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It's just a movie
by Asa Butcher
2007-03-14 09:24:41
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Have you heard of the latest historical epic to emerge from Hollywood? It is called 300 and it is a retelling of a battle in which a small Greek army resisted a Persian invasion. I know you would usually expect Thanos to jump at an opportunity to highlight Iranian stupidity and paranoia, but this time I felt it my responsibility as a movie lover and Brit to write about this issue.

I’ll begin with the movie aspect of this fresh saga, although this will contain a revelation that may shock some of Ovi’s more impressionable readers. Ok, here goes: Cinema doesn’t reflect reality. There, I said it. It is true. Promise. Have you seen a Man of Steel flying around saving the day recently? Has Jabba the Hut ever slithered past you in the street? Has a planet full of apes been discovered? Do DeLoreans travel in time? Do toys come to life? Well, you get my point.

Hollywood has never been interested in truth because it is simply boring and if you are somebody who treats the latest blockbuster as a history lesson then you will probably be thinking, “Hey, what’s the problem? I thought Persia and Iran were two separate countries!” Hollywood lies, which is also known as creative licence. The latest example that crossed my path was in The Dirty Dozen and the portrayal of hand grenades being packed full of enough explosive to destroy a radio mast. Err, no they can’t.

Come on, who was surprised that James Cameron didn’t decide to blame the Titanic’s tragic end on time travelling alien terrorists? Remember that Disney decided to change Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame into a happy ending and received extensive grief, except from the kids who only cared it was a poor effort by the studio. People lose in life, but win in the movies; that is why we have movies.

Javad Shamqadri, a cultural advisor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said it was "plundering Iran's historic past and insulting this civilization". I am guessing that this means that the movie won’t be distributed throughout Iran’s cinema chains, although I don’t remember Iran complaining about the “fictional” Schindler’s List, since the Holocaust never happened according to them.

The daily newspaper Ayandeh-No proclaimed "Hollywood declares war on Iranians" and went on to write: "It seeks to tell people that Iran, which is in the Axis of Evil now, has for long been the source of evil and modern Iranians' ancestors are the ugly murderous dumb savages you see in 300." Well, if you put it like that… The only dumb thing they are doing is paying lip service to this movie and putting the thought into moviegoer’s minds.

Anyway, hasn’t Iran learnt by now that, unless you are American, you don’t stand a chance of a fair portrayal in a Hollywood production? Take a look at the British in movies and then take an even closer look. My British ancestors, sorry, I mean my English ancestors are all depicted as cold-blooded murderous bastards, especially when Mel Gibson is involved - Exhibit A: Braveheart. Exhibit B: The Patriot.

If we, the English, aren’t killing children or slaughtering poor Scots, then we are playing upstairs and downstairs in Jane Austen country with Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson riding horses and shouting ‘What Ho!’ America loves Scotland, Wales and Ireland - I would hazard a guess that many Americans think it part of the UK – probably because they are seen as kindred spirits also in a fight against the English. I just don’t understand why we always seem to receive the sharp end of the camera lens.

I guess it could be worse…I could be French and have to endure that horrific stereotype in most Hollywood flicks. Australians, Russians, Canadians, Mexicans and even Greeks – just look at John Travolta in Grease, hmmm – all have to suffer at the hands of so-called creative licence, but do you hear about any of them whinging about it? No. Why? My guess would be that they have developed a sense of humour about themselves and remember that one crucial point: It is just a movie!

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Thanos2007-03-14 09:58:01
Actually far before ‘Hollywood declares war to Iran,’ Iran had declared war to Greece when in the 4th and 3rd century B.C. they invaded Greece a few times with millions that included mercenaries. Greece won this huge army with small armies in Marathon (there lays the origins of the marathon race, when a soldier run from marathon to Athens fully armed to announce “we won!”), Salamina in a real disaster for the Persian fleet, Thermopile that inspired the comic and Plateae!

F.A. Hutchison2007-03-14 12:20:43
Having studied 'narrative,' and written 'Hollywood' movies, I must respond. When you say, 'It's just a movie!' you couldn't be more misguided! Movies, generally 'fairy tales,' are the mythology the world 'lives by!' This generally unconscious to most. Myths, are stories we live by!
Why are most themes, 'good overcoming evil?' We need this! Movies function at a very deep level. The 'surface features,' change (as do the times), but the plot types always the same (only 36)!'I know why you wrote what you did, but to say, 'It's just a movie!' belies your ignorance of such! Sorry!
F.A. Hutchison (in China)
Maybe coming to Finland this summer and we can discuss further.

Asa2007-03-14 18:48:01
Thanks Hutch, you are right, although you can't help but have this kneejerk reaction to such reactions such as this. Anyway, isn't history written by the victors!

Hope you have settled in your new apartment.

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