Not Without my Daughter came out in 1991, from what I've read, and I think it was a few years after that when I was still doing my degree that I watched it with a friend or couple at his home on VHS! I'm referring to the movie not the book. The movie is based on the book of the same name written by an American woman who was held in Iran against her will. American movie were rarely shown in theaters or on TV but this one was different. This movie was banned for showing a cruel and wild image of Iranian society, after the revolution and at the early years of Iran-Iraq War. I remember that the movie's quality was very poor at the time and that was because it had probably been copied several times from different formats and of course my English was not good. So we didn't get much of the story but the images shown, which even now I believe is exaggeration, was ugly and embarrassing!
Even today I wouldn't be able to watch the movie with a foreigner who has never been to Iran! With all the propagation against Iran and its nuclear ambition, no one would believe what I said about the movie! Some of the scenes are truly a joke and a silly but I can understand many of the behaviours that are shown in the movie. The fact that Iran at the time and even to a certain point, now, is a male dominant society, is undeniable. Add on the top of it, the brutal Islamic law which basically deprives women from most of their rights! They might not be, in appearance, as bad as Taliban but they're certainly not much better.
Women still cannot leave the country without first the permission from either their father or husband. They cannot divorce men. They do not have much rights when it comes to what is left from their parents and what they can inherit. They have to cover themselves from head to toe and even when they are together, where men are not present have to do that! If anything goes to the court, women have no chance of getting what they want.
|A very famous picture taken by Alfred Yaghobzadeh during the first years of Iran-Iraq War shows a very young soldier. The young fella later was reported kIA.|
So that's what Betty (Sally Field) learnt after a few months of living in the country and that was when he realized if she doesn't leave soon, she'd be stuck forever. In the meantime I'd like to point at a few things for someone who has recently watched the movie but have never been to the country:
1- Scene 1: Betty and Mahtob (her daughter) get off a cab to walk home and in the background a small herd of sheep and their shepherd is shown! Domesticated animals are never seen in major cities, running around and grazing! You might see them if you go to a small village but never even in a town!
2- Scene 2: Dr. Mahmmody's uncle, who is a Mulla (Islamic clergy with a sort of turban on the head and robe on the shoulders) is their guest for lunch one day. Everyone is sitting on the floor, around a kind of table-cloth which is food is being served (was common at the time). He is a clean-shaven clergy! Shaving is something close to taboo in many Islamic sects, particularly if you're a clergy! You're an idol! You cannot shave your beards!
3- Scene 3: Betty, Dr. Mahmoody and the relatives are going back home from shopping where is sort of police car stops next to them and asks Betty, violently to cover her head. The so-called police/soldiers in the film, who are holding a Kalashnikov Assault Rifle, are all clean shaven! Another gaffe that the Israelis (I believe that's who produces the film) made!
4- Scene 4: The Friday Prayer Scene in University of Tehran is a real joke! Betty is standing in balcony, with a few others and they're looking directly down at the prayers! There's no building, even in the university that you can have that view and I truly don't know what is the reason behind showing something that is not even close to reality!
5- Scene: Betty is sitting in a vehicle, next to someone who is trying to help her to leave the country when a is scene stopping next to the kids who are playing on the street. The kids are loaded to the pick up and the guy says that they are being taken to the front line of Iran-Iraq war! It's true that young soldier were fighting in the war but they were mostly either volunteers or from small villages. I, personally know 4 students who went to war, all my classmates in grade 10 or 11 and 3 of them got killed. I know very well that no one forced them to go. It was their believes which sent them to the fields.
Scenes like that are a lot and there are other scenes worse than that. They constantly show armed soldiers walking up and down the streets! Something you would never see anywhere in the entire country! I think their intention was to show a totalitarian society but their approach were wrong. Iran is not such a better place now. It was the chaos of after the revolution and the war in those years. Now it is the economy, the brutality of the regime and sanctions but I think, or perhaps I should say, I hope, people are awake now. Took them 40 years, yes! forty years to understand that religion is not a way to go with, if they want to manage their country!
(Photo, top: Sally field, as Betty Mahmoody [Nee, Lover], delivers a magnificent performance in the movie)