Thursday, July 29, 2010

“Yet Baghdad Is”

Jaws was never my scene
And I don’t like Star Wars

quoted in Imagine Space Cheerleaders

“I did not think any place
could be more beautiful
than Chandra, yet Baghdad is.”

Princess Parisa
, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

I am not going to do a “Star Wars” post, but I am going to do this post.

Throughout most of history, people in the West regarded the Middle East as a land of romance and adventure.

It is only in the last two or three generations—generations defined by a global oil economy—that the Middle East has become defined in the mind of the West by hatred and suspicion and endless total war.


Everyone remembers the scene in Star Wars when Luke and Leia are stuck on one side of the abyss — the abyss on a space station [!?] — and Luke fires up a line and the two swing across to safety. That was in 1977.

Back in 1958 [1958!] the extraordinary filmmaker Ray Harryhausen made a film called, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

When Sinbad finally rescues his beloved fiancée Princess Parisa from the supervillain Sokurah, an evil magician, the only path out of Sokurah’s lair is along a stone bridge across an abyss. Sokurah uses his magic to destroy the stone bridge just before Sinbad and Parisa can cross it.

Parisa summons the genie from the magic lamp Sokurah is after and the genie tosses a magic rope into the air above the abyss. Sinbad and Parisa swing to safety.

The hero and his beloved princess pause for a moment. Even though they may need the magic lamp to continue their escape, Princess Parisa tells Sinbad she promised the genie she would free him if she could. And the fires at the bottom of the abyss are the only way to destroy the magic lamp. “If we lose his help now we may never reach the ship alive. Still, your promise must be kept,” Sinbad says. Princess Parisa nods, and they throw the lamp into the abyss.

Sinbad was a very cool hero. Princess Parisa was a very cool princess.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is a very cool adventure story.

And yet Baghdad is.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“A Concept That I Felt Was Right”

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