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New Pro-Regime Film Gets Iranians Hot Under The Collar

A composite photo shows the official poster for a new pro-government Iranian film, "The Golden Collars," and a doctored version circulating on the Internet that features President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
Although much of Iran's recent cinematic output has had international critics drooling with delight, it seems unlikely that Abolqasem Talebi's big-budget "The Golden Collars" will make much of a splash among the world's cinephiles.

While Western audiences have been lapping up Ashgar Farhadi's Oscar-winning "A Separation" and Jafar Panahi's compelling "This Is Not A Film," they are unlikely to be moved by the slightly less nuanced "The Golden Collars," which has allegedly been the top box-office hit in Iran since its release on March 21.

With its makers proudly claiming the movie to be "the most political film in Iran’s cinematic history," Talebi's slick-looking blockbuster seems to spare no expense in outlining the Tehran government's take on the abortive Green Movement that gripped the country following the disputed presidential election in 2009.

WATCH: The official trailer for the Iranian film "The Golden Collars" (in Persian)

"The Golden Collars" looks at the wave of popular protest that swept through Iran after the reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad as president, which left scores of people dead when it was brutally suppressed by the authorities.

Unlike common interpretations of those events, which saw the security crackdown as an effort by Iran's ruling elite to suppress all democratic dissent in the country, Talebi's movie posits the idea that the whole thing was a fiendish plot cooked up by British spies intent on destroying the Islamic republic.

According to "The Golden Collars," these nefarious traitors incite the green-clad supporters of President Ahmadinejad's rival, Mir Hossein Musavi, to go on the rampage when he loses the election.

Just when it seems like this furious mob might threaten to destabilize the country, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' motorbike militia rides in like the cavalry to save the day.

Although the movie has all the hallmarks of crowd-pleasing epic production, it is a matter of debate whether this pro-regime vehicle has proved a hit with Iranian audiences.

Official news sources say "The Golden Collars" has taken in more than $12 million since it was released a few weeks ago, but reports that other estimates indicate that the film has fared far worse at the box office.

Even if the movie has been as big a success as some claim, however, it has been suggested that crowds may be flocking to see it for reasons that may not please the Iranian authorities.

"It’s unusual to show a political film. That’s why people are watching it," one viewer told "The Economist," before adding that he thought the movie was "a misfire."

"All it does is get everyone talking again about what a fraud the 2009 elections were," he said.

The Persian web community also seems to have given the movie a big thumbs down. At the time of this writing, a Facebook page calling for a boycott of "The Golden Collars" had been "liked" by nearly 7,000 people while another more favorable rival page dedicated to the movie had garnered only a tiny fraction of that number.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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