January 1, 2019

Movie Review: "The Angel" (Netflix - 2018)

The (mostly) true story of Ashraf Marwan, who was Egyptian President Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasr's son-in-law and special adviser, and confidant to his successor Anwar al-Sadat - while simultaneously the Israeli intelligence service Mossad's most precious asset of the 20th century. More on Marwan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashraf_Marwan.

I think it is very well done, and if you are an Arabic speaker, you will appreciate the Egyptian dialect spoken throughout, even though none of the actors are Egyptian. They include a Palestinian-American, a Tunisian-Dutchman, Palestinian-Israeli, an Iraqi-Israeli Jew, among others.

In 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched an attack on Israel on the holy day of Yom Kippur, setting off what would turn into a weeks-long war. Though most of Israel was caught off guard by the attack, the Mossad had received a tip about what was to come. That tip came from Ashraf Marwan, a well-connected Egyptian national. Through access to Egypt’s top officials, Marwan had access to sensitive information — which he provided to Israel for several years, earning the code name “Angel.”

One minor (and I mean really minor) nit – in one scene set in 1973, an older version of the Egyptian flag appears in the President’s office. The flag design was changed in 1972.

The flag on the left is that of the United Arab Republic (UAR), the union between Syria and Egypt - Syria still uses this flag today. The UAR ended in 1961 with the Syrian coup that ushered in the Ba’ath Party. In 1972, Egypt replaced the two green stars with the Hawk of Quraysh (middle image), and in 1984, replaced the hawk with the Eagle of Salah al-Din (Saladin).

Watch it. It's available on Netflix, in fact, it is a Netflix Original.