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The Yacoubian Building

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Product Details

  • Actors: Nour El Sherif, Ahmed Rateb, Yousra, Ahmed Bedir, Adel Imam
  • Directors: Marwan Hamed
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Arabic
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Strand Releasing
  • DVD Release Date: January 29, 2008
  • Run Time: 165 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,902 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Yacoubian Building" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

An eye-catching construction, the Yacoubian Building in Cairo was long regarded as the last word in comfort and elegance. Nowadays the veneer has cracked and the shine has dulled to reveal the truth underneath the façade. Through interwoven stories of a number of the residents, the film paints a portrait of corruption, fundamentalism, prostitution, homosexuality, and drugs in central Cairo and creates a vibrant but socially critical picture of contemporary Egypt.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
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See all 17 customer reviews
This film however is very different.
The cleanliness of the country,the freedom,the society itself.
Nadia Azumi
Well written, beautifully acted - over all very well done.
Cheryl Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Timothy E. Drake on February 17, 2008
Format: DVD
Two summers ago while I was binge reading international literature I was led to a book titled The Yacoubian Building by Alaa el-Aswany, an Egyptian dentist. Written in Arabic in 2002, with an English translation in 2004, it is an incredible book. It is set in Cairo in the early 1990's. My initial interest was that it was reported to be the first Egyptian best-seller with a gay main character, and even a gay bar. It is so much more.

Last night (2/16/2008) I watched the movie version of the book, now available with English subtitles. They did a remarkable job of faithfully bringing this vast and complicated story to screen.

The character Taha, led to fundamentalist extremism by the corruption and despair of the day, should be of most interest to an American audience, his movie portrayal being neither harsh, nor sympathetic, just a representation of a generation, as a defining statement of fact.

The characters of Zaki and Haj serve to put the story into a historical perspective that is unknown to most in the West, yet with a plotline of political corruption that should be universally recognized by any student of history.

There are several main characters who are women, reflecting the entire spectrum of personal emancipation. Yet, I could not begin to analyze the story from a feminist perspective; there is just too much material there for me to digest.

My one and only criticism of the movie is its portrayal of the gay character, Hatim Rasheed, a newspaper editor. Apparently, to not make the movie even longer than it is, developing the Hatim role is shortchanged to give viewers only the sensational, an error not made in el-Aswany's book.

That said, the book and the movie should be on the reading list for those of us confused and anguished by the Islamic world - it is not an answer, but it partial explanation.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By George W. Lynn on April 25, 2008
Format: DVD
If you have any interest in modern Egyptian or Middle Eastern culture, you really should see this film if you haven't already. The movie is based on the best selling novel of the same name published in Egypt several years earlier. The residents of the Yacoubian building are intended to be a microcosm of modern Egyptian society and covers most of the significant themes and problems in Egyptian life today, with a profound sense of nostalgia for the more cosmopolitan Cairo of pre-Nasser Egypt. Many of these themes are highly controversial, such as homosexuality, and couldn't even be mentioned in most other Middle Eastern countries. One of the main characters falls into the arms of radical Islam out of utter dispair. You'll get a much better understanding of that here than you'll ever get from Syriana. The acting is top notch.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nadia Azumi on September 17, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I purchased this film with apprehension, upon request of many of my friends to see it.I am an Italian born in that era of post Nasser ism,and decided to follow the advise of my friends.
At first I thought it was going to be a boring movie, with some vulgarities.Moving along with the film I began to see issues that have never been seen in the Egypt that I lived.I left Egypt in 1974.Homosexuality,and other issues of this film were taboo in those days.It seems no more,which I think it is better than being in the closet.
The religious fanaticism was something that I never saw as clear as in this movie.I am a Catholic therefore going to the mosque was not something I did.It is very interesting as to how they recruit young people.Very smart,searching for those people who have been let down by society.
The old Pasha days are gone of course.The cleanliness of the country,the freedom,the society itself.And yet with all that is said and done Egyptian people are very kind hearted and friendly.The movie also tells the story of a young sales girl what she has to do to get a couple of pounds extra.That I am not sure it is true, but it could be.People are struggling all across the country until today.If you want to follow more as to what is going on in Egypt read the El Ahram newspaper online.I enjoyed seeing this movie very much as many of us born in Egypt and leaving overseas rekindle the days that were,and will never come again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gogol on March 2, 2010
Format: DVD
If you are ever going to take an interest in Egyptian or even Arabic film you may want to start with this one. Some may argue look at some of the "Classics" But I have found a great many of those are either poor imitations of Western films or so over the top they are just simply hard to sit through for a Western audience. This film however is very different.

Based upon the book of the same name by in my opinion one of the best writers currently out there in the Arab world its the story of the various people who inhabit the Yacoubian Building. In some ways its a microcosm of Egypt itself (I have no doubt thats what the author intended) All the lives of the people are somehow interwoven while at the same time sepparate in their own little way. Apparently this film was quite revolutionary when it came out because it was one of the few times that a homosexual Arab was shown in an Arab movie (That being one who was not a comedy sidekick or something) So to the characters. We have the wealthy "Pasha" Who has inherited land and lives a hedonistic life of drink and picking up women in whatever bar he can. Old enough to know better but has little else to do with his life. His sister, bitter at life and resentful of her brother who at least accecpts who he is and makes the most of if. A newspaper editor who at the same time is a homosexual who has to find partners amongst the undesirables of Egypt who soon falls in love with a night watchman who he moves in with his family to the roof of the building.
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