Destiny | Chicago Reader

Destiny

Youssef Chahine's lusty celebration of love and tolerance (1997) opens with an auto-da-fe and exile in France and ends with a fatwa and exile in Spain, the implication being that free thought doesn't fare too well in an increasingly fanatic world. In between, however, there's a lot of joyous, finger-snapping singing and dancing. It's a sweeping historical saga set at the intersection of religious cultures—Islam, the dominant religion of 12th-century Andalusia, and the humanism of philosopher Averroes. Historical epics aren't generally known for their immediacy, but Chahine is nothing if not a master of the moment. Few of his films have ever been released in America; given the fact that his ardent belief in multicultural diversity makes him a target of rabid fundamentalists at home, it's ironic that he should be deemed too Egyptian to be appreciated here. In French and Arabic with subtitles. 135 min.

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