Filed under: The Known world
This is one of those films where the message matters more than the acting, the cinematography, or even the script. However I have to say Joel Ransom’s cinematography is ruggedly beautiful rather than just rugged & John Debney’s musical score arrives just in time to hammer home the content. This film is about woman’s rights, cruel and unusual punishment, and religion.
I watched this film and was very moved by the plight of Soraya Manutchehri, especially with the flimsy way the so called evidence was presented against her. I am a Muslim, and I know what Shariah law is and its implementation; I’ll give some feedback on the actual film before I go into that.
The film was very well made, very strong and gritty characters, although it was a little two dimensional in its character development. The men in the village were all portrayed as cowards or just plain ignorant, except Ali, who was just a tyrant. the women too, other than Soraya and her aunt, were typecast gossips or wailing old women. However I haven’t read the book, so maybe thats the effect the author was going for.
The stoning was particularly disturbing, I watched it a few times by forwarding through it before I built up the nerve to actually watch it right through. Zahra’s final appeal for her niece Soraya was very heart-wrenching. This is something I would never stand by and watch, let alone comply with.
Now to move further afield, most of the comments I tend to read about this movie instantly seem to accuse Islam and Sharia of being the culprits in this woman’s death. In reality, Islam killed Soraya no more than Atheism killed the victims of Soviet Russia.
For a woman to be accused, and convicted in a Sharia court, requires 4 witnesses, which clearly wasn’t the case here. In addition, the man would also be convicted of extra marital sex, and stoned too. If this had happened, obviously there would have been no case here because Ali’s cousin; Hasheem would have backed out completely. And of course, the Mullah who was convicted of child molestation would have been executed long before he rose to the pulpit.
Violence against women is not an Islamic or an Arab phenomenon. It happens everywhere, from Kathmandu to New York, from Paris to Seoul. It happens because of ignorant people, men and women (there are many instances of wife beating by mother in laws and others). In this case, Soraya was killed because Ali didn’t want to return her Dowry, which he would have to, should he marry again.
The only defense against corruption of law is the integrity and honesty of the people appointed to uphold it. If they are corrupted, there is no defense other than the voice of the people.
This film shows how religious hypocrites sometimes use religion against humanity for their own evil purposes. It also portrays the evil of gossip, of greed, of lust, & of not standing up for what is right. The thing I loved most about the film is the subtle ways in which it tried to portray Islam in its beauty and MAN in his weakness and fears. I agree the movie is really wonderful and it begs to give life to the women oppressed around the world.
I do hope in the near future that problems with woman’s rights, cruel and unusual punishments & religion will be alleviated.
The Stoning of Soraya M; a gut wrenching film, but highly recommended.
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