Saturday, August 02, 2003

Sinbad the (Greek?!?!?!) Sailor

Al-Muhajabah posts about the Dreamworks version of Sinbad the Sailor in which he is no longer an Arab, but a Greek. Written by Star Trek: Nemesis and Gladiator scribe John Logan, the story is no longer about a hard-working Arab merchant sailing the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, but a Greek adventurer in the Mediterranean. All references to Arab culture have been systematically replaced with Greek mythology. I don't follow entertainment news that closely, and so had missed that little detail of production.

To me, this is kind of frustrating: I've been peddling medieval Arabic legend and culture to people for years, and now its most recognizable hero has been Hellenized. This also removes an excuse to talk about my dissertation: Sinbad was traditionally an Arab sailor of the tribe of Azd, and today there is a street named for him in the Omani city of Suhar, which in the 10th century was the largest on the Persian Gulf. I also find it simply stupid. The success of films like The Lord of the Rings shows that an audience can handle a completely new world, and an Arab Sinbad movie would just have to explain basics like "caliph" before launching into the action without the need for epic backstory and everything.


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