The Spiteful Story of Soraya

Picture this, your hands are tied behind your back. You are placed in a hole and buried up to your waist or even higher. A crowd of people, (maybe some of them are your relatives) are standing in front on you screaming horrible things at you. Off to the side is a large pile of rocks, some big, some small, some with knife-like points sticking out. Then the barbaric act begins to the delight of the crowd!

Possibly one or two people begin throwing rocks at you as hard as they can. After they are satisfied with the pain they have inflicted on you, everyone in the crowd picks up a rock or two and waits eagerly for the signal. When they get it, everyone begins throwing rocks at you until you are dead.

It might sound very brutal and violent but at the same time it’s true. It took me almost a year and a half to write the review of this movie. Why? Because for me it was difficult to believe the fact that something so brutal can happen and there is actually a provision for stoning an accuse. I won’t deny the fact that it actually made me question the religion. A religion that’s a symbol of braves and big hearts. A religion that teaches you the value of respect and brotherhood, how the hell on earth then that religion could have a provision for stoning on a women? I can bet and say that the Holy Quraan doesn’t have any provision for Stoning anyone, forget women. This is the reason why when I discussed the same with some of my Muslim friends, even they said that in Quraan, it is written that you cannot kill/ harm a single living object on this planet, not even an insect. Those who indulge themselves in this sinful acts are bigger sinners than those who are accused of adulteration or any other act.

Anyway, coming back to the film, in a world of secrecy, corruption and injustice, a single courageous voice can tell a true story that changes everything. This is what lies at the heart of the emotionally charged experience of The Stoning of Soraya M. based on an incredible true story, this powerful tale of a village’s persecution of an innocent woman becomes both a daring act of witness and a compelling parable about mob rule. Who will join forces with the plot against her, who will surrender to the mob, and who will dare to stand up for what is right. It is both a classic fable of good and evil and an inspiring tribute to those who are fighting against injustice all around the world.

The Stoning of Soraya M. is a film, inspired from the Paris-based journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s acclaimed international best-seller of the same name which, rife with intrigue and moral outrage, first brought global attention to the real Soraya, who in 1986 was buried to her waist in her hometown square and stoned to death by her fellow villagers. The story focuses on a lady named Soraya, who is married to a tyrant of a man named Ali. He beats her, cheats on her with prostitutes, turned her two sons against her and now he wants to divorce her so he can marry a 14-year old. Ali is willing to leave Soraya their house, their land and their two daughters, but he does not want to pay her any support. Soraya refuses Ali’s “offer”.

Enraged, Ali blackmails the village mullah, a religious leader, into helping him find a way to get rid of Soraya. Shortly there after, Soraya agrees to help a village man named Hashem around his home after his wife has died. Ali sees this as his chance to break free from Soraya and he quickly takes action. He accuses Soraya of committing adultery with Hashem. After a quick trial, with little evidence, lead by the village’s weakling of a mayor, Soraya is found guilty and sentenced to death by stoning.

Zahra pleads and tries to save her niece’s life, but in a country where men have all the rights and women have none, she is powerless to stop this heinous form of punishment.

The next day, when Zahra learns that a journalist is in the village having his car repaired, she sees this as her opportunity to let the world know what awful event took place there.  She quietly sets up a secret meeting with Freidoune, the journalist, and tells him Soraya’s dreadful story.

The Stoning of Soraya M. has some outstanding performances by its cast. Your heart breaks for Soraya because she is the innocent victim of this vile atrocity and that heartache is due to Mozhan Marno’s terrific acting. She is so real and natural.

The mullah and Ali are two of the most heartless characters you will see in cinema. Their total disregard for others will make you loath them. Navid Negahban and Ali Pourtash are superb.

Shohreh Aghdashloo, an Oscar nominee for her supporting role in 2003’s House of Sand and Fog, is excellent. She blends strength and weakness wonderfully. She effortlessly draws you into this horrifying story as if you’re the journalist and Freidoune is not.

When Soraya is stoned to death, this scene is very difficult to watch. As you watch Soraya be hit by one or two stones then eventually she is bombarded by many, many stones at one time, your stomach will start to turn. The scene stretches on and on to the point that you’ll just want Soraya to die, so you don’t have to witness anymore of this senseless violence. It makes you feel the misery that Soraya must have felt as she died a slow, agonizing death.

Cyrus Nowrasteh does an excellent job of capturing the repulsive brutality of this form of punishment.

The Stoning of Soraya M. is an extremely powerful piece of cinema that demonstrates that the world is in need of serious change.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Linette says:

    Hey Rounak,

    Yet again brilliantly written. Had never heard of this movie but wanna watch it now.


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