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Forums  >  Religion  >  "he" in Yes,
Author Post
at 10:47, 9 Jan 2006
Posts: 2
"he" in Yes,
"he" was from Lebanon, and a muslim, however, he danced to armenian music, his friend in Beirut greeted him in armenian, and the party scene in Beirut was completly armenian.
I was a bit confused since armenians are 100% christian.
The only scenes in Beirut always had a mosque chant in the background, something not so common for Beirut, Lebanon being the only non muslim arab country.

am I taking this too far? but please help me understand, I am puzzled. thanks for such a lovely film.
at 18:31, 9 Jan 2006
Posts: 10
I wonder how you came to the conclusion that HE is Muslim? That is not stated anywhere in the film. In the written screenplay he is described as a middle eastern man. In the film he says that he is from Beirut. There is no mention of being a Muslim. But that assumption is probably very common; a guy from the middle east, who looks different, must be an Arab and a Muslim!
However, whether he is Muslim or not is not an essential part of the story. He is from the middle east.
Lebanon cannot be called a non-Muslim country. The population is about 60% Muslim. It is an Arab country, and might be unique in that Islam is not the overwhelmingly predominant religion, and that there is a great deal of religious freedom and diversity. The definition of what makes it an "Arab" country might be debatable. But the official language is Arabic. Lebanon is a member of the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. There are more mosques than churches in Beirut.
But the assumption that he is Muslim is interesting. That never occurred to me.
Brian Young
at 10:12, 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 2
maybe yes, look again
I think that it is stated by 'He' in the movie that he is muslim. I remember him talking about islam beliefs and fundamentals. Pretty sure that in the garage seen he references Islam. Take another look.

Chache (sp?) I found what you posted about the religious demographics of Lebanonn and Beruit as interesting. The film and that post encourage me to learn more.

