Sunday, September 30, 2007

Zero Degree Turn: Episode 5

Habib is one of 3 Iranian men studying philosophy in Paris. One is sympathetic, a nice guy, and a good friend. The other is the son of an intelligence official, pro-Nazi, and very nosey.

Habib takes a job at the embassy in order to pay his tuition. It turns out that Mr. Jahangir is the ambassador (did not quite get that from earlier episodes). You will remember him as the husband of the former fiance of the detective and the recipient of a letter from Habib's brother-in-law. His wife approaches Habib at the embassy and tells him that she has a message for the detective: "Tell him the house sitter is dependable," she says. (You might remember that her house was being used by the Jewish conspirators who murdered the Tehrani rabbi.)

Mr. J is pleased about the coming war.

After work, Habib delivers his third letter: the one from the rabbi. He arrives at the home of a Jewish man who opens the letter to discover the news of his murdered friend.

As he is discussing the letter, Sarah (the Jewish student who Habib has been sparring with in philosophy class) enters. "My niece," the man introduces. She is short with Habib. "Forgive me, I do not know your Europe," Habib says. Sarah leaves the room.

Her uncle explains that Sarah's father was killed on Kristallnacht (The night of knives is what they say in Persian, but I think Kristallnacht was meant. Anyone have any ideas?).

In his new role as embassy staff member, Habib finds himself at a party thrown by the German ambassador. Mr. J wonders what he is doing there. Mrs. J tells him that she invited him. She walks over to Habib. "I wish the politicians would talk to women before starting wars, then there would be none." Habib respectfully disagrees.

He sees two classmates at the party: a German boy and a French girl who are dating. It turns out that his uncle works for the Germany embassy.

Off to philosophy class where Sarah and Habib are officially reconciled: "I thought all Iranians took Hitler's side," Sarah explains to Habib. They chat, flirt... Habib teaches her an Iranian children's game. The other students laugh at them. "You should be ashamed of yourself," the pro-Nazi Iranian says.

At home, Sarah urges her mother to eat. "Night is the worst time," her mother says. "It's then that I miss your father the most." Her uncle is disturbed. He tells her that Russia and Germany signed a treaty and that Poland has been invaded. "I worry about the Jews in occupied countries," he tells his niece.

In the embassy, the German ambassador meets with Mr. J. "Iran is not taking sides: why not?"

At the university, we learn from the German classmate that Germans must leave France. They are now considered enemies. He urges his French girlfriend to leave with him. She refuses. They break up. In class, they are confronted by the terminally optimistic Habib who makees a speech that brings them back together to the joy of the class.

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