Writers: Betty Mahmoody (book), William Hoffer (book), David W. Rintels
Sally Field as Betty Mahmoody
Alfred Molina as Moody
Sheila Rosenthal as Mahtob
(This summary includes political observations mostly from the book. The movie leaves out many dramatic beats that help to understand the story's meaning and moral premise.)
NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER is the true story of Betty, an the American-Christian wife of the Americanized and trained Iranian doctor, Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody, D.O. (Moody), who was born-in-and raised in a strict Islamic family in Iran. Betty and Moody lived in Corpus Christi, TX and later Alpena, MI, where Moody was an anesthesiologist. They met when he treated her for back pain. When the American backed Shah of Iran (the last of 2,500 years of Persian monarchs) was deposed, allowing the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979 (and the rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran), many Iranians longed to go back to Iran. The idea of a strict Islamic state (where men ruled with impunity -- a family level terrorism) is very attractive, in a demonic way, to the male ego. Moody was one of them, and in the process of re-embracing his Islamic heritage, also embraced the Islamic revolution's anti-American ideology.
|Virgins waiting in paradise for Islamic fundamentalist men.|
|MOODY by Alfred Molina|
Why would Moody (an American trained doctor) stay in a culture that seems to have jumped backwards 1,000 years in terms of hygiene, medicine, science, human rights, freedoms, and basic knowledge about the human condition? Several reasons. (1) It's revealed that his political activities in the U.S. have resulted in his termination from two jobs, in two states, and two different hospital systems -- further resulting in the loss of his Green Card.
[Some may see this as racism here in the U.S. or cultural prejudice. But prejudice is an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand without knowledge, thought, or reason. And there is reason to not trust an overtly active, anti-American doctor, treating American patients, in the American Hospital system, like Moody.]
|BETTY by Sally Fields|
Betty conscience tells her to return to America. When he finally allows her return he refuses to led their daughter, Mahtob, go back with Betty, insisting that Betty (under the pretense of attending her Father's funeral), sell their extended American assets (homes and checking accounts) and send the money to Moody in Iran. Moody is desperate for money because his license to practice medicine in Iran has not been approved due to his American training. Nothing from America has any value to the government. And so, with some-half-efforts on the part of her female Iranian friends (who love intrigue, which is brought on by their suppression), Betty is determined to escape from Iran. But the obstacles to taking her daughter with her seem insurmountable.
BOOK vs MOVIE
|MAHTOB by Sheila Rosenthal|
THE MORAL PREMISE
Throughout the book, Betty reiterates that her father brought her up to believe: Where there's a will, there's a way. This engenders in Betty, a perseverance in the midst of persecution, that allows her achievement of the goal -- getting out of Iran with her daughter. And the odds and obstacles for the unlikely, common hero are immense -- natural structure for a successful movie.
Thus, this becomes the story's moral-physical premise statement (where "conscience" is understood as the natural, organic, true-to-natural law sense of right and wrong):
Suppression of the conscience leads to tyranny; but
Preservation of the conscience leads to freedom.
or stated with words from Betty's father:
Suppression of an individuals will leads to tyranny; butPreservation of an individual's will leads to freedom.
The paradox of all this occurs when one individual's will has the goal of suppressing another person's individual will.
|Book Jacket: Mahtob and Betty|
It reinforces what I write at the end of The Moral Premise:
Vanquish Fear, Bestow Hope