Egypt’s cinematic legend, Omar Sharif, passed away on Friday of a heart attack after a three-year struggle with Alzheimer’s, and as one of the actors that brought Egyptian cinema to Hollywood’s attention, his death came as a shock to the world.
We wanted to pay tribute to Omar Sharif by mentioning some of his greatest works and roles – both Egyptian and his stints opposite some of Hollywood’s greatest during its golden era – that effected not only the cinematic industry, but also our lives.
1- Sira3 Fi Al-Wadi (1954)
This romance/drama by acclaimed director, Youssef Chahine, starred Sharif opposite Faten Hamama. It was his first film role and was the one that brought him stardom. It was presented at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival under the name The Blazing Sky and in 1996, during the Egyptian Cinema centennial, this film was selected as one of the best 150 Egyptian film productions ever.
2- Ayamana El-Helwa (1955)
Sharif starred in this romance/musical opposite Faten Hamama, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Ahmed Ramzy. The story revolves around love and fraternity and this movie was also selected as one of the best 150 Egyptian film productions during the aforementioned centennial.
3- Ard El Salam (1957)
Sharif, once again opposite Faten Hamama, starred in this war epic famous for being one of the earliest movies in Egyptian cinema to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict.
4- La Anam (1957)
Sharif and his most frequent partner starred in this melodrama based on a novel by Ihsan Abdel Quddous. While the movie was considered to be controversial due to its story, it was an instant success in the Arab region due it’s ensemble cast as well as the fact that it was one Egypt’s very first coloured movies.
5- Ash3at 7ob (1960)
Every Egyptian in the world has been, and probably still is, in love with Ash3at 7ob, what’s considered to be the ultimate romantic comedy in Egyptian cinema. The movie starred Sharif opposite the Egyptian Cinderella, Soaad Hosni, and Youssef Wahbi in addition to cameos by actress Hend Rostom and football player Adel Hakel.
5- Fi Baytona Ragol (1961)
This socio/political drama saw Sharif as a young rebel during the British occupation in Egypt. The movie starred Zobayda Tharwat, Hussein Ryad, and Roushdy Abaza.
6- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
The epic that put Sharif on Hollywood’s map in the 1960s starred the actor opposite Pete O’Toole and Alec Guinness in this biopic based on the life of T.E. Lawrence during World War I. Not only this, but Sharif won Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actor and Most Promising Newcomer, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 35th Academy Awards.
Omar Sharif starred along side Julie Christie in this epic drama based on Boris Pasternak’s novel. The story is set in Russia between the years prior to World War I and the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922. When the movie premiered, critics were generally disappointed, claiming that it trivialised history, while acknowledging the intensity of the romantic drama and its treatment of human themes. Over time, however, the film’s reputation improved greatly and it is now regarded as one of the best epics ever made, ranked by the American Film Institute as the 39th greatest American film of all time. His role in the film won Omar Sharif a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama.
8- Funny Girl (1968)
Omar Sharif starred in this romantic musical alongside Broadway/Hollywood star, Barbara Streisand. The story is based on Isobel Lennart’s novel, which is loosely based on the life and career of Broadway and film star Fanny Brice, and her stormy relationship with entrepreneur and gambler, Nicky Arnstein. The movie holds the #16 rank on the American Film Institute’s list of Greatest Movie Musicals.
9- Monsieur Ibrahim (2003)
Sharif starred in this movie directed by Francois Dypeyron, based on the novel and play by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. The story talks about a relationship between an old man and a young boy, in the context of culture, diversity and family. Sharif won a Cesar award in 2004 for his role in the movie.
10- Hassan and Marcus (2008)
As the first collaboration between Omar Sharif and Adel Emam, arguably the most prominent actors in Egypt and the Middle East, the movie was a much-anticipated summer blockbuster that met with controversy upon its release. The movie dealt with issues of religious extremism, intolerance and sectarian violence, and emphasised the possibility of friendship and love between members of different religions.