In theaters now is a movie called "September of Shiraz" starring Selma Hayak and Adrien Brody and directed by Wayne Blair, based on a novel by Dalia Sofer. It is based on a true story. The movie gives a telling tale of a wealthy Jewish family caught in the crossfires of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979. From someone whose parents survived that ordeal, I have to say that the movie is an accurate story of the events that took place at that time in that area. It also does great job of giving thoughtful points of view from both sides of the revolution: in this case a wealthy Jewish family that benefited from the Shahs regime versus the revolutionaries who struggled from the same regime. Great conversations take place between the matriarch of the wealthy family, Farnaz who is played by Selma Hayak and her housekeeper, Habibeh played by Shohreh Aghdashloo, regarding the hierarchy and their placement into social classes that they both belong to. Also great conversations exists between Isaac, the wealthy Jewish business man played by Adrien Brody and his guard keeper, Mohsen played by Alon Aboutboul, about the reversals of their power and fates since the revolution has taken place, while Isaac is jailed. Thus, the movie sheds lots of light to the social class struggles at the time and establishes a dialogue for both points of view of what in this author's opinion may go down as one of the biggest seminal events in history. Good acting and good historical cinematography also make this film a winner.
This movie serves memory as a movie released in 1991 about an American woman and her daughter being caught in Iran recently after the revolution, "Not Without My Daughter". Just like that movie, "Septembers" is undergoing some backlash for representing Iranians (especially supporters of the revolution) as barbaric savages and for reiterating how the American media has portrayed Iranians for over 36 years through this time. This is also being expressed through reviews of the movie.
For instance, Godfrey Chesire, a movie reviewer on Roger Ebert.com, gave the movie a laughable 1/2 a star out of 4. Now that is an absurd rating for a movie with this caliber. This negligible value of this rating should spark enough notoriety to have people pay to view the film. But in his review, Chesire notes that the movie "doesn’t lay a glove on the era’s historical complexities". Well in response, I respectfully disagree and also note on the fact that features are not documentaries. If "Septembers" was a historical documentary then it would be scorned if it did not present more of the complexities that involved the Iranian Revolution. But it is not. "Septembers" is a film presenting one family's struggle in this revolution. Chesire further writes "the film (scripted by Hanna Weg) relies on the same old simplistic images and reductive assumptions that have characterized most U.S. media coverage for the last 37 years". First, political biases of an individual should not lay creed to the cinematic value of a movie. For instance, someone with religious faith can still find notable art praise for an atheistic song like "Blasphemous Rumors" by Depeche Mode. Chesire goes on to write "The only sliver of context we’re given is a brief TV news report which indicates that the Islamists who led the revolution are now consolidating their power, “shariah law” has been imposed and many of those who supported the revolution, including students and “socialists” (meaning communists: the Tudeh party), are being dealt with harshly". Again, I respectfully disagree and I would like to remind Chesire that sometimes movies DO represent history as it was. During the Iranian Revolution of 1979, innocent people were executed and imprisoned because of their political stances prior to the revolution. Bodies were hung on busy streets for people to see. And from the first hand experience of my family, people's possessions and assets were wrongfully taken.
Yet, again, Chesire writes "That myopic view, no doubt, is the same lens through which elites usually view their political displacement: they did nothing wrong, of course, but were entirely spotless victims of ungrateful lower-class miscreants motivated by greed for what wasn’t theirs". Now this is to the point of contradiction to moments of the movie when Isaac realizes and admits that he was guilty by turning a blind eye to the plight of the poor in his country. All of this leads me to ask this question to Chesire: Were we watching the same movie?
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