With a perfect mix of action, comedy, drama, suspense, and adventure–the Shahnameh and A Thousand and One Nights-inspired Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, delivers!

The characters are built fast and smart. So don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with the video-game, you’ll have no problem understanding the connections and dynamics of the characters, or the plot in general.

The story follows Dastan, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, and his quest for returning the sand-fueled/activated dagger that falls into his hands, back to its rightful owner. Otherwise, if the dagger is stolen–which it is–and used by evil forces/people, the result can mean; the destruction of everything.

Gyllenhaal brings a mystical yet relatable energy to his Persian character and continues to shine in our new official favorite blockbuster movie for 2010, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Gyllenhaal, whom we’ve added to our growing list of “honorary-Persians”–which already includes Fardin lookalike, George Clooney–is a force amongst his peers: He’s hot and talented! (Maybe he’s got some kind of Persian blood in his ancestry? That would certainly explain things. We keed. We keed.)

“I know I wanted to get the character across in a lot of the action, so I know I wanted to do it myself,” Jake said in an interview with Regis and Kelly this morning about doing the French-origin acrobatic “free-running” moves known as: Parkour/Parcours, (sometimes also abbreviated to PC), or l’art du déplacement (English: the art of displacement).

“It’s about getting from point A to B,” says the newbie traceur. “They’ll jump from building to building–it’s amazing.”

Jake, having “pumped up” because “[they] had a lot of stunts to do,” jokingly shared with the hosts of Live with Regis and Kelly that instead of hitting the weights, he “just prayed a lot.”

Well…His prayers were answered: After watching the film at a screening last night, we can safely vouch for the crisp and cool actor as he shares his video-game-based Persian Prince aesthetic with us on the big-screen.

Of course, director Mike Newell also majorly contributes with his sharp cinematic skills. Newell manages to keep you partly-unhinged from your seat throughout the movie as you feel the action take you away, back in time, to…not quite Persia/Iran…but parts of the Persian Empire–which stretched from “all of what is now Iran” to Asia; as far as the Indus River, Greece, and North Africa including what is now Egypt and Libya.

So, don’t get all “Oh no they didn’t” when you see the majority of extras not looking all pretty and Perr-zhie. Bear in mind the above, and focus on the main “Persian” characters; Dastan (Gyllenhaal), Prince Tus (Richard Coyle), Prince Garsiv (Toby Kebbell), and King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup). All easy on the eyes. Especially Dastan, whose name “has several meanings.” Says linguist/journalist Ebi Zaman.

“Dastan [read: Dast-on] can mean: 1. tune, song 2. legendary, as in the legendary Rustam [Rustam of legend] رستم دستان  or 3. ruse, stratagem.” He tells us.

What’s the correct translation?

“Number 3 in my opinion is the intended meaning, however, not in the negative. There are  translations of it with positive connotations as well, such as: astute, adroit, clever, brainy, canny, discerning, expert, handy, savvy, resourceful, versatile, etc., I’d use: astute, savvy, adroit, resourceful, or versatile. Take your pick.”

And be prepared Persian audience: Don’t expect to see a lot of authentic Persian-ness in the movie; you won’t hear a word of Persian in the entire film no matter how hard you pay attention. But you will see nods to a few things Persian: Pomegranates, wine, weaponry, some of the gestures of the characters, Tamina’s clothing and shoes (Giveh), some of the jewelry, chariots (highly  prominent in Persian mythology), the concept of taxation (created by Cyrus the Great), and a visible leniency in attitude amongst Persian royalty towards maintaining a strong family-bond.

So, were there any real Persians involved in making Prince of Persia: Sands of Time?

Yes, some girls in a harem scene and the score-writers are Iranian musicians: Amin Mohammad Fouladi, Masoud Abbasi, Mehrdad Azmin, Zartosht Safari, Ali Nourbakhsh, Parham Bahadoran, Ehsan Parvizian, Shohreh Shojaeifard, Babak Babakinejad–which should quench your thirst a bit.

Let’s be honest: We would have really been pleased to see at least one truly Persian/Iranian actor/actress play one of the main roles. (We still believe the super-sexy Sarah Shahi, formerly of the L Word and NBC’s Life, would have been a better casting decision than Gemma Arterton, who plays Tamina–a non-Persian.) However, since The Sands of Time is a trilogy in the video-game story base, the door for a sequel(s) must be wide open…We’ll just keep our fingers (and toes) crossed for the next set of casting sessions.

The good news?

We promise you won’t feel culturally raped and disrespected after watching Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, like you may have after watching the bogus portrayal of the mighty Persian King Xerxes (Persian: Khashayar Shah)–the grandson of Cyrus the Great, a lineage universally-honored and pivotal to human history–as a towering, body-modification-obsessed, and sexually-confused/ambiguous freak (read: not human), in 300 the movie. (That’s right. We’re still not over that spiel yet…We may have begrudgingly forgiven “300” for the sake of moving on, but we won’t forget.)

So listen up Hollywood: Prince of Persia is a move (or movie) in the right direction and we applaud it; Fun-tastic job! You’re onto something here….

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time opens in theaters nationwide this weekend.

About Author

Sanaz Khalaj-Santos

Sanaz is Founder and Editor in Chief of Persianesque Magazine.