Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Logline Central - The General Staff

Logline Central is an irregular segment that takes a deeper look at loglines of scripts or projects that have just been purchased, as listed on DoneDealPro.

This week, I want to take a look at a featured logline, not because it sounds like it will lead to a particularly good movie, but because it's one hell of an interesting acquisition.

Title: The General Staff 
Logline: Set in 1979, "cowardly" U.S. diplomats are treated with kindness and eventually delivered to safety by their Iranian hosts. 
Writer: Ataollah Salmanian 
Prod. Co: Arts Bureau  
More: Ataollah Salmanian will direct. The film is being produced by the Iranian government in response to "Argo."

A government-funded response to another nation's fictionalized account of a thirty-year old event. Wow. I wonder how often that has happened before (and plead ignorant on the history of such occurrences). 

What are the implications of the film? (Note that I care very little about the actual content in this case; it is very clearly propaganda, which isn't how I interpreted Argo, but perhaps that bears a closer look.) Is the tone anti-American? Will it portray a wildly different version of the 1979 events, depicting Americans as the antagonists? I reserve no judgment on that, or on whether or not "we" were "bad guys" in that case. Politically, what does the film mean?

Am I ignorant of Argo's implications? I wasn't aware it was a statement that required or even prompted a response. Certainly not of this variety. And, perhaps more importantly, what does the Arts Bureau seek to gain by making such a picture? From a business point of view, the hypothetical Hollywood mogul in our Logline Central posts can question whether this film would ever be picked up for distribution, receive awards consideration, or otherwise make its investment back. On a more intellectual, less financially-driven level, I'd ask - who will see the film? It strikes me that it is made for Iranian audiences to address perceived gross misrepresentations and inaccuracies in an American movie. But will it ever reach beyond the country's borders?

I can't deny that there's a small part of me, a jocular, albeit maybe fractionally optimistic part, that wonders if The General Staff is indicative of something larger, a new paradigm in international relations. Could this be the new way countries wage war? Not a cold war, but a Celluloid War. Propaganda films replace guns, and theaters replace battlefields. We address our disagreements not through bloodshed, but with esoterically re-written histories. Sure, Iran's history in this case would vary greatly from the way we in the States perceive it, but doesn't it already? Dialogue between nations would crumble if every response is delivered in the time it takes to absorb a film and develop and produce a feature film in response, but the body count would drop considerably. And, frankly, can anyone claim that the dialogue that exists now is really any stronger? Maybe the fight of the films is the new way we should go in modern warfare. It would certainly be more civilized.

Or maybe that's just another far fetched, out of touch with reality film idea.