Iran News ...


09/18/08

THE TIMELESS LEGEND OF ROSTAM AND SOHRAB

By Darius KADIVAR

 

Tajik director Boris Kimyagarov's 1971 Epic tribute to Persian Poet's Patriotic Ode (*)

 


photocomposition©DK

 

The recent territorial conflict between Georgia and Russia over a divided Ossetia is a sad reminder of the frontier and ethnic tensions that continue to exist between the various populations of what used to be the Soviet Empire. Yet Russian interventionism beyond its traditional frontiers is nothing new and has reappeared regularly throughout its long history be it under Tsarist rule or during the Communist era. Few however may know or remember that much of the new current nations that have emerged since the fall of the Iron curtain in the late 1980's once belonged (hardly less than a 150 years ago) to a far more ancient and equally sophisticated multinational entity that of: The Persian Empire. It should be noted, that despite the successive Tsarist and Soviet Policies of cultural and linguistic assimilation, that neither regimes, were able to completely eradicate the deep cultural and historical identification of these conquered people to their Persian roots. This has been particularly true for the People of Tajikistan who have maintained strong linguistic and cultural ties with their Iranian siblings so proudly symbolized by their national flag colored similarly in red, white and green and crested with a golden star studded royal Crown (Although Tajikistan is a Republic) in replacement of the Sun & Lion emblem of former Persian Dynasties. Another remarkable testimony of Tajikistan's Persian Heritage can be found in the works of one of its leading cinema pioneers director Boris Kimyagarov (1920-1979) whose films were greatly influenced by the Shahnameh ( Book of Kings) an Epic Patriotic Ode by one of Iran's greatest Poets: Hakīm Abū l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī, better known as Ferdowsi.




 
The Legend of Rostam and Sohrab: A milestone in Tajik Cinema History influenced by Persian Mythology photocomposition©DK

 

Born in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) to a Jewish family, Bension (Boris) Arievich Kimyagarov was to move to Tajikistan's capital Duchanbeh where he grew up and upon adulthood chose to become a teacher. However his love of Poetry and particularly the works of Persia's Literary Icon Hakīm Abū l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī, better known as Ferdowsi, were to have a great influence on him and drive him towards an entirely different career choice as a filmmaker. He was accepted at the prestigious All Russian Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow where he learned Filmmaking with Russian film maestro Sergei Eisenstein. The strong influence of Eisenstein (who with D.W.Griffith is considered as one of the two founding fathers of Cinema as an Art form in interaction with film editing as a visual tool of expression) on Boris Kimyagarov's future epic productions would be an understatement. Like Eisenstein, Kimyagarov shares a fascination for historical themes that would include a large cast of extras to recreate battle scenes of epic proportions. Like in most epics however history is just a pretext to create a canvas for a more intimate story that reflects the movie director's own thematic concerns or visual obsessions. What clearly defines Kimyagarov's filmography is the awakening of the Tajik's national self-consciousness and the "Epic genre" was certainly what allowed him best to translate his cinematic vision and sensitivities. This was not an easy task for three major reasons which will be developed in this article. One being state censorship during the Soviet Era, which discouraged any form of historical interpretation or glorification of an ethnical, political, social or cultural identity that differed from the ideological lines of the communist party or that of the Russian dominated politburo established in Moscow. The other being that Epic films have always been costly, so unless it could serve the Soviet propaganda machine, as was the case for most of Sergei Eisenstein's films like The Battle Ship Potemkin, Ivan The Terrible or Alexander Nevski, it was virtually impossible to finance a film without government subsidies nor was it possible to mobilize military units as extras for sequences like Battle Scenes requiring large masses of people. Lastly by the time Kimyagarov was to shoot his masterpiece, The Timless Legend of Rostam and Sohrab (Also known under the title The Legend of Rostam), in the early 1970's, the epic genre was considered as an obsolete form of cinema entertainment both in Europe and Hollywood. As Western Cinema dealt with contemporary issues, so did the Soviet Film industry, although with more difficulty due to government censorship and certainly with less controversy than in the West. (***)

 


Common frontiers but different geo-strategic interests & alliances have

 shaped the diplomatic relationships between Persia/Iran & Russia/USSR

in different Era's in History  photocomposition©DK

 

 

Since the advent of motion pictures, filmmakers immediately saw the potential of historical epics as a money making franchise that would draw enormous crowds to the movie theaters. This has been a constant factor throughout the different ages in Cinema History, be it during the Silent Era, the Talkies, the advent of Technicolor, its  competing years with Television or to this day's digital age. The genre has known its up and downs but after each disappearance it has resurfaced even more brilliantly by reinventing itself to the delight of audiences thirsty for action, sex, sweat, blood and tears in the sand, while cheering pomp and glory in the arenas or battlefields of the silver screen as an illustrated cinematic reminder of mankind's struggle through time and space.