at 12:23, 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 10
Muslim or not?
He mentions Islamic law during one of the kitchen debates. That does not make him a muslim. I have searched through the written screenplay and cannot find a direct indication that he is muslim. He also says somehwere that he would rather have any faith than no faith, again, I think, during a kitchen debate. Do you have the screenplay? I have read it through several times, and have not found such a reference.
Brian Young
at 15:33, 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 2
"He" in Yes,
I think that it is still confusing. if the movie is about confronting some of the greatest conflicts of our generation - religious, political and sexual as stated, then "he" is totally out of place.... :"he" is armenian, and playing an armenian, which means he is automatically christian, which means he can not be part of a religious or the east west conflict...that is my point. What religious conflict can an american woman have with an armenian...or are we expected to guess that this armenian in this film is a muslim? never heard of that yet. He did defend muslim in the debate in the kitchen and called it fair, that is normal for a well read person to know that muslim religion is fair. But everytime they showed Beirut, they had a mosque chant in the back, and they found the strangest places to tape, as if trying to show a poor and undeveloped muslim country, fine, well then what does the armenian party scene supposed to say to the viewer?
Armenians where the 1st nation in the world to adopt christianity, and have suffered for about 1700 years for not converting to muslim, so choosing an armenian to play the part of 'He" and represent the religious and political conflict between East and West is a bit confusing at least. Armenia is in Eastern Europe.
Do you guys agree?
at 19:25, 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 10
Confusion? Maybe
Yes, I do understand what you say. It seems apparent that many people have assumed that HE is muslim. You must have some insight or experience in this, because you recognized the language. I only knew that it wasn't Arabic, and HE just did not come across as musilm, not to me. Yes, he does defend Islamic law, and asks HER if she has read the Koran. But I ask that question as well. When papa bush started the Gulf war, I bought a Koran, and read it. When baby bush invaded Iraq I bought Mein Kampf. I learned more about this conflict from that book, and more about this present US administration as well.
This is hard to explain, but the purpose of the present conflict is to secure control of the oilfields, and to project US military power into the region. Period! It is just fortunate for the oil imperialists that the debate can now, conveniently, be framed as a struggle between conflicting ideologies or religions. That takes the spotlight off the real root cause of this conflict- the quest for oil and domination. Unfortunately, this will lead to a wider conflict, one between East and West.
You ask "what religious conflict can there be between an American woman and an Armenian man" I really did not see that there was a religious conflict in that sense. I think it was a broader struggle, perhaps to cross a wide gulf where religion was just one small part. I really think that it was more of an East-West conflict, involving a long history of domination and exploitation. Not everyone in the middle east is muslim, and they can still feel the pain of European and American intervention and exploitation.
I think that there must be many non-muslim people in the middle east who feel, as painfully as their muslim brethren, the American heel grinding into their back. So, although I really understand your point, I just didn't feel that HE being muslim or not was essential. But only Sally Potter can fully answer your question about why an Armenian played this role. I also agree with Amanda that your post, and others, has really given me an interest to learn more, especially about the history of the Armenians. That is a chapter of history that we all need to learn more about.
If you can get a copy, the written screenplay is really great, and I think you would enjoy reading it.
Brian Young
sally potter
at 12:47, 23 Feb 2006
Posts: 193
Your conversations...
I have been contemplating these conversations for some days since returning to this site after a period of writing, far from internet connections, indeed far from almost everything except snow.
Everything you say is interesting and there is much accuracy in the contradictory readings of a contradictory piece of work. I will try to address some of your points, but first I would like to say how rewarding it is for me to see viewers of the film talking to each other. I am very happy that YES has provoked such lively and intelligent debate.
You are right that the identity of He is, for some people, confusing. His persona in the finished film is the result of a long process of writing, of discussion, of research and workshops. In the end, the decision was to leave his identity deliberately ambiguous, for various reasons. First, so he could not be pigeonholed as being one thing, one identity, and therefore could not be burdened with predictable assumptions about his views or behaviour.. Second, so that we, the viewers could project our doubts, feelings, and so on, onto him, and have them confounded. Third, to underline the reality that the East/West conflict is not just the concern of those directly targeted but of everyone, from any religious or ethnic background.
The decision to have the party in Beirut be Armenian (with Armenian music, dancing and so on) was because the friend is Armenian. My researches there showed how such friendships were possible between people from different faiths and backgrounds, so He could still be Muslim.
As for choosing an Armenian actor, I simply chose the best actor for the complex and demanding role; one who could imbue the part with knowledge based on his own direct observation and experience, one who would commit himself to the project, body and soul, one who wanted to work , really work; to collaborate, to develop the part together. I never thought of him as 'an Armenian' but as a brilliant actor and a wonderful human being. Indeed, the impulse behind the film as a whole was to look beyond identities, religious difference and so on and see the beating heart of the individual, the being reaching out for connection with other beings.
Thank you for such thoughtful and necessary questions in your messages.
at 21:51, 25 Feb 2006
Posts: 1
reply to your conversations
i found it really interesting to read your conversations about the political and religious views brought forth in this film.
to add to some of the issues discussed, as an arab, a muslim and a lebanese, i thought that "he" was a muslim not only cuz he mentions islamic law in the kitchen scene or cuz he asks her whether "she" has read the koran or not, but because in the scene where he is cooking in his home for her, he mentions cutting the ham so delicately, even though he clearly states that does not eat it. since pork is forbidden in the muslim religion, i took it that he was in fact muslim.

also, i believe that a large part of the conflict that arises between "he" and "she" and also between "he" and the crew in the kitchen is due to the inner battle that "he" goes through as a foreigner in a distant land. one, so far away from home is at all times subconsciously struggling to find a home for themselves in another one's home. and it is very understandable the way he handles his situation in london after being fired from the restaurant, not only with her but also with the fact of living in london. feeling unable to find peace of mind there, he goes back to the only home that he knows will accept him for who (culture, nationality) he is as opposed to the individual he is. i think representing him as a either a muslim, christian, armenian or lebanese is insignificant as long as he is a foreigner seeking a "home" - which "he" finds at the end with "she", both as individuals in a foreign land.

