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“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie

Still from “Damascus Time.”

‘Damascus Time’ is an exceptional story that takes place in current, war-ravaged Syria. A humanitarian flight, taking besieged people from the city of Palmyra to Damascus, piloted by an Iranian father and son, is hijacked by ISIS prisoners on board. What follows is a tragic story, demonstrating the barbaric cruelty of ISIS, and that organization’s equally barbaric perversion of Islam.

Although there are terrifying scenes of the carnage of war sprinkled throughout the movie, they help to set the scene, but the story is far more than a war story; it has many levels that are extremely timely today. The sometimes complicated relationship between fathers and sons, the deeply-felt need to respond to the call of duty, and the concept of sacrificing for the greater good are all interwoven in this story.

The viewer sees the fanaticism of ISIS members, who believe they are sent by God to establish a society molded after their perverse interpretation of Islam. Their irrationality is on full display throughout much of the movie.

The fear that innocent people suffer in any war is realistically portrayed, far beyond the sanitized versions that are so often a product of Hollywood. Blood, violent death and desperation all bring the viewer into the reality of war, to the extent possible for someone not directly involved.

Above all, the heroism that is sometimes demonstrated when ordinary people answer the call to accomplish extraordinary things is a defining feature of this movie.

Evidence today is far more than sufficient to indicate that the United States has supported ISIS in various parts of the world. Its motivation in doing so seems to be ultimately to protect Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, which is currently threatened by Iran’s growing power and influence.

While any individual or small group may take any religion and twist its teaching to serve some perverse goal – witness how the Christian ‘right’ glorifies money and war, and condemns such ‘evils’ as health care  – without someone financing them, they will remain a small minority without power or influence. However, backed by the wealth of the U.S., any group can become powerful, as is witnessed by the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria. Yet with the assistance of Iran and Russia, ISIS is losing ground in Syria, even as the U.S. bombs that nation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that was more likely done by U.S. – financed ISIS than the Syrian government.

‘Damascus Time’ shows what it is that the U.S. has wrought. Innocent men, women and children are suffering and dying because of the U.S.’s bizarre geopolitical goals, and there seems to be no end in sight to U.S. financing of such terrorism.

This viewer was quickly drawn in to the movie, caring about the main characters, wanting and hoping for the best for them. The rivalries between different factions of ISIS, and the unspeakable cruelty common to all of them, was brought home for him repeatedly throughout the move.

Yet it was the main character, the Iranian pilot, that drew him in most of all; a devoted husband and father-to-be, dedicated to his wife but also to assisting the suffering people in Syria, Ali could be the gentleman next door who finds himself in a unique but extremely risky position, unable to turn his back on people who needed him.

It is hoped that in the United States, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will recognize the astounding greatness of this movie, and give it its highest honor, the Academy Award for Best Picture.  That, of course, will depend on how the political wind is blowing when the nominees are selected, but this is a movie that will stay with this viewer for a long time. He hopes that it will be widely viewed, especially within the United States.

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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