By Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet, Tehran Times
"Princess of Rome", young Iranian director Hadi Mohammadian's animation about a religious historical story about Imam Hassan Askari's marriage to Malika, the granddaughter of Roman Emperor Caesar, is on screen at Iranian theaters.
Technically, the animation should be deemed in the avant-garde among all the animated films ever produced by the Iranian motion picture industry.
A compelling story is selected to tell through the medium of animation; everybody wants to know how the Christian woman Malika could become the wife of Imam Hassan Askari (AS) and the mother of Imam Mahdi (AS), the Awaited Savior in Shia Islam.
However, the producers have failed to recount the plot well and the outcome falls below expectations as a result.
In addition, in historical religious dramas, filmmakers express their ideas based historical facts, while the surrealistic scenes in "Princess of Rome" cause difficulty for the audience in distinguishing fantasy from reality.
In an interview published after the release of "Princess of Rome", 33-year-old Mohammadian compared his work with animated movies being produced by U.S. companies and said, "Technically speaking, I dare to say that we do not fall below that which they produce."
"Of course, this is somehow an exaggerated claim," he stated and added, "However, I have explained and you may judge for yourself whether I am right or wrong."
"A team of 2,000 animators and artists spent four years and a budget of $100 million producing works such as 'Frozen' and 'Brave'... while we made the animation with a budget of less than one percent of that amount in one-fourth of the time with a crew of 100 people," Mohammadian said.
However, he said that his animation meets only 60 percent of the quality standards of U.S. animated productions.
"Making a comparison between Iranian animations and U.S. productions is unfair," he noted.
"Princess of Rome" Official Trailer
Mohammadian and producer Hamed Jafari faced difficulties in providing the necessary funds to produce the animation.
After their failed attempt to gain the support of relevant Iranian companies to provide startup funding for the project, they entered into talks with the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts, a Lebanese youth movement affiliated with Hezbollah.
As a result, the organization got the franchise for the Arabic version of the animation.
Having the support of a political organization for a cultural production appears to affect its international marketing campaign.
By the end of three weeks following its release in Iran, the movie had already grossed 6 billion rials ($180,000).
Mohammadian recently said that his team is ready to make a sequel to "Princess of Rome".
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