Wednesday, July 08, 2009
I don't cry at movies. I have sat through some of the most heartbreaking stories and walked out to the amazement of those in my company with eyes as dry as the desert. On Wednesday, I cried. No, I wept. I was watching The Stoning of Soraya M, a movie based on a true story written by the Paris based journalist Freidoun Sahebjan. It did not matter that the story was set in 1980s Iran; with each word spoken, each action made and finally, with each stone thrown, I felt I was watching a scarily possible scenario in my home country of Nigeria.
Zahrah, played by the gorgeous and timeless Shoreh Agdashloo is the powerful voice of conscience in this story. She must brave the controlling zealot mob, the corrupt justice system of a religiously regulated village to tell the story of her how her niece Soraya, played by Mozhan Marn, accused of adultery by her mean-spirited, divorce seeking husband was buried up to her waist in her bridal whites and stoned to death by a mob of males ranging from the very little to the very old. Taking her story under perilous circumstances out of the village and to the rest of the world is the character writer played by Jim Caviezel.
In one of the most defining moments of the film, the village mayor says to the weeping and bewildered Soraya,
"According to our laws, when a husband accuses a woman of adultery, she must prove her innocence....subsequently, when a wife accuses her husband of adultery, she must prove his guilt."
To which, Zahrah retorts, "...So all women are guilty?"
The movie's ending is as harrowing to watch as it is spectacular. The filmmaker in me, applauds the techniques and execution and the woman that I am weeps. Soraya, is me. She is you. She is every woman. It does not matter the society, western or non-western, when a woman is accused, she is stoned. Sometimes, it is with rocks, words, fists, loss of opportunity, abuse of her basic rights, abuse of her person, abuse of her mind. She does not have to do anything major, she just has to be a woman.
I had to wait a couple days to write about the movie because it so broke my heart. What would I do in the same situation? What could I do? What should I do?
I think I will for now, till I can do much better, do what Zahrah did. Speak up against any injustice. It is written somewhere that "An unjust law is no law at all"...and there are many many unjust laws.