Stone biopic a big mistake, critics warn Iran's leader

There are few obvious parallels between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the religiously devout Iranian President, and Jim Morrison, the famously hedonistic lead singer of The Doors.

But now the fact that the pair are to share a cinematic bond in the form of biopics directed by Oliver Stone is generating stern disapproval in conservative circles in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad accepted the request earlier this year by the director to make a documentary about him. A bad move, according to one of Iran’s most influential conservative newspapers, which has tried to convince him to reconsider.

Keyhan, which has links to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pointed to Stone’s 1991 movie The Doors to show that he is unsuited to film the Iranian president, whom the paper called “an intellectual and peacemaker”.

The Doors was in commemoration of one of America’s perverted and half-mad singers; someone who urinated on the head of his fans during his concerts and enjoyed doing so,” wrote the article’s author, Elham Rajabpour.

One scene depicts Morrison, who died in 1971, being arrested for alleged indecent exposure during a concert in Miami. The singer denied the charge but was convicted.
Authorities in Florida recently discussed issuing a posthumous pardon.

Former band members criticised aspects of the film as distorting Morrison’s character. Rajabpour argued that Stone would act similarly with Ahmadinejad and invent a false portrayal to serve “Zionist” interests. “Hoping that he refrains from alterations, deliberate manipulations and damaging the honour, power and the interests of the Islamic system is an irreparable mistake which will bring us nothing but regret and remorse,” she wrote.

As evidence, Rajabpour cited Stone’s 2004 historical epic Alexander, about the Macedonian king, Alexander the Great, whom she calls “a hated figure among Iranians”. The film was heavily criticised in Iran for portraying Alexander sympathetically while ignoring his role in the destruction of Persepolis, seat of the Achaemenid dynasty, in 330 BC.

An Ahmadinejad aide announced this week that Stone had requested permission to travel to Iran to discuss the project. The Tehran Times reported that the president had agreed on condition that the director uses only “real scenes” from his life.

How Ahmadinejad and Morrison match up

Born

MA: Garmsar, 1956. Formative years spent in revolution

JM: Florida, 1943. Formative years spent in dissolution

Career highs

MA: Winning presidential elections in 2005

JM: Hello, I Love You makes number one in the US, 1968

Career lows

MA: Presiding over petrol rationing in world’s second-largest oil power

JM: Final chaotic recordings before sudden death in Paris, 1971

Influences

MA: Ayatollah Khomeini; messianic creed of Shia Islam

JM: Nietzsche, Kerouac, Native American myth

Support

MA: 17-million voters

JM: 76-million records sold, one million every year

What they said

MA: “As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map”

JM: “Gate is straight, deep and wide—break on through to the other side”

—Guardian Unlimited Â

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