Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Is Islam correct? Is the Bible corrupted? Answer
Why should Christians love Muslims? Answer
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As a Christian woman, how can I develop friendships with Muslim women? Answer
How does the Qur’an compare to the Book of Genesis on the great events of history (Creation, Fall, Flood and confusion of languages)? Answer
“The Man in White” is being seen in dreams and visions by thousands of Muslims today. Read and post true stories about how God is working today in the Muslim world to bring them into “full submission” to God through the message Isa al Masih brings… www.IsaalMasih.net
|Featuring:||Sally Field … Betty Mahmoody
Alfred Molina … Moody
Sheila Rosenthal … Mahtob
Roshan Seth … Houssein
Sarah Badel … Nicole
Mony Rey … Ameh Bozorg
Georges Corraface … Mohsen
Mary Nell Santacroce … Grandma
Ed Grady … Grandpa
See all »
Harry J. Ufland … producer
Mary Jane Ufland … producer
Anthony Waye … associate producer
|Distributor:||MGM/UA Distribution Company|
“In 1984, Betty Mahmoody’s husband took his wife and daughter to meet his family in Iran. He swore they would be safe. They would be happy. They would be free to leave. He lied.”
This dramatization of Betty Mahmoody’s struggle to escape Iran with her daughter is very worthwhile. The two lead actors are both capable of everything from comedy to intense drama, and the producers spent the money needed to create a realistic Middle East location shoot.
As the film opens in 1984, Betty (Sally Field) is happily married to “Moody,” an Iranian-American physician, and living in Michigan with him and their young daughter Mahtob (Sheila Rosenthal). Moody (Alfred Molina, “Maverick”, “Species”), who has been in the U.S. for 20 years, seems thoroughly Americanized and not a particularly strong Muslim; he even appears to drink alcohol. But he’s harassed at work by anti-Arab employees, including some of the other physicians; and his family in Iran is pressuring him to return for a visit. He finally consents and, also, talks Betty into the trip, swearing to her on the Koran that they’ll only be there for two weeks and there’ll be no danger.
Once home, Moody is further pressured by his strict Muslim family to stay there and to rededicate himself to Islam. He undergoes a rapid transformation, tells Betty that they’re not leaving and that Mahtob will be raised a Muslim, becomes violent, and virtually imprisons Betty. The rest of the film deals with her plight and her various schemes to escape the country. The presumably Farsi dialogue is not subtitled, which gives the non-Iranian viewer some of the same sense of isolation that Betty feels. Betty (presumably a Christian) prays repeatedly with Mahtob that the Lord will let them leave Iran. Eventually she befriends a sympathetic shopkeeper, Hamid (Sasson Gabai—“Rambo 3”), who puts her in touch with an underground movement dedicated to helping women like her to escape Iran. When Moody orders her to go back to the U.S. by herself, liquidate their assets and send/wire the cash to him before returning, she basically replies with the film’s title. He knows that if she takes Mahtob, he’ll never see either of them again. She knows that if she goes alone, he’ll probably divorce her in absentia and SHE’LL never see Mahtob again. Both parents want what they believe is best for their daughter. But thanks to their mixed marriage, they have irreconcilable views on what is best.
There are only a few profanities (in English), uttered by both Moody and Betty in emotional moments. There are several instances of physical violence by Moody against Betty, triggered by his (correct) assumption that she’s plotting to escape. The only sexual content is a non-explicit attempted rape of Betty by one of her “escape guides,” which is quickly halted by the chief guide. There are instances of bombs being dropped in residential areas of Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war, and threats against Betty from armed “purity patrols” because she sometimes fails to wear her Muslim garb properly. Female viewers will be especially affected by Betty’s predicament as Moody vacillates between devoted husband and Muslim fundamentalist.
Obviously, this film is somewhat anti-Muslim in tone. But if Betty’s story is true, and there are others like her still held against their will, then that story is worth telling.
Younger viewers may be confused by the references to the U.S. backing Iraq in a war against Iran. When Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini forced Shah Reza Pahlavi out of office in 1979 and transformed Iran into a fundamentalist Muslim state, there was bad blood between Iran and the United States. Iran held American hostages for over a year and ignored all of President Carter’s efforts to free them, but finally let them go at almost the very moment President Reagan was sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981. The U.S., the world’s largest arms dealer, did indeed supply Iraq with weapons in the 1980s. Later, in the Reagan administration, the U.S. secretly began supplying military spare parts to Iran (and using the profits to secretly fund anti-communist guerillas in Nicaragua) while distancing itself from (and in 1991 going to war against) Iraq, so that our relative friendliness to the two countries was now reversed. As of this writing (2000), that’s still the case.