Banned in Beirut: Lebanon nixes Death on the Nile due to Gal Gadot’s role

Death on the Nile was banned in Kuwait earlier this week.

 Gal Gadot in Death on the Nile. (photo credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)
Gal Gadot in Death on the Nile.
(photo credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

While the star-studded Death on the Nile, which opened around the world this week, is the rare big-budget movie to be set in the Middle East, many in this region will not see it, since Lebanon has just joined Kuwait in banning the film due to the fact that Israeli actress Gal Gadot has a starring role.

Gadot served in the Israeli army, like all Israelis who do not receive a medical or religious exemption do, and the fact that she is an IDF veteran is enough to make her persona non grata in some of the Arab countries that have not signed peace treaties with Israel. This is not the first time that Lebanon has banned the silver-screen star. When her 2017 movie, Wonder Woman, was released worldwide, Lebanon also blocked its release. This drew criticism from Lebanese movie fans and bloggers who were more tolerant than the military censor. Blogger Elie Fares noted five years ago that, “The fact of the matter is that if you have a problem with the content of a movie, the actor or actress leading it or anything pertaining to it… Simply don’t go watch it. Call for a boycott, but you sure as hell have no right in making sure no one else gets to watch it too.” Others noted that many Lebanese action-movie fans would simply find it on streaming sites and watch it at home. Wonder Woman was banned in Qatar, while its sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 was also banned in Lebanon. 

The Lebanese establishment has punished Lebanese citizens for contact with Israelis in the past. Lebanese-French director Ziad Doueiri, whose movie, The Insult, was nominated for an Oscar, was arrested and briefly detained at the airport in Beirut in 2017 because in 2013, he made a movie, The Attack, in Israel. The Attack is about a Palestinian suicide bomber and starred several Israeli actors. 

The Daily Mail, which reported about Death on the Nile‘s ban in Kuwait earlier this week said that newspapers there said that social-media protests had pushed the government into the boycott. 

In addition to her army service, Gadot has drawn ire in the Arab world for social-media posts during the war between Israel and Gaza in 2021 that were supportive of Israel. 

 Gal Gadot in Death on the Nile. (credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox) Gal Gadot in Death on the Nile. (credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

The release of Death on the Nile, which completed filming just before the pandemic started, has been delayed several times, due in part to the coronavirus and to sexual assault allegations against Armie Hammer, one of its stars.

The movie, which is based on a 1937 Agatha Christie novel, was directed by and stars Kenneth Branagh, who plays Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot. It tells the story of a wealthy newlywed couple, played by Gadot and Hammer, who take a luxury cruise on the Nile, during which one of the passengers is murdered. 

While the star-studded Death on the Nile, which opened around the world this week, is the rare big-budget movie to be set in the Middle East, many in this region will not see it, since Lebanon has just joined Kuwait in banning the film due to the fact that Israeli actress Gal Gadot has a starring role.

Gadot served in the Israeli army, like all Israelis who do not receive a medical or religious exemption do, and the fact that she is an IDF veteran is enough to make her persona non grata in some of the Arab countries that have not signed peace treaties with Israel. This is not the first time that Lebanon has banned the silver-screen star. When her 2017 movie, Wonder Woman, was released worldwide, Lebanon also blocked its release. This drew criticism from Lebanese movie fans and bloggers who were more tolerant than the military censor. Blogger Elie Fares noted five years ago that, “The fact of the matter is that if you have a problem with the content of a movie, the actor or actress leading it or anything pertaining to it… Simply don’t go watch it. Call for a boycott, but you sure as hell have no right in making sure no one else gets to watch it too.” Others noted that many Lebanese action-movie fans would simply find it on streaming sites and watch it at home. Wonder Woman was banned in Qatar, while its sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 was also banned in Lebanon. 

The Lebanese establishment has punished Lebanese citizens for contact with Israelis in the past. Lebanese-French director Ziad Doueiri, whose movie, The Insult, was nominated for an Oscar, was arrested and briefly detained at the airport in Beirut in 2017 because in 2013, he made a movie, The Attack, in Israel. The Attack is about a Palestinian suicide bomber and starred several Israeli actors. 

The Daily Mail, which reported about Death on the Nile‘s ban in Kuwait earlier this week said that newspapers there said that social-media protests had pushed the government into the boycott. 

In addition to her army service, Gadot has drawn ire in the Arab world for social-media posts during the war between Israel and Gaza in 2021 that were supportive of Israel. 

The release of Death on the Nile, which completed filming just before the pandemic started, has been delayed several times, due in part to the coronavirus and to sexual assault allegations against Armie Hammer, one of its stars. 

The movie, which is based on a 1937 Agatha Christie novel, was directed by and stars Kenneth Branagh, who plays Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot. It tells the story of a wealthy newlywed couple, played by Gadot and Hammer, who take a luxury cruise on the Nile, during which one of the passengers is murdered.