“The Stoning of Soraya M.” Out on DVD

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.


Following on the heels of the recent International Women’s Day comes the  DVD release of the remarkable and unforgettable film The Stoning of Soraya M. Based on the true story of a woman falsely accused of infidelity and stoned to death for it under Iran’s post-Islamic Revolution Khomeini regime, Soraya stands as condemnation of a barbaric punishment that, astoundingly, continues there today.

Soraya justifiably made numerous critics’ top ten 2009 film lists (including those of NRB’s David Swindle and Chris Yogerst - and reviewed here by Yogerst) and racked up a raft of awards, including, most recently, the NAACP Image Award for Best Foreign Motion Picture. And now it is becoming an underground hit and an inspiration in a country on the verge of a new revolution.

Not that this has inspired a feminist change of heart among Iran’s Islamofascist authorities. In ironic and brazen confirmation of their contempt for women’s rights, they have prevented Simin Behbahani, a prominent female poet and activist known as “the lioness of Iran“, from traveling to Paris to attend an event celebrating International Women’s Day.

Despite illness and advanced age (she is in her 80s), Behbahani nonetheless felt compelled to go to Paris because:

my passion and commitment to my country’s women… pushed me to take part in this ceremony to read a poem and talk about feminism.

Unfortunately for her and her country’s women, the clerics in Iran have a tad more passion and commitment to raging misogyny than to poetry and open discussions of feminism – a misogyny they justify by claiming that Iranian women are treated better and more respected than their Western counterparts, who are all reduced to being prostitutes, Hooters waitresses, or extras on Entourage.

Except that the Iranian authorities don’t so much place women on a pedestal as they do bury them in a pit and pulverize them with stones, like Soraya M., or rape and execute them to punish dissent, or haul them into jail for indecent Western hairstyles. I doubt that even the most under-tipped Hooters employee would want to trade in her Western sexual oppression for that kind of respect.

So don’t count on Iran making International Women’s Day a national holiday, as it is in such feminist Shangri-Las as China and Russia, anytime soon. For the time being, The Stoning of Soraya M. sits on Iran’s banned films list, and Ms. Behbahani sits on Iran’s no-fly-to-feminist-conferences list. But both stand, in their own way, as proud testaments against an Islamic regime that bears a positively medieval hatred toward women.

Click here to purchase “The Stoning of Soraya M.” now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/talkinhorse TalkinHorse

    I saw "The Stoning of Soraya M." in its theatrical release. As much as I really wanted to like this film, I couldn't. Yes, the world needs to be aware of the evil and oppression that is all too common in that part of the world. But the film simply isn't good drama. The story is too simplistic, and the characters are mere stereotypes. It tells the tale but it doesn't make me *care*, because it fails to make me *believe* in the people. Yes, such people exist, and they're historically interesting and politically interesting but not dramatically interesting. I applaud the effort, but I lament that the presentation doesn't have the impact I would have hoped for. Maybe this would have worked more effectively in the hands of a better dramatist, or perhaps as a documentary.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

      Respectfully I disagree. My experience of the film was different. I thought the characters were well developed enough for me to care about them. I also liked the cinematography and the arid, brown palette of the village. It virtually suggested the dusty austerity of its fundamentalist Islam.

  • Guest

    The truth of the matter is a woman in Iran had no rights, her life didnt matter, and she was stoned to death. I dont know if you've ever been hit with a rock, one rock hurts. Dying due to numerous stones hitting your upper torso and face would obviously be painful. This film isnt out there for you to like. It's to let you know that "that" is what happened, and it was wrong. Even without the film, lacking compassion on a basic human level – how does one respond to that?

    I just watched the movie. And the stupidity of the people involved in creating a fabricated story, because someone doesnt want to be married anymore or do the right thing, that it resulted in an unnecessary, just crazy barbaric nonsense, it's…shocking. If you took away the dialogue, the music, and just watched a silent film, it's still shocking.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

    I finally got a chance to see this elusive yet well publicized title. I was already aware of the controversy associated with its theme, the story of an Iranian Shiite woman and her primitive punishment for alleged adultery in a small Persian village. I am a member of an organization that promotes the pc-free understanding of Islamic Jihad and its contemporary worldview, so I had already heard lots of pros and cons about the film. Among the cognoscenti many thought it drew on apocryphal sources or that it was an exaggerated tale at best. But that doesn’t matter. More important was the question: did it accurately depict Shiria Law and its well documented medieval practices? I am convinced that it did. It was a very powerful movie. I could not completely watch the actual namesake scene. Additionally, I expected a sort of docu-drama but it was nothing like that. I began to comprehend how these unforgiving people, only a few generations removed from tribal societies, had evolved such austere and arid Islamic practices. I was left emotionally drained by the experience and I recommend it with this caveat. Be prepared. You are unlikely to remain unaffected if you watch it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

    Stow that infantile nonsense! This is serious business. We need only American adults to show up.

    • SARA

      SAD TO SAY UR VERY RACES FOR SAYING THAT IM AMERICAN CITIZEN THAT WAS BORN HERE BUT MY NATIONALITY IS NOT AND I WAS GROWN UP IN DIFFERENT COUNTRY

      • Lary9

        What?

  • USMCSniper

    It is our killer instincts which must be harnessed if we expect to survive in a war with the Jihadists. Our weapons are only tools. It is a hard heart that kills. If our killer instincts are not clean and strong we will hesitate at the moment of truth. We will not kill. We will become dead Americans. And then you will be in a world of shit. Because there are a billion Muslims and on a few of us who will fight! Do you understand?

  • Denise

    When it comes to the Muslim and non-Muslim world and their differences something has to give. At some point we will almost be forced to make a confrontation and a choice.Will we accept that we have to protest the atrocities of Islam or pretend it is not our problem also ? As far as I am concerned one woman's abuse is my abuse too.

    I agree that we must be prepared to fight for what we know is right. Trouble is , young men have nothing but scorn for combat nowaday – -the "patriot " esp. is harder and harder to find –they are becoming an endangered species….USMCSniper–!

  • SARA

    I'M MUSLIM GIRL THAT JUST SAW THIS MOVIE. SAD TO SAY THIS THINGS DO HAPPEN AND THEY PUT IT AS BEING THE RULE OF MUSLIMS, BUT EVEN THOUGH I DON'T ACCEPT ANY OF THE RULES REGARDING STONING, BUT THE RULES ARE DIFFERENT FOR EXAMPLE THEY HAVE TO LET THE GIRL TO TRY GETTING OUT AND IF SHE DOES SHE IS FREE TO GO, AND ALSO THEY ARE ONLY ALLOW TO USE SMALL STONE LIKE HALF INCH STONE NOT THAT BIG, BUT UNFORTUNATELY IN IRAN BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE RULING IN THERE THEY MAKE THERE OWN RULES LIKE THEY DID IN THIS MOVIE SO YES IT IS SAD AND VERY UNFAIR, AND ALSO THEY MADE THIS MOVIE OF THE TRUE STORY. VERY SAD :((((

  • acramer

    This movie is honest and true to its nature. Human rights!! We as American women freedom in all aspects of our lives. Which our government does not rule over. In nations where women have no freedom or voice they are simply ignored, beaten, abused. This movie is just one example of lack of human rights. There was another incident that involved a 13 year old girl who ganged raped by 3 men. She told the local authorities what had happened to her. The local authorities in turn arrested her and charged her as a whore. She was stoned to death. The men recieved no punishment for their acts. SO I SAY WHERE IS THE JUSTICE!!

  • kez

    Can anyone tell me for sure whether this movie is an American film or not. Was it financed and produced from out of the States?