Bab el hadid (The Iron Gate) (1958)

The Iron Gate DVD

Also known as: Cairo Station
Starring: Youssef Chahine, Hind Rostom, Farid Shawqi
Directed by: Youssef Chahine

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains minor spoilers for this movie!

Synopsis: Qinawi (Youssef Chahine) is a lame young man who is hired by a newspaper seller at the busy Cairo train station.  The young man becomes obsessed with Hannuma (Hind Rostom), one of the female cold drink sellers who are peddling their cool bottled colas under the nose of the station manager and the ever-frustrated official push-cart salesman.  Hannuma has plans to marry luggage handler Abu Siri, a man who is leading an attempt to unionize the station workers for better conditions and fairer practices.  Eventually Qinawi’s obsession with Hannuma turns violent in this fascinating film from a the brilliant Egyptian filmmaker and actor, Youssef Chahine.

Featured Feline: A lovely little tuxedo cat (with the largest pupils likely ever captured on film!) plays what turns out to be a pivotal role in the film, first inadvertently alerting Hannuma to the presence of Qinawi who is spying on her when she believes she is alone.  Later in the film after Qinawi believe’s he has killed Hannuma the cat returns and he believes the cat to be her spirit returning to him.

The Iron Gate

Kitty Carnage Warning! When the cat fights to get away from Qinawi he interprets it as Hannuma rejecting him again and flies into a rage, attacking the cat viciously.  It is a disturbing scene and later when we see the cat it is clear that it has been injured.  We assume and hope the filmmakers had some way of making the cat look injured without actually hurting it.

Final Mewsings: Cats should steer clear of obsessed newspaper peddlers at train stations.


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