Al-massir (Egypt: 1997)


Youssef Chahine

Cast list

Nour El-Sherif as Averroes
Laila Eloui as Manuella
Mahmoud Hemida as Al Mansour, The Caliph
Safia El Emari as Averroes’ Wife
Mohamed Mounir as The Bard
Khaled El Nabawy as Nasser, The Crown Prince
Seif El Dine as The Caliph’s Brother
Abdalla Mahmoud as Borhan
Ahmed Fouad Selim as Cheikh Riad
Magdi Idris as Emir of the Sect
Ahmed Moukhat as Bard
Sherifa Maher as Manuella’s Mother
Rayek Azzab as El Razi
Hassan El Adl as Gaafar
Hani Salama as Abdalla
Faris Rahoma as Youssef
Ingi Abaza as Sarah


Produced by: Humbert Balsan and Gabriel Khoury
Written by: Youssef Chahine and Khaled Youssef
Edited by: Rashida Abdel Salam
Cinematography: Mohsen Nasr


This French-Egyptian drama centers around the life of an Andalusian philosopher from the twelfth century, named Averroes, who garnered attention as a grand judge due to his controversial liberal court decisions. Eventually, members of a fanatical sect of Islam force the caliph who had appointed Averroes to send him into exile. However, his ideas live on due to his students, and he becomes one of the most important commentators on Aristotle. The controversial film seeks to condemn intolerance and religious fanaticism. Although selected as the Egyptian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 70th Academy Awards, the film was ultimately not accepted as a nominee.


Dupont, Joan. Reason and Revelation: The ‘Destiny’ of Youssef Chahine. The New York Times. (newspaper)

Ebert, Roger. Destiny. Movie Reviews and Ratings by Film Critic Roger Ebert. (blog)

Mahnke, Hans-Christian. “Destiny” – A film to be remembered today. AfricAvenir International. (online magazine)

Academic Articles: 

Gugler, Josef. Film in the Middle East and North Africa: Creative Dissidence. University of Texas Press (2011), pp. 254-259.

Jousse, T. Entretien avec Youssef Chahine. Cahiers de Cinéma, No. 517 (October 1997), pp. 35-39.

Khouri, Malek. Anxieties of fundamentalism and the dynamics of modernist resistance: Youssef Chahine’s Al Maseer (The Destiny). CineAction, Iss. 69 (Spring 2006), pp. 12.

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