18 October 2006

DVD Review - The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam

It's a shame this indie movie didn't get more critical acclaim. Most of the major reviews seem intent on bashing the movie for what it lacks instead of concentrating on its numerous positives. Directed, produced, and written by Iranian-American Kayvan Mashayekh, the film tells the story of a present day descendant of the Persian poet/mathematician Omar Khayyam who is determined to keep the oral tradition of his Persian ancestors alive by telling the tale of how his 11th century ancestor Omar ended up being the legendary man we remember today.

The film jumps back and forth between the present day storyteller and the past as we watch events unfold from Omar's childhood through his rise to Seljuk Sultan appointed astronomer/mathematician/poet of Persia. Woven into his story is Omar's long relationship with a slave girl, speculated to be the inspiration for his poetry. Filmed almost entirely on location in Samarkand and Bukhara, Uzbekistan, I was more than willing to overlook occasional directorial clumsiness to immerse myself in a rarely glimpsed view of Persian history and culture.

For a Persian/Byzantine history buff, the scenery and costuming were worth the price of the DVD alone. Throw in the nifty commentary by the director, another by an authority on Omar Khayyam, and a haunting musical score, and I am ecstatic. I found this DVD at Wal-Mart- sometimes big box stores do good. I don't know how this independent film slipped under my radar, it is the type of movie I usually seek out in my quest for a satisfying cinematic experience. One of the drawbacks of living in a rural area is the lack of theaters playing indie films. Now I wonder what other gems I missed this past year. Any good period films hiding out there that you've seen? Let me know.


KC Heath said...

Ooo, this sounds good! Thanks for the tip. I don't shop for DVD's, as my head is always at a computer or outside somewhere, but I'll tell my hubby to keep a look out for this one when he's shopping [that is, if he wants to get me in the mood --ha!] This movie will get me in the mood? --grin

Constance said...

Sorry, this movie is pretty tame by today's standards. But it does have a love story as the backdrop. Being poet and interested in history- Persian, Byzantine, etc, this was great for me. YMMV. :)