Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dignity - The Yacoubian Building

What on earth is happening in Egypt?  And why?  And what does it have to do with you?  

I saw the movie the "Yacoubian Building" at a small movie theater.  Hubby and I decided to go, knowing nothing about it.  Afterwards, Mr. Paradis wrote it off, scoffing at it as a soap opera and remarking that I have weird taste in movies.  The Yacoubian Building actually made quite an impression on me.   It is the story of the stories of a selection of people who make a home in one apartment building in Cairo.  They are not just neighbors.  They are actually a snap-shot and a cross-section of Egyptian society.

The following interview with the Director and one of the actresses in the film addresses some of the major themes of the film.  Themes which, it seems clear to me now, have been central to the lives of Egyptians for quite a long time now.  But they are UNIVERSAL themes, not unique or exclusive to Egyptian life.

I find it very odd that I saw the film barely a week after I completed jury duty last summer. And I chose to see it because I mistook it to be a light-hearted antidote to the three weeks that I had just experienced.  It's odd that the greatest discomfort of those three weeks of civic activity was the feeling that I and others in the Court Room had been completely stripped of something.  Odd that the (Tunisian) "revolution" that has now been swept off the pages of the newspapers, but which precipitated this one in Egypt, had been carried out in the name of............

Odd that everyone of the English-speaking Egyptians that I have heard in the media in the past week have so embodied this word.

It is something that we seem to be at great risk of relinquishing in our Modern Age.  Something which a very young and terribly innocent-seeming fellow juror invoked at the end of our courtroom service and which (to my surprise at the time) articulated my feelings.  "What about?  Our DIGNITY?" 

It is certainly true that we humans need to eat.  And hunger surely seems something that has motivated the unrest in both Tunisia and Egypt.  And certainly unfairness and corruption played a huge role in the sense of injustice that is felt by so many Middle Easterners it seems.  But what is it especially that you lose when you are forced repeatedly to swallow phony spectacle that is paraded before you, and the lies that you are forced to acquiesce to as door after door in life is slammed shut against you?  That you cling to desperately when nothing else is left?  When you have lost or sold too much of anything you have ever valued?


I think the Director of this film Marwan Hamed, explains this particular hunger terribly well.  Both in the interview below, and in his movie.

If you'd like to see all of The Yacoubian Building, which I highly recommend, for it's thoughtfulness and it's humanity, for it's UNIVERSALITY, you can rent it from Netflix, here.

And then you can tell me what you think.  Would you start a revolution?  To preserve your dignity?


  1. Oh I read this book a few years ago in almost one seating... Fascinating! This book was so raw, so real... I am in tears with the recent events.

  2. i definitely have to check this out!

  3. This looks interesting...I'd like to see the whole film.

  4. i'll look out for this movie in the library, sounds like a film they'll get. else i'll recommend it. your post is very intriguing, a little mind blowing, as is the reality.

  5. I need to see this movie - thank you for bringing it to my (our) attention.

    Yes, Dignity...