Morocco newspaper | At the premiere of “Majnoun Farah” by Leila Bouzid: Love, Identity and Body in Cinematic Poetics

No one has achieved the ingenuity of the Arabs to enumerate more than one name for love and add up its degrees in dozens of names, from love to love to infatuation…

No one has surpassed the eloquence of Arabic poets in the composition of spinning poems, whether virginal or pornographic. In her new film “Majnoun Farah”, the Tunisian director Leila Bouzid dusted off forgotten literary treasures and reconsidered the superiority of Arabs to convey the anguish of passion, describe the excitement of the body and sing of the pleasures of life.
Before its competition for the Golden Tanit for the Carthago Film Days 2021, the Rio Hall in the capital hosted the journalists’ screening of the movie “Majnoun Farah” in the presence of the director, Leila Bouzid, and the heroine, Zubeida Belhadj Omar. . The film is currently showing in Tunisian theatres.

Revisiting the Arabic Poetry Blog
The director Leila Bouzid borrowed the title and the madness from “Majnoun Farah” to call her film “Majnoun Farah”. From the title to the content, the poetry of Qais Ibn Mallawh leaked out, and the delicacy of his feeling flowed in the description of his mad love for his beloved Layla, who was impossible to connect with her.
At the Sorbonne University, the meeting was between “Ahmed” (Sami Awtalbali) and “Farah” (Zoubaida Belhadj Omar), he was a Frenchman of Algerian origin, but she had just come from Tunisia to study literature in France. From “A look, a smile, and peace” a love story arose between the two who differed in their views on the concept of love and the desire of the body. At a time when “Farah” flies like a butterfly in the air of love without restrictions or limits, Ahmed is shy to reveal his feelings and represses his body’s desire to connect with his lover victoriously with the virginal ghazal -poets studying their poems at university. He sees that love is hardship and that true love is some mystical infatuation with the beloved without falling into the pollution of the body. Will Ahmed last until the end?
The code of ancient Arabic poetry, with all its richness, colors and beauty… was the focal point of Leila Bouzid’s camera lens, shaking the fabric of this unique heritage and its precious pearls of compositions and poems. The director of Majnoun Farah searched long in the titles and searched a lot in the references to select from them the sweetest poetry and the finest poems that sang love, lust, desire and wine with the utmost poetic and wonderful.

Identity crisis… Youthful confusion
In their voluntary or forced migration to Europe, Arab immigrants often settle there only physically, while their souls remain suspended between the two countries and their identities are broken… In neighborhoods on the edge and cramped houses, most immigrants live in a fracture between assimilation into the culture of the host country and adherence to the culture of the mother country. The hero “Ahmed” and his family were nothing but a model of a family of Arab origin living in Paris with a pure Arab mentality hidden by a free-tongued French. The identity crisis worsens for the Arab youth of French nationality, and at their first test in life they are confused between fulfilling their conservative upbringing and keeping up with the lifestyle in the liberated country. Ahmed was an Arab youth, but he could not read and write in Arabic, and he was also ignorant of the legacy of Arab civilization, including Arabic literature, his field of specialization and study at the Sorbonne University.
Because knowledge is light and knowledge removes veils from the mind, the university was a lantern that lit the way for the hero of Majnoun Farah. Thanks to studying the subject of comparative literature and getting to know the richness of the Arabic poetic code in the description of love and desire, “Ahmed” reconciled with himself, his body and his beloved “Farah”.

The beauty of a picture… the beauty of music
“If we want to imagine beauty in its most perfect form, it is enough for us to listen to beautiful music.” In the movie “Majnoun Farah”, director Leila Bouzid unleashed the music to reverberate loudly in the name of love, joy and life. The music was one of the strengths that increased the film’s chances of gaining the admiration of the audience, as well as the solos and notes that the companions of the characters and the interpreters of their longings, the hum of their feelings and the turmoil of their thoughts…

The movie “Majnoun Farah” not only used a recorded soundtrack, but also celebrated live clips from different musical styles, such as the scene of a saxophonist on the banks of the Seine, excerpts from the concert of the Tunisian singer Ghalia Ben Ali, and links from the rhythm of the darbuka… Music is a mirror to the depths of the hero “Ahmed”, so it penetrated to his deepest feelings and revealed the truth of his feelings and revealed what words did not say about the bitter struggle between love and fear, desire and oppression…

Just as music was an element of wealth and beauty, nothing goes without justification and without a message on the screen of the movie “Majnoun Farah”… Director Leila Bouzid was keen to choose her scenes and the filming space with great intelligence and depth. If the closed door is a reflection of the closed and exhausted character of the hero, and if the open window indicates liberation and openness… And between this and that, the movie scenes followed in a swing between dark and light, dark and light with a high aesthetic in the picture without exaggeration or cost.

In the movie “Majnoun Farah” there is a novelty in his presentation and a boldness in his speech that qualifies it to compete strongly for the Golden Tanit of the Carthago Film Festival. Will “Majnoun Farah” lead director Leila Bouzid to the podium again?

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