Tuesday, March 5, 2013

TAKING SIDES


From what they say, I understand that it was like one of the four versions, the bandit’s, the wife’s, the samurai’s or the hunter’s, each narrating the same series of incidents but slightly varying in key details, in Kurosawa’s Rashomon. It is evident that Ben Affleck did not intend to project exploration of multiple realities like the master filmmaker, but certain Key details were apparently missing in his Academy Award winning picture Argo.

When I watched the movie unaware of the details and the political landscape of Iran at the time it appeared to be a well-crafted thrilling narrative attempting to shed some light on a part of history that Iran, for all the obvious reasons, wished to shut out from its memory. The rescue of 6 Americans caught in the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran by an undercover CIA exfiltrating specialist posed as a Hollywood filmmaker of a fake movie called Argo that forms the film’s premise was presented as a nail-biting suspense thriller, all thanks to the creative expertise of the makers. From beginning to end it fared high on all fronts, be it realism, acting or technicalities and it very well deserved the Academy’s pat on the back. But, zooming out onto the larger picture of the “story” in particular and a “filmmaker’s communal duty” to the world in general, the significance of the fact about the missing Key details becomes glaring.


It was when I recently read an article by Shiva Balaghi in Frontline magazine about the “jingoism” reflected in Ben Affleck’s masterpiece, that I felt the heat of the anger in the voice of an Iranian about the way his community was wrongfully represented in the movie. Even though I saw no attempts in the film to vilify the country, Iranians presented in it were mostly radical protesters which portrayed a collective hostility and hence it seemed like  “Iranians are, for the most part, dangerous and anti-American” in Mr. Balaghi’s words.  From the article it was clear that the key fact that was conveniently missed was the resignation of the civilian government of Iran “after the Ayatollah’s advisors supported the student occupation of the U.S. Embassy despite assurances by the government that it would end the seizure and obtain the release of the hostages” which could have echoed the actual view of the larger mass in the country and portrayed the human component.


The ‘two sides’ of the proverbial coin is sadly redundant when what is in sight from where you are standing is just one of its sides all the time. Perhaps you doubt even the existence of the “other side” that everybody is talking about least to mention start seeing the greenness of their grass. For that audience who never knew the drastic measures undertaken by the civilian government in protests to the stand of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni’s supporters, the position of the country as a whole naturally seemed supportive of the Khomenians.

Now it could be claimed that it was the artistic liberty that urged the filmmaker to clip certain parts of the events that interfered with the narrative or the overall structure. But personally, to me those details that were given a miss did not only seem befitting to the plot but also seemed inevitable to lay out an impartial narrative. But at the end of the day it’s the creator’s call if the baby should have an extra finger or a tail. Here there were a few parts amputated, that you get to know only from further delving into the details of the larger picture. Providing an impartial view of the events might not have been the creator's intention to begin with.

Ben Affleck made a terrific entertainer indeed but the Rashamon effect was desolately incomplete which could at least have laid forth a benefit of the doubt making the work only richer. But at the end of it all, its the creator's prerogative, and it's only human to take sides.

2 comments:

  1. some movies r babies of director/producer and they tend to overlook. probably no one can be 100% correct

    ReplyDelete

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