Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Zero Degree Turn: Episodes 3 & 4

Continuing series of summaries of the Iranian mini series about a young Iranian man's experiences in Paris during World War 2. For episodes 1 & 2, click here.

At the start of episode 3, the colonel gives the detective just 48 hours to solve the mystery of the house where the conspirators were found. As soon as the detective is out the door to get started, he receives a phone call from the foreign ministry directing him to keep the investigation open.

Pro-German son-in-law is back from his business trip, which means that daughter Parsa (Saeedeh) will be returning home to her husband. Mother Parsa tries to hint at her son-in-law’s inability to have children. She asks her daughter if she has ever considered the possibility of adopting. “I really want a child of my own flesh and blood,” the daughter answers dismissively.

Boy Parsa (Habib) still does not know that he has not received an exit visa. There are so many secrets in the family.

Cut to the synagogue where the rabbi is quoting Einstein’s reservations about the creation of a Jewish state. Here is the English quote: "Oppressive nationalism must be conquered ... I can see a future for Palestine only on the basis of peaceful cooperation between the two peoples who are at home in the country ... come together they must in spite of all." (John J. Simon, "Albert Einstein, Radical: A Political Profile," Monthly Review May 2005, Questia, 25 Sept. 2007 )

Dr. Parsa finally lets his son know that the exit visas for him and his friend have not been approved. Of course Habib is very disappointed.

Following up on the mystery of the conspirators, the detective follows a group of conspirators identified by a witness. A bout of diarrhea prevents his new, temporary partner from accompanying him on the chase, so he is alone.

He follows them to a secret meeting and overhears a discussion of how the murder has increased the Iranian Jewish emigration to Palestine. One of the men is the escaped thug from the first bloody encounter with the conspirators at the house of the detective’s former fiancé.

The detective foolishly presents himself to the conspirators and has them line up against the wall. The thug smugly says, “You cannot change anything.” We see him raise his finger and then masked men leap out with guns raised and pointed at the detective. A shot rings out. Is the detective dead? No! It’s the thug.

The masked men usher the detective into a car, drive him to a wooded area, and beat him a bit. In a car already parked in the wooded area is -- you guessed it -- the colonel!

“I’m happy to see you,” the colonel says.

The detective accuses him of the murder of both the thug and the imprisoned conspirator. “They knew too much,” the colonel responds.

The colonel tells him of unseen forces that control events. “So what if some Jewish anarchists unintentionally do their work?” The colonel hints that secrets are kept even from the shah. “People in the background are more powerful than we are.”

The colonel wants to involve the detective. In return for his cooperation, he will allow Habib Parsa to study in France.

Cut to the hospital. Wails, mourning, the partner of the detective is dead. The detective wanders aimlessly, beaten and bloody. Mother Parsa, who we have learned is Palestinian, tells him, “We did everything we could.” He says, “Tell Dr. Parsa not to worry about his son’s exit visa.”

Episode 4

Happy Habib learns that he can go. Some in the family attribute it to the work of the son-in-law who has a lot of connections in government, of course. The rabbi comes to say goodbye as does the pitiful friend who will stay behind.

The rabbi gives Habib a letter to take. The son-in-law also hands him a letter. Habib leans into his sister and beseeches her to be nicer to her husband. We wonder, is she really in love with the “pitiful friend”?

His father hands Habib a letter to deliver in Paris. “He went through a lot to get you your visa,” he says. At the station, the detective shows up to see the young Parsa off.

And now we are in Paris with Habib and the others who are hoping to gain acceptance to the University. They spend the summer visiting tourist spots. Only three of them pass the language course and are accepted into the University. Habib is one of the three.

We see them in philosophy class where earnest Habib finds himself in a kind of debate with the Jewish student Sarah.

An Iranian attaché lets Habib know that there will be no scholarship for him because of the actions of his father.

Later in the episode, Habib delivers two of the letters. The one from his brother-in-law is for Homoyun Jahangir who is busy entertaining diplomats while his wife plays the piano. Where did we see his wife before? In the memory of the detective! She is the detective’s former fiancé.

Habib delivers the letter to HJ. The wife comes in. They are introduced. His assistant comes in, “The German ambassador has just arrived.” HJ excuses himself and returns to the party. The wife turns to leave as well. “Actually, I have a letter for you as well.” It’s from the detective. “Do not tell anyone about this letter,” the wife says.

At home, in a corner, she reads the letter. “I cannot trust anyone,” the detective writes. “We had love and passion, but because of your betrayal, I lost it all.” His ring is in the envelope.

Wife & husband fight. She tells him that she put up with everything: even boring diplomatic parties, but there is no way that she will have a child.

Back to philosophy class…where Sarah and Habib seem to be flirting a bit through a discussion of Islam and the kabala. Habib challenges the primacy of Greek philosophy, GASP.

There is some argument, not sure what… “If it were not for Cyrus the Great, there would be no Jews in the world,” one of the Iranian students says.

“Don’t worry, your fascist associates will take care of the rest,” Sarah responds.

There is bit of racist arguing and Sarah excuses herself from the class.

Back to the wife of HJ who is looking at the torn photograph of her and the detective during happier days,

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