National Defence 1940

Frenkel Brothers / Egypt 1940 / 10m / Arabic with English subtitles / 15

National Defence


Accompanying the rapid growth of Egyptian cinema, bewitched by American animation (especially the short animated films Felix the Catand Disney’s Mickey Mouse, which screened between film programmes at the cinemas), the Frenkel brothers – Herschel, Salomon and David – decided to make their own animated films. The brothers were born into a Jewish Belarusian family from Jaffa, Palestine, having emigrated to Egypt during World War I.

Their Egyptian hero, Mish-Mish, became so popular with cinema-going audiences that the Frenkel brothers were able to start a successful advertising agency from the proceeds of the screenings. 

Their extremely popular war propaganda film National Defence (1939) featured the playful Mish-Mish as a patriotic soldier pitted against a Nazi military occupation of Egypt in late 1939. The Frenkels shot the film using the traditional 2D technique, producing thousands of drawings. Cashing in on the immense contemporary successes of talkies and musicals, the soundtrack of the film includes popular Egyptian music of the time, played by local bands. 


Africa in Motion Film Festival | Woodland Creatures, Edinburgh | 2 Nov 2017

Afrika Eye Film Festival | Aardman Studios | 26 Oct 2017

Afrika Eye Film Festival | Big Screen Bristol | Oct 2017

Clips from classic African animations