Adieu Bonaparte. 1985. France/Egypt. Directed by Youssef Chahine. Screenplay by Chahine, Yousry Nasrallah. With Michel Piccoli, Mohsen Mohieddin, Patrice Chéreau. In French, Arabic; English subtitles. 115 min.
Egypt’s greatest director, Youssef Chahine, touched off a political firestorm when this, his first European coproduction, was shown at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. A portrait of the Napoleonic general Cafarelli (Michel Piccoli), who struggled to bring his Enlightenment ideals to the French intervention in the Middle East, the film was partly financed by the culture minister Jack Lang, who was accused of using state funds to finance anti-French propaganda. Seen today the film is an ambivalent, nuanced study of civilizations in conflict, one steeped in ancient tradition and not yet ready for change, the other a newly minted republic fired up with radical humanism. Restored by the Cinémathèque française, Misr International Films, and TF1 Droits Audiovisuels with the support of CNC, Franco-American Cultural Fund (DGA-MPA-SACEM-WGAW), Archives audiovisuelles de Monaco, and Association Youssef Chahine; courtesy TF1 and Misr International Films. DCP.