 


History, Entertainment or Propaganda ? Probably a little of all three motivated the first Epic film directors, but to their credit, they also defined the key's and rules of the craft of filmmaking, which continue to be applied to this day particularly in the field of film editing.  photocomposition©DK

 

Not surprisingly  one of the very first Epic super productions was made in Italy as early as 1914 directed by Giovanni Pastrone entitled Cabiria which was a love story set at the Time of the Punic Wars and the fall of Carthage to Roman troops. This film was to have a great influence German Expressionist director Fritz Lang who produced the avant garde film  Metropolis years later and on American director D.W. Griffith who had just finished directing the controversial civil war era film Birth of a Nation and who was therefore encouraged to make another milestone picture Intolerance in 1916. The latter was to be Hollywood's response in its pioneering years to the growing competition of European Cinema yet the first part of the movie set during the conquest of Babylon by the Persian King Cyrus ( the Great) is visually strongly influenced by Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria. As far as Epic films were concerned the competition between Italian and Hollywood filmmakers continued throughout the 1920's and 1930's through various productions set indifferently during ancient Biblical times or during the different era's of the Roman Empire. However the rise of Mussolini's fascist movement to power led to a series of productions aimed towards propaganda than pure entertainment or historical accuracy the most famous of which was Carmine Gallone  Scipio Africanus (1937). The Lavish scale of the production remains incredible even to today's standards, including over 6000 extras in the battle scenes and enormous sets recreating ancient Rome. Like for Cabiria the story set during of the Second Punic Wars, begins with Scipio's futile pleas to the Roman Senate to build an army to battle Hannibal, that climaxes with the battle of Zama. The films message however was aimed at justifying Italy's colonial ambitions shortly after the conquest of Ethiopia by Mussolini's troops a year earlier. During the same time other Hollywood directors and producers were to earn a reputation as "Epic directors" such as Fred Niblo who directed the silent version of Ben Hur:A Tale of the Christ ( 1923) shot partly in Italy while Cecile B. DeMille became known as the King of Epics with a series of historical films including the silent version of The Ten Commandments (1923) (later in 1956 DeMille was to do a remake in Technicolor of the Ten Commandments ) as well as the story of  Cleopatra starring Clodette Colbert. With World War II, epics were to partially disappear from the screens only to reappear again after the war with Gabriel Pascal's British production of  Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) (starring Vivien Leigh and Claude Rains) and reach its pinnacle in the 1950's with a series of Hollywood blockbuster films including Mervyn LeRoy's Quo Vadis ? (1951) Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov, The Robe (1953) starring Richard Burton and Jean Simmons (which was the very first film to be shot entirely in Cinemascope), De Mille's Remake in VistaVision and Technicolor of the Ten Commandments which propelled Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner into international stardom, King Vidor's  Solomon and Sheba (1959) a biblical Lust between Yul Brynner and Gina Lollobrigida and culminating with William Wyler's Ben Hur that earned 11 Oscars ( a record only broken by James Cameron's Titanic in 1997).

 

 


The Sword and Sandal's dominated the Box Office  throughout the 1960's.

American actor/athlete Steve Reeves (a Former Mr. Universe and Mr. America) was to reach stardom with many of these Italian co-productions later dubbed in english for the American Market. photocomposition©DK

 

 

After Ben Hur's unprecedented success that saved MGM from a financial bankruptcy,  equaling the same critical and financial success seemed far more risky for other studios and by the 1960's Hollywood was to shoot its very last major Ancient World Epic movies. One being the critically acclaimed Spartacus(1960) with Kirk Douglas in the title role and directed by Stanley Kubrick while in parallel Joseph L. Mankiewicz's struggled to finish 20th Century Fox's last over budget extravaganza Cleopatra (1963) more famous for generating the tumultuous Love Story between Welsh Star Richard Burton and Hollywood Sweetheart Elizabeth Taylor than for the tragic tale of Rome's Mark Anthony and Egypt's Cleopatra.

