Monday, April 5, 2010

The Queen and I

The Queen and I (2008; featured at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival) is a unique documentary by Iranian expat filmmaker Nahid Persson, now a resident of Sweden, about Empress Farah. Apart from both being exiled Iranians, the two women have little in common; Persson in her youth before the 1979 Revolution was a leftist agitator dedicated to opposing the regime of Farah's husband the Shah. But the documentary shows how the two women became, if not exactly friends, able to understand each other, and is sympathetic enough to the Empress to appeal to viewers like me whose views are quite unlike the filmmaker's. Scenes with exiled Iranian royalists, especially those visiting the Shah's grave in Egypt, as well as old footage of imperial pageantry, will stir any monarchist's heart, even if such a reaction is quite contrary to Persson's intentions.

When pressed, the Shahbanou ably defends her late husband's much-maligned regime, pointing out among other things that in the context of the Cold War the Soviet Union really was trying to make Iran Communist necessitating a security service, that the allegedly all-powerful SAVAK left the mullahs who would overthrow the Shah untouched, and that the Iranian leftists opposed to Khomeini all fled to the [formerly Shah-allied] Western countries they had denounced as "imperialist," not to their beloved USSR, Cuba, or China. While I certainly do not endorse Nahid Persson's political perspective, which inevitably colors the narration, she has made a film I think monarchists will enjoy almost in spite of herself.

1 comment:

J. Anthony McAlister said...

Beautifully written, Theodore! I really want to see this film now!