Sunday, 2 May 2010
About Ellie is a fantastic Iranian movie. Not so much of the subject - some people go on holiday and a girl disappears - but because it unravels the layers of the modern Iranian - and muslim - culture and lifestyle.
We know we are in a poor country - the BMW is an old model and the beach house terrible - yet they find it superb. Already the setting is clear from the start. People only travel in families and people find their bride or groom from friends. Either fixed weddings or people would choose among someone else's choices for them.
If a girl smiled to someone - or worst yet if a girl stayed with someone alone for 5 minutes, even if they had two arms lengths distance between them, they dated!
And someone - a girl that is - can be engaged to a man, only because of the man's wishes, even if she does not want to!
Ok, there are some good things. Women do have the power to chose over their husband - but not for critical decisions- Men would only marry once. They can divorce and marry a second wife but not simultaneously. A woman can be the driving force behind a group. All group decisions are made by voting. No leader assigned! No one is more important than the other. And men would like to please the women and accept their wish. For a holiday resort that is.
But women would cook and service men while they would play. .!!!
Now, the consesus is all good in happy times. When things go wrong, there is still consensus in decision making, but the blame is put elsewhere. It takes only one strong person to admit their wrong doing and that person is a woman and is 'crucified' because she overstepped her boundaries and her freedom that her man allowed her. In fact this makes him so angry - her freedom of speech and action that is - that he actually strikes her.
If you need to understand what is happening inside the closed doors of a muslim household - moderate muslim would be my humble guess - then absolutely watch this movie. Twenty times more powerful than reading 2,000 books on the subject. And overall a very good movie, great acting and directing.