12 May 2013

Rostam in Wonderland

About this cartoon from Pouya Afshar on Muftah.org:

“Rostam in Wonderland” is an animated series based on Rostam, the mythical hero of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings), and his experiences in 21st century Iran. The Shahnameh is part of the canon of classical Iranian literature, written in the 10th/11th century by Ferdowsi, one of Iran’s most renowned poets.

“Rostam in Wonderland” profiles Rostam’s encounters with a world completely different from his own. In every episode, Rostam learns something new about modern Iranian culture and other issues of everyday life in present day Iran.

Throughout the series, Rostam is forced to reconcile his own traditions and experiences with cultural complications, technological advances, and the new ideologies permeating Iranian life. Each episode is unique, highlighting everything from social customs to simple complications experienced by every day Iranians.

“Rostam in Wonderland” is anything but a political project. Its sole propose is to critique and identify routine social issues and challenges faced by Iranians in Iran. It aims to bring the critical social concerns that exist in the Iranian subconscious and are a part of our national identity to the surface, and to create a humorous narrative that can serve as constructive criticism of these phenomena.

Rostam has not been randomly chosen as the protagonist of this series. Rather, Rostam and his life in ’Rostam in Wonderland’ serve as a satirical tool to critique modern Iranian culture and unveil taboos that may not be visible to all Iranians.

As most Iranians know, Ferdowsi did not invent the characters appearing in the ‘Shahnameh,’ but rather inherited almost all his stories and characters from the mythical tales of his predecessors.

Ferdowsi chose Rostam as his mighty hero and sole ‘pahlevan,’ (strong man) who stands apart from many other characters in the book. Rostam was not, however, a perfect character. In addition to his positive qualities, he had many flaws and idiosyncrasies.

Nevertheless, Ferdowsi chose Rostam as his main protagonist over other more flawless characters, such as ‘Garshasp.’ By placing Rostam at the center of his epic work, Ferdowsi shows us that a hero, a ‘pahlevan’, is someone who learns from his mistakes—not one who lacks them.

Similarly, the Rostam of “Rostam in Wonderland” is a character that represents every Iranian with their flaws and strengths. Each Iranian can be Rostam, a ‘pahlevan.’

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