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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Angel is a 2018 spy thriller based on a true story of an Egyptian government official who found a way to fend off war between Egypt and Israel in the 1970s. It's in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. There is some violence: characters shot and killed, a prisoner whipped by jailers, news footage of war battles. In a nightclub, a woman tells the lead character how she hosts swingers' parties, films sexual acts, and watches her lover have sex. "F--k" is used a few times, and there's cigarette smoking and some drinking. It's a fascinating story of Middle East intrigue during a perilous time, and should inspire discussion among families about the history of the region, and how one person can bring about positive change.
What's the story?
In THE ANGEL, amid unrelenting tensions between Egypt and Israel that often lead to war and terrorist acts, Ashraf Marwan (Marwan Kenzari) is the son-in-law of Egyptian President Nasser. His opinions on these tensions don't endear him to Nasser, but things change after Nasser's death. The next president, Anwar Sadat, makes Marwan a high-ranking diplomat. But months prior, frustrated with both Nasser's disdain of him and the constant threat of war between Egypt and Israel, Marwan attempts to reach The Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. When they finally reach Marwan, he begins to feed The Mossad information from the meetings he attends with Sadat and his administration as they plan to go to war to retake the land Israel claimed after the Seven Days War. He tells The Mossad agents of impending war, but Sadat keeps changing his mind at the last minute, causing The Mossad to distrust Marwan. Marwan thus undertakes an elaborate balancing act of working with the Egyptian government, terrorists hostile to Israel, and The Mossad, all while trying to keep this elaborate clandestine life a secret from his wife and family. With the Egyptian military clamoring to actually go on the offensive, Marwan must find a way to prove to The Mossad that this time, they mean it -- and they intend to start the war on Yom Kippur.
Is it any good?
While espionage movies are often "high-stakes tales of intrigue," this is as high-stakes and intriguing as the real world can get. Set amid the backdrop of seemingly insurmountable tensions and impending war between Egypt and Israel, The Angel tells the true story of Ashraf Marwan, a high-ranking Egyptian diplomat who tried to give the Israelis advance warning of Egypt and Syria's impending attacks on Israel. As a result, Israel's advance knowledge of Egypt's offensive on Yom Kippur in 1973 led to the Yom Kippur War ending after a bloody three-week stalemate that neither side wanted to repeat, eventually leading to the peace talks and treaties that emerged from the Camp David Accords.
The movie does an excellent job of showing the double/triple/quadruple life Marwan led. It's the kind of story that could easily fly off the rails, but the story effectively conveys the unrelenting challenges Marwan must have faced not only as someone shuttling between the Egyptian government, terrorists, and Israeli intelligence, but also his private life. It also manages to be a very good starting point for the context of why the Middle East is such a hotbed of unceasing tension between nations. It remains a mysterious story -- Marwan died under mysterious circumstances in 2007, only three weeks after an Israeli court confirmed him as an agent who gave Israel information -- but it's also the kind of action-packed story that has translated well into a movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies based on true stories. How accurate do you think these movies are?
This movie is also based on a book. What would be the challenges in turning a nonfiction book into a movie?
What were some of the ways in which The Angel tried to make the scenes look and feel like the 1970s in the Middle East?
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