 

The success of Epic films in the past decade however gave birth to a specific category of new films known as The Swords and Sandals that was set in ancient times ( usually in Greece, Rome or Egypt ) but where historical inaccuracies and a thin dialogue would be compensated by spectacular action scenes and stunts by larger than life characters often displaying more muscles than brains for the love of Freedom and the arms and lips of a sexy near-naked female co-star. The Swords and Sandals was to the Epic, if you will, what Western Spaghettis were to Westerns. A movie Arena on which Mario Bava ( The Battle of Marathon) could compete with William Wyler (Ben Hur) or Cecile B. DeMille (Ten Commandments) while equally Sergio Leone ( The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) could get even with John Ford (Stage Coach).

 

Most of these co-productions appeared in Italy and were shot on location or other European landscapes like in Greece or Spain where the Mediterranean climate and cheap labor offered the adequate conditions for European producers to compete with Hollywood Studios and often for Hollywood Studios to come and work in Europe. Often an International cast was used in these Italian productions latter dubbed into english for an American audience. A European cast was often gathered while Top billing would be given to one or two American actors whose star status was fading in Hollywood ( like Stewart Granger in his late 40's in Sodom and Gomorrah (1962)) in order to give the Italian produced film some extra "Hollywood-Like" prestige.

 

The quintessential Movie Star in the Sword and Sandals category was without doubt the athletic hunk Steve Reeves who moved from being a former Mr. Universe and Mr. America to becoming one of the highest paid movie Stars in Italy. He was to indifferently  play a series of historical or mythological heroes of ancient Greece, Rome or Troy. Some of his memorable roles were Phillipides In the Giant of Marathon fighting off the Persian Invasion single handedly, Romulus in Pre-Roman Italy in Romulus and Remus aka Duel of Titans, Trojan warrior Aeneas in The Trojan Horse or the invincible Hercules in Labors of Hercules and once again in Hercules Unchained and finally Randus in the Son of Spartacus.

 

Not all these films were considered as masterpieces during their times but many have since reached some kind of "cult-status" amongst aficionados like Rudolph Matť's 300 Spartans aka Lion of Sparta or Robert Wise's Helen of Troy, both being rare examples of small budget but well directed Hollywood Sword and Sandals movies co-produced with European studios and with an international cast. These co-productions certainly did contribute to the development of some of the great European film studios like Rome's Cinecittŗ, Bebelsberg Studio in Berlin or Paris' Studios de Billancourt (which have since disappeared) or Great Britain's Pinewood Studios.

 

These co-productions between European and Hollywood Studio's must have greatly contributed to triggering Hollywood's curiosity for Epic films beyond the United States creating a new generation of movie buffs and filmmakers who were to shift their interests towards non American cultural influences.

 

One Asian film director in particular deserves notice for being one of the Maestro's of the post WWII Japanese Cinema renaissance and for exporting his style across the Pacific Ocean and into the heart of Hollywood's new Golden Boys of the late 1960's and 1970's.  Greatly admired by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Akira Kurosawa made his breakthrough film Rashomon in 1950. It won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, and first revealed the richness of Japanese cinema to the West equally in Europe and the US. But Kurosawa will certainly be best remembered for the epic Shichinin no samurai (1954) (Seven Samurai) that showcasing the magnetic personality of Toshiro Mifune. The story of Seven mighty warriors who became the Seven National Heroes of a Small Japanese village. The film was not only nominated for two Oscars for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design but also won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival of 1954 confirming once again the genuine originality of the great Japanese film maestro to be. The scenario of Kurusawa's Seven Samurai's was so subtle and efficient that it was no surprise that it became the subject of a Hollywood Remake set in the American Far West. Directed by John Sturges in 1960 under the title The Magnificent Seven it introduced as a supporting cast around already charismatic Yul Brynner ( Ten Commandments) to the silver Screen a brochette of Hollywood's fresh new talents who were to gain international Stardom in the decade to come: Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Horst Buchholz, and Eli Wallach.

