US/Israel, 2018, 115 minutes, Colour.
Marwan Kenzari, Toby Kebbel, Hannah Ware, Sasson Gabai, Waleed Zuaiter, Maisa Abd Elhadi.
Directed by Ariel Vroman.
The angel is something of a must for audiences who are interested in late 20th century politics, especially in Egypt and Israel. It was directed by Ariel Vroman, who directed American crime thrillers, The Iceman and Criminal. This film is a US-Israeli coproduction.
The central character is played by Marwan Kenzari (Dutch actor of Tunisian background). He is the son-in-law of President Nasser of Egypt – and the setting is some decades after the Suez crisis of 1956. Kenzari plays Afrash Marwin, something of a playboy, but becoming involved in smuggling rockets into Italy with his diplomatic protection. He is a gambler, devoted to his wife, but with more than a roving eye.
The film fills in the background of relationships between Israel and Egypt, especially at the time of the Six Day War. Marwan has access to President Nasser and suggests greater diplomacy between Egypt and Israel, the President not being enthusiastic about this diplomacy. When Nasser dies, Anwar Sadat becomes president of Egypt and is more open to Marwan’s suggestions. In the meantime he has made contact with Israeli authorities and they set him up with a contact, Danny (Toby Kebbell), an up-and-down relationship over the years, especially with Mossad keeping an eye on the information and the source.
Eventually, Marwan becomes more involved, giving advice to President Sadat, even able to persuade some doubt to postpone aggression with Israel. The diplomacy is ultimately successful with more peaceful relationships between Egypt and Israel.
Ironically, Marwan receives awards from both Egyptian and Israeli governments. However, he died in mysterious circumstances in 2007.
An opportunity for revision in understanding the political complications of the time – or an opportunity for being introduced to this focus of Middle Eastern history and politics.
1. The title and expectations? An espionage story? The codename for the agent?
2. The film based on actual events? The background of President Nasser in Egypt? The clashes with Israel? The effect of the Six- Day War? Consequent hostilities? The death of Nasser? The accession of Anwar Sadat? His aims for peace, yet his involvement in hostilities with Israel? The war, ultimate success and peace?
3. Ashraf Marwan? Egyptian, his marriage to Nasser’s daughter, his place in the Egyptian government? His marriage, love for his wife, his son? His study in England? His hopes? His giving his opinions at meetings – and Nasser not liking him being so straightforward?
4. The London settings, homes, studies, the Israeli Embassy, the familiar landmarks, the atmosphere of London? The musical score?
5. The Egyptian settings? Political background? Military background?
6. The footage from the Six- Day War and the visual impact? The consequences, the Arab nations, their expectations, Egypt, Syria, Jordan? The defeat, the Israeli taking of
territory? Israeli domination? Planning hostilities? Rebellion in Palestine?
7. Ashraf, the touch of the playboy, enjoying London life, gambling? His wife and her patience?
8. His motivation for contacting the Israelis, loyalty, money? The Israelis not following up immediately?
9. Being summoned from class, the death of Nasser, his return to Egypt? The accession of Sadat? Members of the government and their suspicions of Ashraf? Following him, photographing him, the photographs to his wife? His one-upping them, the search of the office, finding the documents, money and corruption, their arrests and imprisonment, the continued resentment especially by Sharaf, in prison, his connections, their searching Ashraf’s house, the threat of abducting his wife and son? Not finding evidence?
10. He is being contacted by Mossad, the various interrogators and their suspicions? Danny, junior, believing Ashraf, the contact and meetings, the codes for chemicals and potassium? Israelis listening in? Ashraf and his advice, Sadat and his holding back, the attacks not happening, the cost financially and reputation for Israel? Growing mistrust of Ashraf and suspicions by the authorities of Danny? Later contact with Danny?
11. Ashraf and his advice to Sadat? Being sent on a mission to Libya, meeting Colonel Gaddafi, the discussions, manipulating him? The later manipulation with the attempt on the plane at Rome airport, – and the effect of the opening of the film with Ashraf arriving, going through customs, diplomatic cases, the weapons, their being opened, aiming at the plane? Bringing this episode up again, Ashraf interfering with the mechanism, the failure, Italian security killing the Libyans? The fact that he saved Jewish lives and the gratitude of Israel? Beginning to believe him?
12. His wife, her suspicions, his absences with no explanations, her suspecting a mistress? The effect of the masked men in the search for the safe, treatment of her son? Still married but ultimately living apart?
13. The role of Diana in London, in the espionage world, the attraction to Ashraf, his using her as a cover for a visit, that he was meeting a lover rather than involved in espionage?
14. His finally persuading Sadat to go into action, the role of the Egyptians, the role of the Israelis, the death toll, neither winning – leading to peace discussions and the image with Jimmy Carter and Sadat and Begin?
15. The final tribute to Ashraf, your average of, hero for Israel – and his mysterious death in London in 2007?
16. Audience interest in this kind of contemporary and recent history espionage, going behind the headlines?