Yacoubian Building, Movie Review
The characters in the Yacoubian Building personify political, economic, social, and religious tensions in contemporary Egypt.
The Yacoubian Building(2006) is a movie that is an allegory of the social classes of Egypt. It also provides a metaphor of the host of social problems that modern Egyptians experience through the depiction of the social dilemmas and economic constraints that the cross-sectional Egyptian populace faces as represented by the various tenants of the building. It provides a clear picture of the society from the privileged few, depicted as the legitimate tenants—politician, store owner and gay scholar to the deprived and the financially disadvantaged majority which is represented through the families squatting on the roof of the building. The forthright representation depicts the contemporary Egyptian setting with sufficient historical and cultural background that explains in vivid details each character’s story works dynamically and symbolizes the intertwining threads of the social tapestry that is uniquely Egypt.
The tensions with regards to the economic, religion, and politics stemmed from the social classes coupled with cultural difference. Like in every other city, the Middle East is no exception when it comes to societal problems. The conflicting facets of religion and politics have a direct impact on the economic aspect of the country. Unlike in the West, wherein there is a dividing line between the secular and religion, The Middle East, including Cairo, religion plays an important role to guide and influence the day-to-day activities of Muslims. However, the daily demands of life do not necessarily translate to the effort that is expected from them by the Qur’an. The issue of homosexuality for example is considered taboo. Ancient practices such as clitorectomy for example seemed to belong to the ancient times and not the current age. Insisting old practices on a modern setting seemed to result to more conflicts than necessary.
William Cleveland and Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East, 4th Edition (Boulder: Westview Press, 2009).
Aswany, Al Alaa. The Yacoubian Building. (New York: The American University In Cairo Press, 2004).