 


From Asia to Hollywood : Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurais was to inspire John Sturges' Magnificent Seven. Kurosawa was to produce his last epic films ( RAN, Kagemusha) with Hollywood financial backing from its Golden Boys: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. ©imdb &photocomposition ©DK

 

Kurosawa truly bridged Japan's young Cinematography into the Hollywood Dream Machine proving if needed that a good script can have a universal appeal regardless of which language or nationality it originates from. It also proved that a Japanese Sword and Sandals movie set in 12th Century Japan could easily be transposed into the Wild Wild West of 19th century America with the same efficiency and visual inventiveness.

After a period of personal and artistic crisis in Japan, Kurosawa made a comeback strangely with the help of Russian Producers with the epic
Dersu Uzala (1975) about a Russian army explorer who is rescued in Siberia by a rugged Asiatic hunter renews his friendship with the woodsman years later when he returns at the head of a larger expedition. The hunter finds that all his nature lore is of no help when he accompanies the explorer back to civilization....

 

Who said Hollywood and America are Ungrateful ? ;0)

 

Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala was awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

 

In later years the Epic Maestro of Japanese Cinema with the help of admirers Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, was able to produce the samurai epic Kagemusha (1980), which was in many ways a dry run for Ran (1985), his second Shakespeare adaptation after the barbaric, riveting Kumonosu jo (1957) (Throne of Blood based on the Tragedy of Macbeth). ( read interview of Lucas below (*****))

 

 

 

 

 

Iranian New Wave Cinema Maestro Abbas Kirostami (****) who greatly admired the Japanese Maestro also received the Akira Kurusawa Award in 2000 . He also generously awarded it to one of Iran's Pre-Revolution Iconic Film Stars Behrouz Vossoughi during the ceremony in San Francisco. Insert Photo Vossoughi congratulated by Hollywood Star Clint Eastwood at the same Ceremony( Also See Video) (****) ©imdb & SFIFF & photocomposition© DK

 

However Kurosawa's successful attempt in drawing interest in the Sword and Sandals genre was an exception to the rule for by the early late 60's and early 70's the publics interest for glossy muscles and shining armor was ebbing in favor of realism on screen. The Woodstock generation revolted by the Vietnam War was gradually turning its back on the old Hollywood values and notions of heroism. Sex, Drugs and Rock'n Roll had become the new motto of the counterculture movement of the 1970's. Even John Wayne's iconic image of the American West was deeply shook after the Duke's staunch support for the American Led War on Vietnam that led him to producing, directing and acting in his controversial propaganda film The Green Berets (for which he was greatly criticized including by some of his own fellow colleagues and friends like Epic Star Kirk Douglas) and thus announcing the beginning of the end of old Hollywood and the beginning of a new era of political and cultural consciousness in the United States ( Also read My article Hollywood and Oil).   

 

It should be noted that long before the advent of VHS tapes and the DVD technology as we know of today, not strangely enough the Swords and Sandals genre's was still considered as a spectacular form of popular entertainment and benefited regular airing on the small TV screens across the United States and Europe. Outside America and Europe it even continued to inspire filmmakers. Turkish Cinema for instance with great box office success had launched its own version of the Swords and Sandals hero with TARKAN (1969) ( Not to be confused with TARZAN) and its successive sequels Tarkan and the Silver Saddle (1970), Tarkan:The Gold Medallion (1972), even one with an improbable title Tarkan versus the Vikings (1971).

 

 

The Turkish Sword & Sandals Hero : TARKAN, HŁdaverdi, Bizimkiler, «obanÁantası Copyright ©  Sezgin Burak

 

 

 

In a sense the Sword and Sandals In Asia had become the Western Spaghetti of the so-called Third World countries and prefigured what was to soon become a trademark for much of what John Woo or Bruce Lee were to achieve in Asian Cinema and subsequently copied by the likes of Quentin Tarantino with Kill Bill  or Andy Wachowski with The Matrix .

Not surprisingly Boris Kimyagarov's movie career was naturally influenced by the Sword & Sandals  genre as well as the Russian as well as other Asian, European and Hollywood epic films (when not censored by the Soviet film censorship department) that nourished his youth.   

