Friday, June 19, 2009

In Iran, It's "Football"

Despite being informed last night (post below) that my lack of interest in the details of politics makes me akin to the Unabomber, I know, absolutely for sure, that watching movies from around the world, as I do (sometimes), is one of the best ways for Americans like me to learn about people who insist on calling soccer "football."
Which is to say, the entire rest of the world.

Further, for people like me who prefer stories to political details, films are a way to come to care about people I will never meet in places I will never go (probably).
What better political education is there than that?

So, with recent events in Iran, I got thinking about the people and the stories I know from there.
The Iranian film Offside (2006), for instance--it's an amusing little movie telling a simple story about a group of young Iranian women who try to sneak in to watch their national team in a World Cup game, against the rules barring women. But it's also a thought provoking, big movie about the the complex ways we humans trip ourselves up, politically and socially.
Here, I'll just copy the synopsis from the above Pars Times link:
"Many Iranian girls love soccer as much as their countrymen and sport fans all over the world but, they are prevented by law from attending live soccer matches in their country. Inspired by the day when his own daughter was refused entry to a soccer stadium in Iran, Jafar Panahi’s OFFSIDE follows a day in the life of a group of Iranian girls attempting to watch their team’s World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain at the stadium in Tehran."
What impressed me most was the way the film director shows that the male soldiers who have to guard the caught women are sympathetic to them--they pretty much think it's stupid, too, that the women can't watch the game. It's hard to imagine, from here, what everyday relations are like between the sexes in Iran--like, in what manner do women and men who don't know each other talk to each other?--and this movie gives you a glimpse. It's pretty recognizable, maybe not surprisingly.

And, in the spirit of international cultural exchange, if you are one of those people who think a football is round, you can learn about the prolate spheroid kind (egg-shaped, with pointed ends) and the men who run with it in their arms in this movie, Brian's Song (1971), pretty much the only American football movie I remember watching. It's on the Best Football Movies list.
In fact, it's #3!
I cried when I saw it.
I was ten.

That's James Caan of Silent Running and Billy Dee Williams of Star Wars, yes indeed.

OMG! Heaven Can Wait (1978) is on the list too. It's #48. I forgot it involves football. I thought it was a theological exploration of identity. And it is. But, right, Warren Beatty's character is a football player. Dyan Cannon and Charles Grodin steal the show, I think, as the wife and her lover who want to kill Beatty off.

Uh, so, yeah... that's all I have to say about football.

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