The Beginning and the End

Institute History

  • 1994 Sundance Film Festival


The Beginning and the End, Arturo Ripstein's adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz's masterpiece, is itself an extraordinary accomplishment Having transposed the setting from Egypt to contemporary Mexico City, Rlpstein and partner/screenwriter Paz Alicia Gracia Diego have fashioned an epic work with emotional power and universal significance.

The story traces the collapse of a lower-middle-class family following the sudden death of the father, who has made no provision for them. Struggling to survive on what is suddenly an almost nonexistent income, the mother, Dona Ignacia, focuses all the family's hopes and dreams on the younger sons. Indeed, she withdraws her daughter (the ugly duckling of the family, literally) from school to slave away, sewing garments, and thrusts her oldest son out Into the world to earn his way In whatever manner he can. The family must move from their comfortable apartment into the basement, where they concentrate on getting Gabriel into law school so he can restore the family fortune. But sacrifices take their toll and as each member of the family seeks some form of self-gratification' and success, tragedy looms ever nearer. Mahfouz's use of social and class realities to define the nature of personal, day-to-day existence is reminiscent of the works of Dickens or Hardy, and Ripstein's adaptation is exceptionally true to the original. The film's mythic structure and compelling humanism are Intensely powerful.

The Beginning and the End never seeks to simplify or reduce the world's complexity, but instead probes and reveals the interrelated aspects of personal, political, social and moral choices. Beautifully photographed, often with exceptionally intricate, long takes, this remarkable portrait will resonate with audiences long after the final credits roll. The film won the Grand Prize at San Sebastian this past September.

Monday Jan 24 1:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre

Tuesday Jan 25 9:30 1m
Park City Library Center

Thursday Jan 27 8:30 pm
Tower Theatre, Salt lake City


— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]