 

Like most young aspiring filmmakers Kimyagarov started his film initiation by making documentaries at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). One of his first major documentary was not surprisingly about his native land Tajikistan which he directed in 1946. His first breakthrough into feature films with Dokhounda in 1956. In 1965 he directs his subversive A Time For Peace aka Hasan-Arbakesh which will be censored by Soviet Authorities in later years. It which is a uniquely creative attempt to tell about the traditional culture of Tajiks, being destroyed by the new Soviet power. It was shot in during the period of the so-called Thaw a relatively free period during which Soviet Censorship was partially reversed. The main topic of the film is the clash of two cultures, two worlds. The narration in the film is built according to traditional mythological and epic schemes. At first glance, you might think that the film is going to tell a trivial story about an arbakesh named Hasan, who has a cart and a horse and dreams only of earning enough to be able to marry his beloved. As in a traditional fairy tale Hasan is young and handsome, strong and determined and very much in love. The fairy-tale plot, however, is set against the very real historical background, which soon starts to interfere brutally with the romantic thrust of the story. Unlike most of the "revolutionary" films that were shot in the Soviet Asian republics and focused on the bloody fights between the "reactionary" forces of traditional societies and the "righteous" Soviet "liberators," "Hasan-Arbakesh" shows the process of peaceful Socialization, that nevertheless, ruthlessly reroutes the fates of the characters. Hasan's cart is replaced by a truck, personal work becomes collectivized, the veil is jettisoned and a liberated woman, like Hasan's beloved Saodat, joins the Komsomol and is sent to teach in a remote town. By the end of the film, the ever-joyous, singing and dancing Hasan is only a shadow of his former self, lost in a totally new strange world, full of "kolkhoz peasants", "proletarians" , pioneers with bugles and drums, and endless columns of cars, "busy building Stalin's communism."

 

Unlike other movies of Kimyagarov, this one, because of the communist censorship, was left unknown to the wide audience outside Tajikistan until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980's.

 


Although born in Iran's Tehran to Azeri Parents, Pop Diva Faegheh Atashin, better known as Googoosh, is also considered a National Icon in Tajikistan where her Birthday was declared a national holiday by its current Tajik President. ( Also Watch Video of Googoosh Concert with Mehrdad in NY Madison Square Garden sing "Shenasnameye man  " a Patriotic Ode to her

©googoosh.com & photocomposition©DK

 

 

From 1958 to 1975, Kimyagarov's work alters between screenwriting as well as film direction while heading the Tajik Union of filmmakers as first secretary. In all he will direct 18 films.

 

During this time he will then direct:

 

The Fate of the Poet (1958) dedicated to the 1150th birthday of Persian Poet Rudaki : Abuabdullo Rudaki is remembered as the founder of the Tajik-Persian classic literature, the father of poetry in Persian (aka Farsi) that many Turkmen poets used in their times. Little is known on this film (or rather my research did not allow me to find much) except that it is based on the script of Satim Ulugzade and a People's Artist ( Soviet Term) of Tajikistan Marat Aripov plays the role of Rudaki in the film.

 

And 

 

A Shahnameh Trilogy:

 

Three films in the form of a Trilogy based or inspired by the Epic Poem of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh (Book of Kings): Kaveh Ahanghar aka The Banner of the Black Smith (1961), The Timeless Legend of Rostam and Sohrab also known as The Legend of Rostam (1971)

 

  • Kaveh Ahanghar aka The Banner of the Black Smith (1961): Kaveh Ahangar is a mythical figure who first appears in Ferdousi's Shahnameh as the hero who rescued his people from the ruthless ruler in power at his time. Kaveh was such a man who stood up against the tyrant Zahak (known as snake-shouldered). Zahak was the son of Mardas an Arab ruler in Iran. Stories have it that Zahak killed his father in order to earn the kingdom. It was believed that Zahak had a special relationship with the devil. The theme had everything to seduce Kimyagarov and serve as a metaphor for Tajikistan desire for independence and Soviet Occupation. Even if the Soviet censorship that prevailed at the time did not allow him to fully express it so openly.

 

