Henri Barakat was born in 1914 in Shubra, the popular Coptic Christian- dominated area of north Cairo. He loved going to the cinema and theatre as well as reading classical 19th-century novels during his law studies at King Fuad I University in Cairo. He graduated in 1935. Barakat always paid fierce attention to details. In 1935, by pointing out many technical errors, the young graduate made himself unpopular with the crew and star cast in his first job, assisting his older brother as he edited the film Antar Effendi; it was a fiasco both at the box office and with critics. The experience induced him to go to Paris to study cinema.
Here he learnt his trade by attending the shooting of many French films and going to the cinema – sometimes four times a day – in order to write a critical study of what he saw. He returned to Cairo when the Second World War broke out, and soon started on his first film, Ashareed (“The Vagabond”, 1942), based on a story by Chekhov. It was a box-office… read more