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The Queen and I (2008)
"Drottningen och jag" (original title)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 462 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 9 critic

Filmmaker and Iranian exile Nahid Persson Sarvestani talks with the widow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the late Shah of Iran, who was overthrown in 1979.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Empress Farah ...
Herself
Nahid Persson ...
Herself
Zinat S. Lloyd ...
Narrator (voice)
Kambiz Atabai ...
Himself
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Storyline

Filmmaker and Iranian exile Nahid Persson Sarvestani talks with the widow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the late Shah of Iran, who was overthrown in 1979.

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Plot Keywords:

exile | widow | shah | iran | crown prince | See All (35) »

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Documentary

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Release Date:

13 February 2009 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

A királynö és én  »

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Quotes

Empress Farah: [beginning to ascend the Cheops Pyramid] I'm going to plead for political asylum with Pharaoh!
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User Reviews

 
A compelling documentary
28 August 2010 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

As I watched this documentary on HBO, I was mesmerized by the conflict between the film-maker, Nahid Persson, and Farah, the former Queen of Iran. Persson, a fighter for the Iranian Revolution of 1979-80, fled to Sweden and is plagued by the misdeeds and tragedy of the regime she helped achieve power. Her regrets include executions, human rights abuses and a death in her own family; yet, she has never forgotten the evils of the monarchy which the current regime replaced.

Onto the stage comes Farah, wife of the late Shah of Iran, who was vilified for her own excesses during a reign that was known for its Westernization of Iran but also the brutal repression and inequality of life for most Iranians. This state of affairs led to social activists and anti-western fascists coming together to overthrow the Shah, who was forced to flee the country with his family. Persson is now a film-maker who wants to confront this exiled Queen.

At first, the Queen is a mass of contradictions. She allows the film-maker to access her personal world and then regrets the whole project. Persson seems like the last person the Queen would ever allow into her sanctum. She seems to want to pose embarrassing questions before the Shah's widow has had a chance to warm up or show a human side to her personality. This is how a more seasoned interviewer would proceed (Katie Couric or Barbara Walters for example). Perhaps Nahid Persson is too personally involved and very soon is bounced from the Queen's life. However, she does not give up on the project and six months later, is back again.

This time, the ex-Queen is more approachable and even willing to see things from the other side - to some extent. No doubt much of this is more astute public relations but she does appear more human and even allows the film-maker to accompany her on a number of personal engagements, including a meeting with a group of Iranian royalists, outings to cafes and art exhibits and even a pilgrimage to the Shah's tomb.

During the course of the film, we see Farah as an elegant and cultured woman who has suffered not just a huge loss of status and prestige but also been isolated from her homeland and been ostracized by many former friends. She has clearly never overcome the shock of the death of a daughter, whose troubled life she attributes to the Shah's downfall. She is lonely and at times her eyes filled with tears. There are compensations for her, particularly her trips to visit her son and grandchildren. She does try to understand the other woman's losses as well and she feels they have both been victims of the current regime in Iran. In the end, the two hug one another and while there is a certain level of compatibility, one cannot imagine them becoming close.

The film evolves in a very compelling way and both seem to become more human figures, less pre-occupied with their own personal struggles. I couldn't take my eyes off this documentary film. It makes for a fascinating and haunting journey that I would love to see again. As someone else so aptly wrote, in the final analysis, we are all human beings.


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