  • The Timeless Legend of Rostam and Sohrab also known as The Legend of Rostam (1971) Of major interest in this article. The Tajik Title is Rustam i Sukhrab with  a  script by Grigori Koldunov, photographed by cinematographer Dovlatian Khudonazarov and a music score by Arif (Aref) Melikov. The Cast was essentially Tajik but also included Russian and Georgian actors including Svetlana Norbayeva, Sairam Issayeva, Bimbulat Vatayev , Otar Koberidze, Mahmud Bakhidov. What personally fascinated me about this movie which is now available online (see below under Authors Notes) in Persian/Tajik as well as Russian (see Below: Authors Notes) was the striking resemblance of the sets, costumes as well as some action scenes to German Hollywood director Wolfgang Petersen ( DAS BOOT) 2003  blockbuster TROY starring Brad Pitt in his first epic role as Achilles, Peter O'Toole (King Priam), Orlando Bloom ( Paris), Eric Bana (Hector), Diane Kruger (Helen) and Saffron Burrows (Andromache) to name a few. The story of Helen of Troy and the Trojan War being situated in Anatolia present day Turkey may explain some of these unexpected yet striking similarities between two films produced less than 40 years apart. The similarities stop here however for the two stories are very different even if the themes of Life vs. death (mortality vs immortality), father vs. son, brothers in arms or sacrifice are common denominators between the Homeric tale of Troy and the Epic Shahnameh of Ferdowsi. Entirely shot in Cinemascope and in Technicolor the film is a transposition of the legendary poem and the dialogue maintains the lyricism of the Persian Poet's verse. It has all the ingredients that made the success of the contemporary Epic and Sword and Sandals films of the Italian Era even if at times the dialogue may seem slow ( it is however easy to understand with a minimum of knowledge of Persian) and  the stunts at times obsolete to today's standards they are nevertheless exciting and gripping to watch particularly the battle scenes between Gurdāfarīd the female warrior and Sohrab, who has just become commander of the Turanian Army. The final horse stunts during which Gurdāfarīd rides away from her pursuing enemies is also breathtaking. The story can be summarized as such: As smoke on the hill tops signals the arrival of foreign invaders on the Persian Steppes of Iran, we learn that the young and dashing Sohrab, has been named as head of the Army of the Shah of Turan ( Iran's most dangerous foe) he is asked to defeat Rostam the greatest warrior of Iran. As Sohrab bids his mother princess Tahmineh goodbye he ignores that his real father is Rostam because of his mother pledge never to release her husbands real identity. As the tragedy is about to unfold Sohrab will be challenged by different warriors amongst which the beautiful but cunning Gurdāfarīd. The epic battles on the Persian Steppes will lead to the Timeless Legend of Rostam and Sohrab's fatal encounter.

 

  • The Legend of Siavash (1977): in his final testimonial film directed shortly before his death in 1979 Kimyagarov, completes his trilogy with the story of the legendary Persian prince who lived in the earliest days of the Persian Empire. He was a son of Kai Kavoos, then Shah of Iran, and due to the treason of his stepmother, Sudabeh (with whom he refused to have sex and betray his father), self-exiled himself to Turan where he was killed innocently by order of The Turanian king Afrasiab. He was later avenged by his son Kai Khosrow. He is a symbol of innocence in Persian Literature. His name literally means "the one with the black horse". Ferdowsi in Shahnameh dubs his horse as Shabrang Behzād literally meaning "night-colored purebred".

 
 

 


The Epic Revival owes greatly to two  European Hollywood directors: British director Ridley Scott ( Read my Article about the recent BODY OF LIES Controversy regarding Iran's talented actress Golshifteh Farahani) brought back with Brio the Epic Sword & Sandals genre with the excellent Gladiator in 2000 along with German director Wolfgang Petersen ( DAS BOOT) three years later and his blockbuster TROY ©imdb

 

 

 

With the return of the Epic Genre and particularly of Swords and Sandal films in recent years one can wonder if Boris Kimyagarov's epic masterpiece that also showcased in various Iranian film festivals during the 1970's and particularly after the Persepolis Celebrations of October 1971 held by the Last Persian Monarch Mohamed Reza Shah Pahlavi will ever inspire a Hollywood remake or one by the talents Iranian film directors of today? The film industry today has made amazing technological advances unimaginable less than 20 years ago. The digital revolution allows to create virtually anything that a creative mind could imagine. Many Hollywood studios like George Lucas' ILM ( Industrial Light and Magic) or Peter Jackson's SFX company (Weta Digital) have gained a strong reputation in every technical aspect of postproduction (I.e.: Special Effects, Lighting, sound effects, miniature and life scale sets, etc... ). A great deal of blockbuster films have been made recently but not all have had critical acclaim due to an excessive use of Special Effects and Stunts that have at times compensated for a thin and uninteresting plot and dialogues. What truly matters is a GOOD SCRIPT and from that point of view good Ol' Ferdowsi has done the hardest job for us. What is certain is that the stories of the Shahnameh have all the necessary ingredients that have made both the critical and box office success of such classics like the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or the The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and other sequals that also happen to be based on classic literary masterpieces. As far as a pool of talents is concerned we are lucky enough to have a great number if Iranians takents both inside and outside Iran( Read: Persian Golden Boys in Hollywood, Iranian pioneers in French Cinema, In the Shadows of Cinematography  ) in nearly all fields

 

So will we live long enough to see a Remake of Boris Kimyagarov's Epic Masterpiece one day ? Lets Hope So !

