Posted by: kshayes513 | June 25, 2009

“The Lord of the Rings” in Tehran

I don’t usually go into politics or current events here, but in this case I feel compelled to make an exception. From an anonymous Iranian correspondent to Time comes this extraordinary report on the effect of watching a certain film trilogy in that defiant city this week.  World builders, take note: your creative work might be more important than you imagine.  Tolkien’s care, skill and love created a mythology that has a profound effect on an audience he could never have anticipated.

Watching the Lord of the Rings in Tehran (excerpt)

Gandalf the White

Gandalf the White

“In normal times, Iranian television usually treats its viewers to one or two Hollywood or European movie nights a week. But these are not normal times, so it’s been two or three such movies a day. It’s part of the push to keep people at home and off the streets, to keep us busy, to get us out of the regime’s hair. The message is “Don’t worry, be happy.” Channel Two is putting on a Lord of the Rings marathon as part of the government’s efforts to restore peace.

“Lots of people, adults and kids, are watching in the room with me. On the screen, Gandalf the Grey returns to the Fellowship as Gandalf the White. He casts a blinding white light, his face hidden behind a halo. Someone blurts out, “Imam zaman e?!” (Is it the Imam?!) It is a reference, of course, to the white-bearded Ayatullah Khomeini, who is respectfully called Imam Khomeini. But “Imam” is at the same time a title of the Mahdi, a messianic figure that Muslims believe will come to save true believers from powerful evildoers at the time of the apocalypse. Isn’t that our predicament?”

You can read the rest here. Then you might be tempted, as I am, to put on a green scarf and go stand with these people:

Protest in Tehran - Getty Images

Protest in Tehran - Getty Images

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