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Cinema in Focus: ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’

This timeless love story is multifaceted and intriguing

3 Stars — Thought-provoking

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a timeless love story. Using motifs of biblical and mythical themes, director Mike Newell and writers Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard understand the art of cinematic storytelling. Their tale is multifaceted and intriguing, full of love, betrayal, bravery, ambition and evil, with a supernatural basis. In the end, it is love and loyalty that win the day while evil is stopped by supernatural means.

Based on a story by Jordan Mechner, the central character is a courageous orphan who catches the eye of the King of Persia as he protects his friend. Adopting Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) as his son and therefore making him a prince of the Persian empire, King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) already has two biological sons who are destined for the throne. A good and wise King, Sharaman hopes to give his oldest son, Tus (Richard Coyle), the support of his brothers Dastan and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell), to provide counsel and courage to his reign.

This plan is based in part on King Sharaman’s experience of the support of his own brother, Nizam (Ben Kingsley), who had saved his life when they were boys. But this proves to play out a central theme of both loyalty and betrayal.

The love story begins when Tus and his brothers attack the holy city of Alamut. The city is ruled by the beautiful princess and guardian of its secrets Tamina (Gemma Arterton). What is not known is that the thousand-year secret has been betrayed and the city’s tremendous spiritual power is in danger of being used by evil. But destiny brings Dastan and Tamina together to attempt to stop such a catastrophic result.

Two other characters in the story who add some comic relief as well as reveal the ability of humans to rise to a noble level are the cunning Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina) and the deadly Seso (Steve Toussaint). Understanding what is at stake, these two are willing to do whatever is necessary.

The underlying messages of Prince of Persia are true: love is more powerful than evil; selfish ambition can destroy us all; and trust and mercy are necessary for relationships as well as national security. Those are lessons we need to understand for the sake of us all.


» The Persian Empire was the largest in the ancient world, lasting from 550 to 300 B.C. This portrayal brings many modern concepts introduced into the language of the king and his princes. Do you believe that makes for a better story or a weaker one?

» The love that Prince Dastan and Princess Tamina create must now be re-created. Do you believe two people would fall in love twice? Why or why not?

» When betrayal comes from within a family, it feels especially evil. Have you ever been betrayed by a family member? How did it affect you? Were you able to heal from it?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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