 

VIVE LE CINEMA !

 

 


Boris Kimyagarov's 1971 Epic Masterpiece ©imdb

 

VIVE LE CINEMA !

 

 

Authors Notes:


 

(*) Watch Boris Kimyagarov's Movie Rostam and Sohrab Online in Ten Parts (In Tadjik/Persian):

 

And RUSSIAN Version of same movie shown in continuity: Watch Here

(**) The Shahnameh:The Persian Book of Kings of Ferdowsi translated by Dick Davis

 

(***) Hollywood censorship was established in 1930 through the Hayes Code that defined the censorship guidelines in American films. It was particularly followed throughout the 1930's, 40's and 50's to satisfy an audience and political establishment that viewed films as a threat to the moral and religious status quo in American society. The law as abandoned by 1968 in favor of the subsequent MPAA film rating system that simply rates a film's thematic and content suitability for certain audiences but cannot impose any restriction on the film's theatrical release. It is one of various motion picture rating systems used to help patrons decide what movies are appropriate for children, for adolescents, and for adults particularly in regard to violent or sexual content.  As far as the Final Cut in editing a film is concerned that is subject to the power struggle that naturally exists between the director and the films producers. European Cinema is known for promoting the Cinema d'Auteur aka Author Cinema which tends to films as an Art form and directors as artists as opposed to Hollywood's concept of Cinema as an Entertainment Industry. If the philisophical debate between L'ART Pour L'ART aka Art for Art's Sake vs L'ART Pour L'ETAT aka Art for the State prevails today in the international film community which struggles for more freedom of expression, it should be noted however that the collective and financial nature of filmmaking distinguishes it from other existing Artforms (apart from Theater or the Opera/Ballet). As a result the notion of Cinema d'Auteur seems to become a more marginal however necessary phenomena today than was the case for the early cinema pioneers or during the French New Wave generation spearheaded by Truffaut and Godard. This assessment is debateable and one can obviously suggest counter examples by naming such greats as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford or Steven Spielberg whose creative talent combined their unique vision and individuality with huge financial investments and remarkeable technical breakthroughs. That would require another debate which is not the purpose of the article here.


Recommended Watching :

 

Zartosht's Fire : Tadjik Classic Concert performed in Dari Persian (youtube)

 

(****) Another New Wave director Mohsen Makhmalbaf shot a beautiful  film Sokout aka Silence in Tajikistan (youtube) . He also pays tribute to Hollywood film Icons Kirk Douglas and John Wayne in a humorous nostalgic scene between a Tailor and a Policeman turned part time actor which is shot like a private joke between the director and movie buffs in Nun Va Goldun aka A moment of Innocence.

 

 

Recommended Readings:

(*****) George Lucas Explains his admiration for Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (Telegraph)

Rostam Related Articles :

Rostam Strikes Back ! by Darius KADIVAR
Rostam Super Hero: Popularizing A Persian Myth...  by Darius KADIVAR

 

 

Films and Art in Eastern Europe & Ex-Soviet Republics:

TEHERAN MON AMOUR by Darius KADIVAR

Film review of Franco-Soviet Film " Tegeran '43 " aka " Tehran 43 " by Darius KADIVAR 

Lessons from the Keeper: Interview with Kayvan Mashayekh by Darius KADIVAR
The Keeper The Legend of Omar Khayyam by Darius KADIVAR (Iranian.com)
The 2nd Persian Golden Lioness Awards By Darius KADIVAR
Persian Youth Honored At The 2nd Persian Golden Lioness Awards In Budapest Hungary By Darius KADIVAR
Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam honoured at The 2nd Persian Golden Lioness Awards In Budapest Hungary By Darius KADIVAR
Persian Music Maestros to be honored at The 2nd Persian Golden Lioness Awards In Budapest Hungary By Darius KADIVAR
Monika Jalili and Noorsaaz Band Honored in Budapest at the 2nd Persian Golden Lioness Awards By Darius KADIVAR
Founders of the 2nd Persian Golden Lioness Awards announce Persian-Hungarian Cultural Bonds to International Press
By Darius KADIVAR

