Youssef Chahine (1926–2008), Egypt's most celebrated director, made forty-two films over six decades. His work, which runs the gamut from social realism to melodrama, musical comedy to grand historical spectacle, resisted easy compartmentalization. In his final film, Hiyya Fawda (Chaos, 2007), he returned to a favorite theme, Egypt's national predicament, dispensing with his recent propensity to couch his criticism in allegorical/historical garb.

This paper reads Chahine's final film as a coda to his career, highlighting several key themes—political corruption and state brutality, sexual longing and deviancy—that reference, sometimes directly, his earlier classic work. Chahine's depiction of Egypt marks him as a prescient, courageous observer of Egypt on the brink of an “Arab Spring,” perhaps even an oracle, certainly a romantic. The ending of his final film may be typically sentimental, but it is certainly less unbelievable than when the filming ended, even if it remains a cautionary tale.

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