CAPSULE: In Egypt January 28, 2011, there was to be a moderate afternoon demonstration against the tyrannical president Hosni Mubarak. Three hours and then home for dinner was the plan. Things did not go quite as planned. Right under its leaders the demonstration transformed from a short protest to a popular revolution. UPRISING producer/director Fredrik Stanton's electrifying account of the Arab Spring revolt of the people of Egypt against the dictatorial president Hosni Mubarak and his corrupt regime. He tells the story with interviews and narration of the people involved. The story is uplifting but overshadowed by more recent events in Egypt. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10
Fredrik Stanton, who produced and directed UPRISING, is a political scientist, author of the book GREAT NEGOTIATIONS: AGREEMENTS THAT CHANGED THE MODERN WORLD and a fellow of the Foreign Policy Association. This is his first time at using the medium of cinema. He tells the story of the January 2011 revolution against Hosni Mubarak and the Mubarak regime. The story is told straightforwardly with witnesses--many of whom are from leaders and coordinators of the events; some are victims of the violence-- giving interviews and narrating over footage taken of the remarkable incident. Stanton uses this straightforward approach gambling that the excitement of the events themselves will grab his audience. He tells a story that is compelling and exhilarating.
Hosni Mubarak was the vice-president of Egypt under Anwar Sadat and was sitting just next to Sadat when Sadat was assassinated in 1981. Immediately Mubarak declared martial law in Egypt. Generally, that is supposed to be a temporary measure to restore order in a crisis. But three decades later in 2011 Egypt still suffered under martial law and was still a military police state maintaining power against the will of the people, suppressing the people with torture and other human rights abuses readily employed. During those thirty years the United States supported the Egyptian government as a practical expedient, necessary at the moment but also alienating the Egyptian people.
The people survived as well as they could for three decades under Mubarak. But in that time the Internet came to Egypt and the government found they could not suppress it. With social media people could communicate their dissatisfaction to thousands with the Egyptian government helpless to stop it. In 2011 the Internet started communicating something else, the news that in Tunis popular protest had led to the toppling of that government. Egyptians started looking around and asking themselves, "Why not here?" Protests took to the street, particularly after the brutal murder of well-known Internet personality Khalid Said.
On the Internet there was announced what was to be a short protest, possibly three hours, but the leaders were themselves amazed at the many thousands who turned out to show their dissatisfaction. As word spread the thousands became tens and then hundreds of thousands. Christians and Muslims put aside their differences in camaraderie to form a common movement. The movement came from all classes and both genders. What started as an afternoon demonstration turned into full-fledged revolution. This is the story of how the modest protest overcame violent resistance to become a revolution that in a few short days toppled the government of Egypt. Egypt now has a new president, Mohamed Morsi.
The effects of an afternoon anti-Mubarak demonstration have changed Egyptian history for all time. The bitter irony--too recent to be discussed in the film--was that after the events of this film Morsi declared himself to be above the law and having unlimited powers "to protect the nation." The good news is that protesting worked a second time and Morsi relinquished most of that declared power, but the story continues.
The January Revolution is a story of our time. It could not have happened ten years earlier. The protests were organized and publicized using the social media. They were inspired by the similar events previously in Tunisia. That news would have been choked off from the Egyptian people in a time not much earlier. The importance of the Internet in this revolution cannot be overstated. This story is an important lesson for political leaders around the world and shows the way technology is changing politics. I rate UPRISING a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2192002/
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/uprising_2012/
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2012 Mark R. Leeper