This is a review of the recent movie Prince of Persia starring Jake Gyllenhaal, not the video game series. WARNING! There are spoilers, since this is an older movie, but if you want to watch the movie first, go ahead. Then come back and read this. In the light of our current political situation and the country’s economic troubles, I think the desert dwellers’ philosophy is especially worth remembering.
1. Prayer and holy things are treated with respect and there are serious consequences for mistreating them. Even though it’s a religion with false elements, both the princess and the king are shown to be strong and respected leaders because they pray and honor what they believe is holy.
2. Dastan could have been portrayed as a drunk or a womanizer when he was absent from the call to the conference about the proposed attack. But he was instead testing his fighting skills and winning his men’s respect and love by spending time with them and even letting them clean his clock.
3. The princess could have been sold into sexual slavery. Despite the skimpy outfit, she merely became a waitress.
4. The desert dwellers could have been running a bloody arena. Instead they held ostrich races. And by the way, they said they didn’t pay taxes because they didn’t believe they should support a government which wanted to steal all they had and kill them. Simple, sound political wisdom in my book.
5. Time travel worked, for once, and was limited in scope and importance. The evil uncle wanted the dagger for a single purpose Dastan was able to discern. Dastan used the dagger for good reasons, and respected the limitations and dangers once he understood them. He was also willing to risk death and even failure to make things come right, relying on his brother’s character to do the right thing as well.
6. Family love, honor and trust were essential elements of the story. Dastan would never be king, but he never sought his own advancement. He was horrified to think his uncle would throw away a home, a family, and love for selfish ambition.
7. A black man, a minor character, was given a role of extraordinary importance and showed incredibly noble character without making a point of being a black man. I dare anyone to dismiss him as a “magic negro.” He trained and prepared, developing unsurpassed skill and performed a vital service no one else could do.
8. Dastan went right back to the point where he still had to make a choice about doing what was right. The city had fallen, yes, but the important choices were still to be made, the real wrong still to be righted and prevented. And he didn’t even hesitate.
9. The princess had to stop lying and tell the complete truth before she could get the help she needed.
10. The uncle is a Satan figure. He realizes the mistake he made by saving his brother’s life in the past. The devil realizes he a mistake by the death of Christ. Both want to go back and change the past to increase their power.
On the downside,
1. People still have to “trust their feelings” to make fundamental decisions and “search their hearts” instead of the Scriptures.
2. The flood history is indeed butchered again. Especially because Noah wasn’t chosen for his purity but because of God’s grace, and because the “salvation” for the people in the movie was conditional upon future behavior or somebody innocent would have to pay.
3. “Gun control” rules in the sacred city because there are no weapons forges. Peace depends on taking away people’s right to bear arms.
4. The princess confuses sarcasm and feminism with spunk and leadership and tries to lie to get her way.
5. Lots of reasoned deception and “peasant cunning” prevailing over straightforward honesty.
6. “I believe we make our own destiny.” No, we don’t, and frankly the movie proves the opposite point, since Dastan is rewarded for obedience and hard work, loyalty, perseverance and courage in the responses of everyone he interacted with, not for his rebellion against the way things were going.