September 26, 2005

Red Mercury and the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 10:37 pm in Elgin Marbles

A new independently produced film (read as – probably not in a cinema near you unless you live in a big city) called Red Mercury contains references to the Elgin Marbles. Part of the film is set in a Greek restaurant in London where diners are held hostage by a group of Islamic terrorists. When the hostage takers make their demands to the police outside, the restaurant owner adds that the Elgin Marbles should return to Greece.

The Christian Century

Red Mercury, a British picture directed by Roy Battersby, stands a better chance of making it to American screens, especially since it features Stockard Channing (the president’s wife on The West Wing) in a delightful portrait of a Greek restaurant owner, complete with accent. The film was made and released in Britain before the recent bombings there, but its narrative is prescient. Three educated, British-born Muslim men (none from the Middle East) are part of a cell in London that’s preparing a “dirty bomb” to use in blackmailing British authorities and forcing them to leave Iraq and to make other concessions toward the world’s Muslims.

When their hideaway is discovered, the three dash into Penelope’s restaurant and decide to hold her, the staff and the diners hostage while they complete assembly of the bomb. As they work, the hostages and the three men, Asif, Shahid and Mushtaq, debate the treatment of Muslims in the world and particularly in Britain. They also eat some of Penelope’s Greek cooking. Outside, the British police discover that the three hostage takers are all from established immigrant families. Inside, the hostage takers draw up their demands (Penelope helpfully adds a demand that the Elgin Marbles, which the British took from Greece, be returned). The film’s outcome is gripping and insightful.

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