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I finally got to see the Iranian film Marmolak (The Lizard)!

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

My friend Rana called before lunch to see if I could go with her in the afternoon to see the film, as she knew I was busy for the evening. I guess by now you all know about the recent successful film Marmolak (the Lizard) which is being screened in the Iranian cinemas. Last week when I heard that the film's screening will be stopped, I said to myself, 'bad luck you missed it.' But then I saw the good side to it and thought, well I shall probably be the only one in my circle of friends who has not seen the film.

Cartoon by Haditoons (click on image for details)

Both I and Rana knew the story, or so I thought. But I was in for a real surprise!

We arrived at former cinema Rivoli, in old Shemiran Road, near Taleghani (Takhte-Jamshid) Avenue, at 5:00 pm, just before the film started. The cinema was full. These old cinemas are so comfortable as there is so much leg room between the seats, which is simply great, even for someone like me!

You all know that the story is about this thief who escapes from prison dressed as a mullah. He gets into a village and then becomes the imam -in house priest- of the mosque; and somehow he becomes quite good at his role or rather new job! What I did not know and I had not read anywhere on the net is the fact that this is really a good film. What I liked about it best was the first class script. The real film people all know that if there is a good script then there is a good film and most likely a winner, which the Lizard certainly is.

The whole production was good, including acting, directing, camera, and above all, the script was lively, witty and very thought provoking. The audience laughed and appreciated its many lines. I did not look, nor, after a while, cared what the hand of the censor might have done. A good song will never be ruined even if the singer does not do it justice. That was the same case here. No matter what the scissors might have done, there was so much to it that it still remained as a very entertaining, powerful and enlightening movie. As far as I am concerned and the way I saw it, the film not only did not object to religion or undermine it in a fundamental way, but it inspired much of its goodness; it brought into light what everybody knows and these days can be heard in every taxi, bus, street or office from people of all walks of life. What it did seem to tease was using religion or any other orthodoxy as a cover for something else.

The relationship of the Lizard and his chief jailer reminded me so much of the relationship between Jack Nicholson as Randall McMurphy and the Nurse Ratched played by Louise Fletcher. I can only strongly recommend everyone see it when it hopefully comes your way. I am told that the DVD is already out in the market and I hope that this will make up for the sad fact that the film is supposed to be taken off the Tehran cinemas in two days time. This must be one of those times when a very successful film that has won many awards and is hugely successful commercially is taken off the screens. I am sure there is logic there that I completely fail to see as the film does not undermine anything except the abuse of what is potentially very good and needed by many.

My congratulation goes to all the production team. It is such a fine film. It sheds light on what many, even in Qom, have been saying for a long time, that religion is needed and if it is to survive then it must get back to its roots and help the people rather than help those who preach it or rather pretend to preach it.

Well done Mr. Tabrizi (Director), Mr. Parviz Parastui (the leading Actor) and above all Mr. Peyman Qasemkhani without whose talent and humor this film could not possibly be so very simple and sophisticated at the same time!

... Payvand News - 5/19/04 ... --

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