'The Square' is an intimate observational documentary that tells the real story of the ongoing struggle of the Egyptian Revolution through the eyes of six very different protesters. Starting in the tents of Tahrir in the days leading up to the fall of Mubarak, we follow our characters on a life-changing journey through the euphoria of victory into the uncertainties and dangers of the current 'transitional period' under military rule, where everything they fought for is now under threat or in balance.

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Egyptian-American director Jehane Noujaim has created a documentary about the Egyptian revolution through the prism of where everything began (and continues to evolve in the same place): Tahrir Square. The documentary begins in 2011 when dictator Hosni Mubarak is deposed. Noujaim primarily focuses on two young Egyptians on opposing sides: the young revolutionaries Ahmed (who believes in liberal reforms) and Magdy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2011, Noujaim met both of them in Tahrir Square during the protest against Mubarak and then continued to follow them, up through the recent events of 2013. Once the old regime is deposed, Noujaim manages to shoot exclusive footage of the second protest against the military junta before elections were held and the Muslim Brotherhood assumed power. The footage is harrowing, with the Army firing on unarmed protesters as well as running over people with tanks. The outspoken Ahmed takes center stage during these protests and comes off as both a principled reformer and unrepentant hot head. At one point, it appears that Ahmed joins some protesters who throw rocks at the soldiers. Ahmed in turn is struck in the head (apparently by a rock) and must seek medical treatment. The interplay between Ahmed and Magdy proves to be one of the most interesting sequences in the documentary. Magdy doesn't come off as much of a radical at all but appears to be in the Brotherhood for economic support (in one scene, his mother chastises him for not having a regular job to support his five children, but instead relies on the Brotherhood for his sustenance and those of his family). With the focus on what's going on in 'The Square', Noujaim devotes scant time to explaining what the Brotherhood is really about (one of the film's shortcomings). Nonetheless she is there for the third protest (even larger than the protest against Mubarak), which results in the ousting of the 'New Dictator', Morsi, along with Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Morsi's thing is 'legitimacy', arguing that his victory entitled him to make constitutional changes. The victory of course was very narrow and with no ability for the legislature to impeach him, liberal Egyptians once again took to the streets, and threw Morsi out. The Army went from being the villain as supporters of Mubarak, to heroes for deposing him, villains again for not instituting liberal reforms fast enough and finally being respected for getting rid of the Muslim Brotherhood. During the current time, the Army is being criticized for once again being part of the system and not working fast enough to change it. Director Noujaim does interview a few Army people, including a clueless General, who laughably denied that any of his soldiers used force against civilians. 'The Square' underscores what always seems to be happening in the Mideast—an overreaction by the Army in response to civil upheaval (the situation in Syria is far worse, resulting in thousands upon thousands of deaths). I would have liked to see a few foot soldiers interviewed also, just to get their point of view (in addition to a general, Noujaim obtained access to an officer, who defends the military point of view). Noujaim also conscripts Khalid Abdalla, the noted actor of Kite Runner fame, to offer up an international perspective on the Egyptian situation. Abdalla, with his beautiful, cultured voice, makes perhaps the most eloquent plea, for reform in Egypt today. I was happy to note at film's end, that the hot head revolutionary, Ahmed, seems to have calmed down a bit and shows no bitterness toward Magdy, who we learn ends up quitting the Brotherhood. Director Noujaim accomplished what she set out to do which was to capture the fervor of those who continue to engage in protests whenever the spectre of dictatorship rears its ugly head. The Square's limitation is that it's not designed to analyze the mindsets of the anti-revolutionary forces in much detail at all. What makes the 'Army' and the 'Brotherhood' tick, perhaps could be the subject of Ms. Noujaim's next documentary.

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