“Cleopatra” casting of the Israeli actress attracts backlash in Egypt

“Cleopatra” casting of the Israeli actress attracts backlash in Egypt
“Cleopatra” casting of the Israeli actress attracts backlash in Egypt
October 15, 2020

Gal Gadot, the Israeli star of “Wonder Woman”, lit a Storm of controversy in Egypt on October 11th when she announced she is back

with “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins in a new historical film that tells the story of Cleopatra, the legendary Queen of Egypt.

The two women will produce the biographical drama – Gadot’s idea – for Paramount. Jenkins directed Gadot’s “Wonder Woman” 2017 film, which is based on the American comic book superhero of the same name and its sequel “Wonder Woman 1984” and is expected to be shown in the coming months. Laeta Kalogritis, who wrote the screenplay for Leonardo Di Caprio’s “Shutter Island” wrote the new film.

“Cleopatra is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time,” Gadot wrote on Instagram. “Can’t be more excited and grateful.” She also said that her Cleopatra story was told “from a woman’s point of view”.

“And we are particularly pleased to announce this on the website

. We hope that women and girls around the world who want to tell stories will never give up on their dreams and let their voices be heard by and for other women, ”Gadot tweeted.

But many Egyptians don’t share their enthusiasm. Sayyed Ali, host of the Al Haddath El Youm show on the private Mehwar Channel, hit Israel and called it “a state of thieves”. Mahmoud Kassem, a film critic interviewed on Ali’s show, complained that while a lot of money was spent on Egyptian television and film productions, only a handful of it gave viewers a glimpse into the country’s rich history. “For Egyptian filmmakers and producers, our story begins with the Islamic conquest. They ignored the Pharaonic and Coptic eras as if they never existed, ”he said

Mostafa El Fekki, an Egyptian politician and director of the Alexandria Library, called Gadot’s casting “brainwashing and deception”.

He told Al Monitor, “The Israelis are trying to deceive the public by claiming Cleopatra as their own. First, they claimed that falafel and hummus were Israelis; you are not. Then came the claim that the Israelis built the pyramids; they didn’t. And now it’s Cleopatra, what’s next? ”

Gadot’s announcement also sparked great controversy on Egyptian social media. Some Twitter users wanted one

like Sawsan Badr had been selected for the role. Others argued that the old queen actually was although she was born in Egypt.

“Let’s understand that Cleopatra was Greek heritage,” remarked a Twitter user who bears the name


“It traced its origins back to the Ptolemaic Kingdom, which lasted almost 300 years. Ptolemy I was a general in Alexander the Great’s army. … After Alexander died, he declared himself Pharaoh and

with the Greeks as the ruling elite, “he wrote.

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was an ancient Hellenistic state based in Egypt, the last of which was Queen Cleopatra. Cleopatra was famous in both drama and history as a lover of Julius Caesar and later as the wife of Mark Antony. She remained Macedonian, but was the only Ptolemaic ruler who learned Egyptian and tried to get to know the Egyptian people and their customs. She became queen when her father died and ruled in turn with her two brothers and her son. It is widely believed that she committed suicide after the Roman armies of Octavian (later Emperor Augustus) defeated her and Antony’s combined forces. The Ptolemaic Kingdom, the longest and last dynasty in ancient Egyptian history, eventually fell to the Romans after their death.

Some users like @theafronerd complained that “white people keep pouring [other] https://twitter.com/theafronerd/status/1315333061303828485 Playing Cleopatra and Ancient Egyptians. “Some believe Cleopatra was a woman of color.

The Egyptian Twitter users were obviously confused about the casting of an Israeli actress for the legendary role and argued that it was not


“You could have saved money on the makeup,” read a sarcastic headline on the Vetogate news site. The article quoted social media users as saying that Egyptian actress Sawsan Badr should have been selected for the role because of her strong resemblance to the old queen.

“Do [Gadot] do you deserve to play this role instead of an Egyptian actress? Our

before our eyes ”, another complained.

Unsurprisingly, politics also played a role in the social media discussions about the film.

“The former recruit to the colonialist Zionist occupation army will play Cleopatra. That is worth mentioning [Gadot] was on the side of the Zionists during the bombing of Gaza, “one read angrily

Gadot, a former Miss Israel, is no stranger to controversy. She caused a stir in August 2014 when she posted a message of support for the Israel Defense Forces on when Israel airstrikes Gaza in retaliation for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas weeks earlier. The military operation launched by Israel on July 8, 2014 was the deadliest in decades, resulting in thousands of deaths, most of them civilians from the Gaza Strip.

“I send love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who risk their lives to protect my country from the horrific acts of Hamas, who hide like cowards behind women and children. We will overcome! ”“ ”She had written next to a picture of herself praying with her daughter.

The Egyptian archaeologist Monica Hanna also expressed her disapproval, saying: “Hollywood should be more sensitive in dealing with other cultures and civilizations.”

“Politics aside, the Israeli actress casting is disrespectful to Egyptians, who were not consulted about the script or the making of the film. To say that our heritage is a global heritage that all can share is a colonialist phrase that is often used as appropriate inheritance from other people, ”she told Al-Monitor.

Despite the criticism, Gadot appears to be eagerly taking on the mantle of the title actress in the historical biography, a role Elizabeth Taylor made famous in Joseph Mankiewic’s 1963 classic “Cleopatra”. Taylor’s film won four Academy Awards among the nine it was nominated for: Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design.

The Egyptian film critic Tareq el-Shinnawi dismissed the online criticism as “jealousy”.

“While we as Egyptians are proud of history, we don’t own our historical figures. Anyone anywhere has the right to tell the Cleopatra story from their own perspective, as long as they don’t falsify historical facts, ”he told Al-Monitor. “Instead of complaining about the Israeli actress casting, Egyptian filmmakers should produce their own version of the film and tell the world the stories of our great ancestors,” he said.

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