Sunday, July 20, 2014

Women in Exile

I recently watched the fascinating documentary The Queen and I (2008), about two Iranian women in exile: the the former queen, Farah Pahlavi (below, right), and Nahid Persson Sarvestani (below, left), who made the film.

In 1978-79, then-17-year-old Sarvestani took part in the revolution that forced the queen and shah of Iran to flee. She, a communist, had hoped for a democratic Iran but she, too, had to flee the theocracy that followed instead.

What's so fascinating is, first, that Pahlavi would even agree to talk to a former enemy, and, second, how much the women connect on a personal level. 

Sarvestani frets on film about how she is pulling her punches because she has come to like Farah, who does come across as a class act.  
I can imagine some people might want more harsh criticism of the shah's regime. It's more interesting to me, however, to watch the women connect as individuals who have lost their homeland to a common enemy and have lost loved ones too.

Sarvestani's brother was hung by the ayatollah's regime, and it seems Pahlavi's daughter never stabilized after leaving Iran when she was nine, and she died of a barbiturate overdose after years of anorexia.
Former queen of Iran Farah Pahlavi: For me, the interesting thing about this documentary is that two people in different positions and with different political ideas can talk to each other...  maybe we became closer. 
We have to think about Iran's tomorrow ... I always believe that light will win over darkness.
 –– interview on Radio Free Europe

A couple years after the film was released, "although he struggled for years to overcome his sorrow," in 2011 Pahlavi's second son shot himself to death. 


deanna said...

Wow. I hope to watch that someday.

My speed this week has been Pride & Prejudice (the A&E version, which I'd never seen). I needed something, not the romance, but the way Jane Austen captured how people are.

Fresca said...

Ah, the one where Colin Firth takes a dip in his white linen shirt... I remember that well! :)