The Iranian-Italian Co-Production directed by Demofilo Fidani
By Darius KADIVAR
The Year 1968 was certainly one of the strangest one's of the Swinging 60's. Man had not yet walked on the Moon but there were signs of change in nearly all aspects of Western Society and Popular Culture. A shortlived revolution was to shake France in May but it was to have far-fetched implications throughout the country for the decades to come. The Beatles who had just released the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band were to make TV history by singing the "Revolution Song" on David Frost's Show but a closer look at the lyrics made it unclear as to what were the Fab's Four political convictions:
"Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out"
Were they supporting the French Student movement ? Or was the BBC actually recuperating them so as to prove how much the British Monarchy was in fact more liberal to the French Republic thus teasing it's natural ally despite a century old Entente Cordiale ? In an atmosphere of Anti-Americanism due to the Vietnam War, the American Way of Life was constantly challenged by a youth in search of new role models and ideals. Hollywood in turn was to also seeing the rise of European Cinema and its Studio's with some perplexity. Rome's Cinecitta, Berlin's Babelsberg or Paris' Boulogne were now competing on he global market of films and even Hollywood was seeking cheap labor and low production costs for its own films on the Old Continent. Ben-Hur or Quo Vadis ? to name a few were entirely shot in Rome's Cinecitta with a cast of thousands. At the same time some Italian film directors were getting noticed for reinventing a genre that had virtually disappeared since the 1950's: The Western. Sergio Leone was certainly the one to reinvent it and propelled a young unknown American to Stardom in Europe before conquering the American Market. His name was Clint Eastwood. Other Italian Colleagues were to imitate the Great Leone with more or less success. Amongst them was Demofilo Fidani often compared to the Ed WOOD of Western Spaghetti's for his often improvised scripts and fairly cheaply produced films. Needless to say that many of these films hired foreign talents including former aging Hollywood Stars like British Stewart Granger, or American Lex Barker to add some production value to their films. On the other hand many Italian or French stars appearing in these films adopted American sounding names like Jeff Cameron, or Donald O'Brien just to easily sell out to the international market. Some could hardly even speak English but were dubbed for the overseas release of their movies. Interestingly Italy and Spain each offered the natural landscape where to shoot Western films or Epics (known as Péplums aka Roman Togas). As long as one had Mediterranean looks you could easily be cast as a Mexican or American Native and then be dubbed in any other language prior to the film's release. If many of these films hardly made film history unlike Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly or Once Upon a Time in the West many have over the years reached a level of Cult Status by die hard aficionados and to some good degree these films testify of an era where directors were not afraid to experiment new possibilities on film and to some degree influence both Cinema and Television.
Persian Spaghetti: The American Far West has been a source of
fascination in Iran's Pop and social culture. ©Iranian.com pictory
If Hollywood Films represented the major part of film importations in Iran under the Pahlavi Era, Iranians were also very fond of Italian and French Cinema's mainly because of the cultural and historical ties with both countries. Neo Realism and French New Wave Cinema imports were often dubbed in Persian and were to influence many aspiring future filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf in the decade that followed. Interestingly some Iranian Stars like Fardin, Googoosh or Puran were also to seize the opportunity to work in Italy to shoot Advertisements or make films.
Sex and Violence in Storm over Petra another Italian co production
with Fardin and Puran. ©pictory Iranian.com
Mohamed Ali Fardin who had just reached Star Status by directing and playing in the Iranian Classic film Sultaneh Ghalbha (See: Sultan of My Heart) was to draw the attention of Italian director Demofilo Fidani that same year. His good looks and onscreen charisma were enough to convince the Italian director to hire him and give him top billing and screen credits with other Italian Stars of the Film Fabio Testi and Jeff Cameron.
The film was entitled "Ed ora... raccomanda l'anima a Dio!" Aka "And Now... Make Your Peace with God". Co-Produced with Iranian and Italian producers, the film was shot on location in Italy. It should be said in hindsight that given the Iranian landscape very much familiar to some area's in Italy or Spain, one could wonder what the result would have been if shot in Iran. What is certain however is that Iran's exotic and yet familiar landscape's were to be seriously considered in later years by both European and Hollywood Productions. Thus the James Bond film " The Man with the Golden Gun" Starring Roger Moore in the title role was initially to be shot in Iran but finally located in the Far East. However in the late Seventies Valerio Zurlini's Desert of the Tartars was shot in Bam and James Fargo's Caravans starring Anthony Quinn, Michael Sarrazin and Jennifer O'Neill was shot in Yazd and Fars Provinces in Iran.
Demofilo Fidani's Western Spaghetti Starring Fardin and Fabio Testi
in the Title Roles. ©pictory Iranian.com
One can ponder on what the Iranian film industry of the time could have achieved had history not decided otherwise. What is certain though is that Fardin's film is probably the only Western Spaghetti co-produced with Iran. It may have even tempted some Iranian directors to even try and create the Persian equivalent of a Western Spaghetti for which Italian Cinema of the 60's and 70's was popular for and given the cultural fascination at the Time of Iranians for all things American. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 however put an end to such an eventuality as much as the end of general interest for the Spaghetti genre by that time. "
VIVA IL CINEMA !
Ed ora... raccomanda l'anima a Dio!" may be available only in Italy or Spain. It would be interesting to see it released on DVD in a restored version. If any of the readers have a clue as to the whereabouts of this film I would be very much interested.
film director Parvin Ansary in Italian Cinema interviewed by Brian Appleton
Iranian Pioneers in French Cinema by Darius KADIVAR
Maya Sansa Persian Italian
Actress by Darius KADIVAR
About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Columnist for OCPC Magazine in LA and Paris.
... Payvand News - 8/17/07 ... --