Wednesday, May 25, 2011

There are better ways to die

The Stoning of Soraya MThe Stoning of Soraya MThe Stoning of Soraya M

If you’re having one of those days where nothing is going right (flat tire, dog vomited on couch, relatives coming to visit), you should look on the bright side …  

At least one of your daily activities doesn’t include getting stoned to death by an angry mob which includes some of your family members. 

The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on a true story and is one of the most excruciating movie experiences I’ve had in recent memory.  Soraya was a woman who lived in a remote Iraninan village and had the very unfortunate situation of being married to a man who wanted to marry another woman.  When Soraya starts working at another man’s house because his wife recently passed away, Soraya’s husband accuses her of being unfaithful which conveniently (for him) carries the death penalty under Islamic Sharia law.  

I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that there is a stoning scene.  If you’re watching a movie called The Stoning of Soraya M., you should expect that at least a few stones are going to be tossed around.  What I didn’t expect is that the stoning scene would last as long as it did and it almost made me physically sick.   Like death in slow motion, the scene was so real and agonizing that you just wish someone would have pulled out a gun and blown her head off. 

And I mean that in the kindest possible way. 

With the type of subject matter that it is, this movie is clearly not for all tastes but if you can stomach the final twenty minutes, it will baffle you to think that this form of execution can still exist in the 21st century.   And it isn’t just for convicted serial killers; people who commit adultery or homosexual acts can be brutally tortured and killed by this method if you are living in certain Islamic states.  Even the lawyers who try to DEFEND the accused are subject to death penalties.  If you visit the website, an Iranian lawyer has currently four death penalties against him for trying to save the life of a defendant Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who faces death by stoning. 

What the hell?  These people are not human.  They are monsters.  Don’t they realize that spending time in an Iraninan jail is probably torture enough? 

After watching a movie like this, I like to read the reviews and while most of them were good, I was shocked to read a few that said that the movie was “Islamophobic” and “melodramatic”.  First of all, saying the movie was Islamophobic is like saying that a movie about the Holocaust is Hitlerphobic.  If there is something in your religion (even in the fine print) that says that it’s just fine and dandy to stone someone to death, then maybe you should consider switching to a more benevolent prophet.  And accusing the movie of being melodramatic is like accusing someone of crying at their mother’s funeral.  In fact, Soraya was a portrait of restraint; despite the immediacy and inevitability of her painful death, she barely shed a tear. 

In terms of the moviemaking, the acting was uniformly great and Shohreh Aghdashloo as the heroic aunt should have been nominated for an Academy Award.  The only misstep in my opinion was an attempt at some final conflict when a car wouldn’t start at the very end of the movie.  No doubt it is a shocking movie and very well made.  I strongly recommend its viewing.  

And here is the book on which the movie is based.  

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