Diary of an Egyptian Soldier

Micha Shagrir
  • Rate

Micha Shagrir was one of the first Israelis to have visited Egypt in the years following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Embarking on a secret, private, and most unique mission in the late seventies, Shagrir crossed the border ahead of the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The purpose of this mission was to personally return a fallen Egyptian soldier’s journal who had been killed in the Yom Kippur War. The 1981 film, Diary of an Egyptian Soldier, chronicles Shagrir’s journey across Egypt in search of the late soldier’s parents. This extraordinary visit presented Shagrir with a rare of opportunity to depict the war and its harsh consequences from the other side of the border via then-ultrarare footage of Alexandria, Cairo, the Suez Canal, and various regions of rural Egypt.
Quoted excerpts from the journal provide a window into the Egyptian soldier’s day-to-day musings and lyrical waxing, whose one and only wish was to return home safely. The rare and moving encounter with his parents offers a one-off glimpse of a spellbinding, honest dialogue between Israelis and Egyptians in the aftermath of this bloodied war.
Under Shagrir’s production and directing vision, the time-plot unity is done away with. This, he achieves through voice-over narration from either side of the border which combines descriptions of Shagrir’s Egyptian excursion with excerpts from the diary. In doing so, the director distances himself from the situation whilst, all the while, maintaining his uncompromising commitment to the truth and the individual’s own human voice, and without ever becoming exploitative, or indulging in sentimentality. Like many of Shagrir’s other films, here too – the individual’s story; that is, the Egyptian’s soldier’s is woven into the greater, historical narrative arc of the Middle East – i.e. Israel’s physical borders that separate it from its neighbours, vs. the boundaries that define it as a moral, just society.

Subscribe to our mailing list and stay up to date
הירשמו לרשימת התפוצה שלנו והישארו מעודכנים

This will close in 0 seconds