed by Ali Badrakhan, and starring Ahmed Zaki, Souad Hosni, Yousra and Mirna Walid. The other movie is “Wild Desire” and was produced in the same year, written by Waheed Hamed, directed by Khairy Bishara, and starring Mahmoud Hamida, Nadia Al-Jundi, Suhair Al-Murshidi and Hanan Turk.

The film stars Hani Salama, Nicole Saba and Khaled El-Sawy. It is based on a true story that took place in 1991, and its hero is “Ahmed Helmy El-Mesiri”, nicknamed the “Butcher of the Engineers”, who broke into an apartment to rob it and killed the maid, the owners of the house, the property guard and a neighbor. He was arrested in 1994 and executed in 2009.

Romeo and Juliet.

The play “Romeo and Juliet” by the English writer William Shakespeare, reviewed the love story between a young man and a girl belonging to two conflicting families in the Italian city of Verona. Their families’ approval of their marriage is impossible, which leads them to fake their own death, which turns into real death. With their death, the conflict between the two families ends after their feelings of guilt. The idea was presented in many films, including “Forbidden Love” in 1942, written by Abbas Allam and directed by Mohamed Karim, starring Mohamed Abdel Wahab and Raja Abdo. And the movie “Martyrs of Love” in 1914, written by Badi’ Khairi, directed by Kamal Selim, and starring Laila Murad and Anwar Wagdy. As well as the movie “El Alamein” in 1965, written and directed by Abdel Alim Khattab, starring Salah Kabil and Madiha Salem. And the movie “Your Love is Fire” in 2004, written by Ahmed Youssef, directed by Ihab Rady, and starring Nelly Karim and Mostafa Qamar.


The novel “Tais” by the French writer Anatole France, set in ancient Egypt, revolves around the idea of a person who seeks to save another person from falling into the temptation of a prostitute, so he falls into sin, and at the same time the other person decides to repent. This came through the story of a beautiful, liberated woman named “Tais” who works as a prostitute in Alexandria, where she lives a leisurely life and men compete to win her approval. After her reputation spreads and reaches the monk “Pavenos”, the priest of the town of Ansina in Upper Egypt, he goes to Alexandria to convince her to withdraw from that atmosphere and get her out of vice, and succeeds in persuading her to leave the life of entertainment, and join her to a monastery for nuns in the Libyan desert. Monk Pavenos faces many crises and wanders in search of peace, until he discovers his love for Thays. The idea was presented in the 1958 movie “Kahraman”, written by Farid Shawqi, directed by Mr. Badir, and starring Hoda Sultan, Yahya Shaheen and Jamal Sami. It was re-presented in 1969 in the movie “My Father Over the Tree”, written by Ihsan Abdel Quddous, directed by Hussein Kamal, and starring Abdel Halim Hafez, Nadia Lutfi, Mervat Amin and Imad Hamdi.

Dr Faust

The play “Dr Faust” by the German writer Johann Goethe, describes Satan’s temptation to a person who needs a service or help, and he concludes a contract with him to carry out that service, in exchange for seizing his soul after his death, but at a moment a person revolts against Satan and decides to get rid of him. The idea was presented in three films, “The Ambassador of Hell” in 1945, written, directed and starring Youssef Wehbe, and co-starring Laila Fawzy, Ferdous Muhammad and Mahmoud Al-Meligy. And the movie “A Date with the Devil” in 1955, written by Jalil Al-Bandari, directed by Kamel Al-Telmisani, and starring Zaki Rostom, Mahmoud El-Meligy, Kariman and Wedad Hamdi. Last but not least, the movie “The Woman Who Conquered Satan” in 1973, written by Tawfiq Al-Hakim and Yahya Al-Alami, directed by Yahya Al-Alami, and starring Nour Al-Sharif, Shams Al-Baroudi and Adel Adham.

Le Moulin Rouge

The novel “Le Moulin Rouge” by the French writer Alexandre Demas Jr., deals with the story of “Marguerite” a prostitute who falls in love with a young man, “Arman Duval”, but complies with the desire of his father, who intervenes to keep her away from him. Margaret faces the cruelty and falsehood of society alone. On her deathbed, she called the priest to confess her sins, and after he listened to her for hours, “Margaret” died alone as she lived, so that the priest commented on her death that she lived as a prostitute and died as a saint. The idea was presented in several films, including “Laila”, which was produced in 1942, written and directed by Togo Mizrahi, and starring Laila Murad and Hussein Sedky. And the movie “Ahed Al-Hawa” in 1955, written by Ali Al-Zarqani, directed by Ahmed Badrakhan, and starring Farid Al-Atrash and Maryam Fakhr Al-Din. It was re-presented in 1973 in the movie “The Lover of the Spirit”, written by Youssef El Sebaei, directed by Ahmed Dia El Din, and starring Naglaa Fathi and Hussein Fahmy. As well as in the movie “Men without Features” in 1979, written by Muhammad Othman, directed by Mahmoud Zulficar, and starring Nadia Lutfi and Salah Zulficar.


The Brothers Karamazov, a novel by Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, sheds light on the conflict experienced by the Karamazov family, starting with a father who squanders his money on alcohol and women. And the eldest son “Dmitriy” who follows in his father’s footsteps. Then “Ivan”, who lives a turbulent life and was a lot of questions about fate and God and had some atheistic ideas. Then the protagonist Alexei is a monk in a church. Then Pavel, who shares his atheistic ideas with Evan. The novel delves into the depths of the human psyche, and deals with family relationships and raising children. The idea was presented in 1974 through the movie “The Enemy Brothers”, written by Rafiq Al-Sabban, directed by Hossam El-Din Mustafa, and starring Nour El-Sharif, Hussein Fahmy, Ahmed Mazhar, Nadia Lutfi and Mervat Amin.

King Lear.

The play “King Lear” by the English writer William Shakespeare, set in ancient Britain, where the elderly King “Lear” decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, and asks them to express their love for him, while “Reagan” and “Goneril” deceive their parents and exaggerate Praise him, Cordelia refuses to flatter him and tells him that she loves him as a daughter should love her father. The king becomes angry and abandons her, deprives her of her share in the kingdom, and divides it between Reagan and Goneril, who begin to treat their father harshly and abandon him. While Cordelia marries the King of France and saves her father and helps him restore his prestige, the King feels heartbreak and remorse for his mistreatment of her. The idea was presented in the movie “The Damned”, which was produced in 1979, written by Abdel Hai Adeeb, directed by Ahmed Yassin, and starring Farid Shawqi, Mustafa Fahmy, Suhair Ramzy and Sana Jamil. Then it was re-presented in 1981 in the movie “Hakam Al Mahakama”, written by Farid Shawqi and Ahmed Yahya, directed by Ahmed Yahya, and starring Farid Shawqi, Laila Taher, Magda Al-Khatib and Yousra.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is a novel by British writer Emily Bronte, set in the English countryside and tells the story of the homeless child “Heathcliff” who is adopted by Sir “Earnshaw”, and grows to fall in love with his daughter, “Catherine”, a love that destroys them and those around them when Catherine marries “Catherine”. From “Edgar Linton” childhood friend due to his wealth and influence. Heathcliff marries Edgar’s sister Isabella, to get revenge on her and her family. The idea was presented in the movie “Al-Gharib” in 1956, written by Hussein Helmy Al-Muhandis, directed by Kamal Al-Sheikh and Fatin Abdel-Wahhab, and starring Magda, Yahya Shaheen, Mohsen Sarhan, Kamal Al-Shennawi and Zahrat Al-Ala.


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