Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Happy Birthday Monsieur Ibrahim

Today would be the 86th birthday of Omar Sharif - as Google might be telling you. He was born of Syrian-Lebanese parents in Egypt, studied economics, became a world famous actor and was a world class bridge player, too.
You might remember him in Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago and even a Pink Panther movie with Peter Sellers.
I remember him for a small art house French film called Monsieur Ibrahim set in Paris.
It's described as a 'buddy drama' but it's that and so much more. It blurred religious lines and cultures - unique for it's time. An older Arab shop keeper, Monsieur Ibrahim, becomes the surrogate father of a young Jewish boy - an unlikely pair. Here's the plot in a nutshell courtesy of a Sufi website.
It's a graceful and glowing film, based on a novel, set in Paris, France, during the 1960s where a Sufi grocer brings light and love into the life of a lonely Jewish boy. There is a dreamy and fairy-tale like quality to this wonderful film and is one of the few contemporary films to depict the special qualities of Sufism. 

Thirteen-year-old Momo lives with his depressed father. He has no recollection of his mother. Although they are very poor, Momo is determined to have sex with one of the prostitutes in his neighborhood, Paris's red-light district in the Sentier. He breaks his piggy bank to get enough money. Momo gives the girl a token of his affection — his teddy bear. Of course, his real interest is in Myriam, the freckled and red-haired Jewish girl next door who he's too shy to talk to. 
The one person in the world who appreciates his desire and his lust for life is the "Arab," Monsieur Ibrahim, whose small grocery is open from eight to midnight every day including Sunday. He is a Sufi, and not an Arab at all but from the Golden Crescent, an area that includes Turkey. Ibrahim watches Momo and notices that he frequently steals food for the meals he prepares for his father. When Brigitte Bardot is making a film in the neighborhood and comes into the grocery for a bottle of water, Ibrahim overcharges her. He tells Momo that this will make up for all the things that he's stolen. The boy realizes that he has found a true and loyal friend who is very different from everyone else he knows.
Omar Sharif won the French Cesar for his role.
Happy Birthday Monsieur Ibrahim!
Tuesday - Cara

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