Brian, i agree with you entirely regarding the conlflict that not only exists between east and west but that is also growing on what seems on a daily basis. it feels as though the separation is expanding ever so quickly (especially with the recent barbaric responses by the various islamic communities to the rude and extremely impolite and disrespectful danish cartoons). Both sides really need to work harder to increase dialogue to somehow reduce this dangerous separation.

i have just finished watching the movie and would like to thank you sally for your great work. i'm very excited to see your other films. i'm also very thankful for raising awareness and consequently debate of various social, political and religious issues. keep asking questions everyone!! the media is not the only source of information. personal experience and exposure is the greatest source of consciousness.


at 01:07, 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 0
feeling lost or at home?...
It's been truly interesting to read this... and Omar, I think that your words are really true.

I think that the scene with the feast in Beirut was the one that gave me the strongest feelings... Was HE feeling at home?... or did he feel lost his in his own home? In spite of all joy around him... Living far away from 'home' has made me feel really lost sometimes, even among family and friends. It makes me extremely sad, and that was the feeling that came over me watching that scene. But then I remind myself of the rich life I have, with friends from all over after moving every 2-3 years for the last 15 years. All those interesting encounters with so many wonderful people from different realities, countries, religions etc, has made me the person I am today, and they will always stay with me in my heart. I would not have wanted anything different in my life.

Thank you Sally. I have finally seen the film.... It had to be a DVD, on my computer in bed in Seattle, after all this waiting... My head was spinning all night,... I'm so grateful for all what you brought to life...and again, I thank you for keeping up with this site for so long... it has really been a great agora,...and a place in space where I felt at home... all those moments when I felt lost and lonely. I feel that you have brought the world closer together with you film, your ideas and this site.

Thank you again. - Eli.
sally potter
at 15:41, 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 193
what a beautiful message, Eli.
I am so glad that this film and its spaces have provided some sanctuary for you in your travels. i am sure you will look back on your uprootedness, eventually, as a time when you have been connected with how it is to be alive for so many people now. Perhaps in exile we become part of the larger body of the homeless ones, the displaced masses. The temporary 'comfort' of security tempts us into forgetting them. something in your tone suggests that you will not forget.

at 05:43, 22 Apr 2006
Posts: 0
...i watched this film in my temporary home in Tripoli, Libya. I have found joy, happiness, friendship and humour during my time here...I have had the opportunity to form my own opinion of life in the arab world. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE will more of this spirit be broadcast. If only we could see more of the diversity and richness of the culture in the 'west', it would help balance the monochrome image portrayed by the media. YES confirmed to me how little we chose to know and how much there is to learn....fabulous film!!
jaci hull
at 22:48, 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 1
I am seeing this film for the first time tonight (as I write). My feelings are much like Eli's, the person in the hotel, though I sit in my own living room in Boulder. This! feels like home to me too. This is so masterful and so complex and therefore so so so satisfying for this girl, who finds herself starving here in the southwest. the high desert.
You are a genius! thank you. The actors, the music, perfect!
"You want me hard so you can melt"??? Jesus! such a resounding statement!
It's just one perfect line after another.
"I want my death to wake you up and clean you out" the generosity of the dying!
These are my new famous last words!
at 09:28, 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 1
i am in love with lebanese
Dear Sally,
Thanks a lot for this film.Magnificent, sensible and sure will be the classics!!
I am in love with lebanese man.That is why i felt something special watching YES.As it was shooted for us.I wanna share with my thoughts:there are no religious,no cultural conflicts where LOVE is available.
Women!!!!!Love lebenese men-they are something special:)

sally potter
at 03:28, 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 193
reply to jaci hull
The beautiful high desert! Sorry to hear you are starving there in that glorious landscape. But I’m glad the lines spoke to you. I think you are the first person I have heard to pick out those two particular lines. It’s good to know they have been heard, and that they resonated with you. Welcome home.
sally potter
at 03:29, 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 193
reply to lila
I too believe in the power of love, especially when it joins with respect. Enjoy your love!
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