Friday, September 17, 2004

The Music Box

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One of the advantages of living under a religious dictatorship is watching a lot of Laurel and Hardy, since many of their movies have nothing ‘unethical’ according to the strict moral codes of the Islamic regime.
Watching those movies helps you recognize a stairway in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, when you walk through Vendome Street near the intersection of Del Monte. This is the stairway used in the Laurel & Hardy movie, The Music Box, in 1931.
Excited from seeing the real stairway, you walk up its 133 steps like a pilgrim visiting a shrine. It is like paying homage to an unseen friend who has brought smiles to your face many times during your teenage years. The years one couldn’t see anything but death on the Iranian TV.
The stairway’s meaning for you goes beyond the meaning of the Laurel & Hardy movie. Your experience of the movie includes the daily news of the Iran-Iraq war ‘martyrs,’ the dreadful face of Khomeini, and all the propaganda shown before and after the movie.
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Keeping a smile on your face back then was like holding that music box and taking it up to the top of the stairway. In the years the majority of the population didn’t have the illegal item called VCR, and the only movie you could watch on TV was shown once a week (on Friday afternoons), watching the Sisyphus type of work Laurel and Hardy performed in The Music Box made you think of your own life, made you laugh at it, and made that life bearable in its unusual way.
Coming down from the stairway you think all these might be the reason you never forget the stairway.

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- You can see parts of the movie here: 1, 2.
- A picture of the satairway can be seen here.

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