Thursday, October 1, 2009

Claude LeLouch



کلود لیلوش

Iran (1971)
Claude LeLouch (b. 1937)

Audio/Visual: sound, color
Music: Francis Lai
18 Minutes

This film is best understood after watching Albert Lamorisse's Baadeh Sabah, an ostentatious propaganda film of the same commission that was originally rejected for it's inadequate portrayal of Iran's nouveau-modernism (urban youth, industrial marvels) and it's overly-lyrical style. In LeLouche's rendition, there are no such inadequacies. The focus is on culture - heritage, modernity and (what soon would be named) Westernization. Past and present meet - veils and miniskirts, camels and helicopters, remains of ancient Persia, the highlights of Islamic art, caviar and the oil fields and gas pumps. The Shah looks good in white turtlenecks and Farah Diba is seen in the Farah Diba hairstyle. This charming couple didn't copy Europan royalty, rather appeared as an Eastern equivalent to Mr. and Mrs. John F. Kennedy - Pax Americana had succeeded Rule Britannia. The Pahlavi dynasty was a young one, but here the Shah is depicted as the modern link in an old tradition. Many emperors have used this trick to establish a dynasty, or at least their own position. By this time the picture of Iran was changing. There was more talk of political refugees than of hairstyles. Some years passed. Came the the Islamic revolution, and Westernization was banned. Very soon it was about good or evil, black or white. This film has the quality of being both entertaining and evoking the big question of our time.


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