 

Exotic Films/Events/Influences In Relation to Persia/Iran:

 

Gaga For Khayyam: Hollywood's depiction of the Great Persian Poet by Darius KADIVAR
Iranian Pioneers in French Cinema by Darius KADIVAR
French-Iranian director Robert Hossein to revive Epic Tale of Ben Hur in 2006 by Darius KADIVAR

Tim Burton's Oriental Dream by Darius KADIVAR
A Persian Phantom Unmasked by Darius KADIVAR

WINDS OF CHANGE: Darius Danesh Is Rhett Butler at the New London Theatre By Darius KADIVAR
Doris Lessing: A daughter of Kermanshah Nobelized by Darius KADIVAR
Persian Fiddler Lights Up Paris by Darius KADIVAR
Kiarostami Gets Operatic by Darius KADIVAR

I Dream of (A Persian) Jeannie by Darius KADIVAR
Fardin's Western Spaghetti by Darius KADIVAR
Sergio Leon's Colossus Film Debut ! by Darius KADIVAR
Desert of the Tartars: Valerio Zurlini's Epic Nightmare Shot in Bam by Darius KADIVAR

Zardeh Kuh to King Kong : A Great Filmmakers Early Start by Darius KADIVAR

Hollywood and Oil by Darius KADIV

When Giants Meet: Googoosh Greets Shahbanou of Iran at NY Concert by Darius KADIVAR

Youssef Ishaghpour's Rosebud by Darius KADIVAR
Being Princess Shams: Mathilda May portrays Late Shah's Sister by Darius KADIVAR
Persian History Inspires French Comic Book Masters by Darius KADIVAR

In the Shadows of Cinematography with Darius Khondji by Darius KADIVAR
Eye of the Tiger and the Persepolis Generation By Darius KADIVAR
MAGIC IN THE MAKING: Marjane Satrapi's Cinephilic Choice for Persepolis Cast by Darius KADIVAR
Persepolis Music Score Released in France by Darius KADIVAR
MAZEH: A Taste of Persia in the Heart of Paris by Darius KADIVAR
Sultan of My Heart: Monika Jalili and Noorsaaz's remembrance of things past ... by Darius KADIVAR
Tony Nourmand's Golden Eye by Darius KADIVAR 
An Axis of Joy: Noorsaaz Band Triumphs In Paris by Darius KADIVAR
Musical Ode to Cyrus the Great by Darius KADIVAR
Xerxes, the opera by Cyrus KADIVAR (iranian.com)

 

Epic Actors/Films/Books:

He is Awake: Close Up on Cyrus KAR by Darius KADIVAR
In the Arena with Omid Djalili by Darius KADIVAR

IMMORTAL STUNTSMAN: Interview with Darren Shahlavi By Darius KADIVAR

Holy Shohreh: Iranian actress in Biblical Epic on Jesus by Darius KADIVAR
Howard Lee, author of bestseller children's novel Jamshid and the lost Mountain of Light by Darius KADIVAR 
Jake Gyllenhaal Crowned Prince of Persia! By Darius KADIVAR
XERXES a Screenplay by Ren A. Hakim by Darius KADIVAR
Alexander is Back!: Oliver Stone's Epic on The Macedonian Conqueror By Darius KADIVAR
Sword and Sandals : Hollywood Films Set in Ancient Persia by Darius KADIVAR
Battle for The West by Darius KADIVAR
The Persian Empire Strikes Back by Darius KADIVAR
Hollywood Dream Merchants: Persian Props From Oliver Stone's Alexander Movie For Sale By Darius KADIVAR
Intolerance: The Birth of a Hollywood Controversy by Darius Kadivar

 


About the Author:
Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Media Consultant. He is also contributes to
OCPC Magazine in LA/US and to the London Based IC Publications The Middle East Magazine and Persian Heritage Magazine.

... Payvand News - 09/18/08 ... --



comments powered by Disqus

Home | ArchiveContact | About |  Web Sites | Bookstore | Persian Calendar | twitter | facebook | RSS Feed


© Copyright 2008 NetNative (All Rights Reserved)