Although first widely shown in early 1980 in New York, The Shah of Iran was completed in 1972 and is narrated by Orson Welles. Transparently a propaganda piece because of the laudatory statements that describe the action pictured in newsreels and archival footage, the documentary focuses on the last Shah in private and in public. Seen with his children, his wives, driving his limousine, swimming, skiing, and greeting European and Soviet political leaders, the Shah is described as benevolent, loving, dedicated to social reform and advancing democracy. He is a mediator and works on land reform, industrialization, and eliminating the last vestiges of corruption in his happy nation. One of the last scenes shows him playing chess with the director of this documentary, Walter Ellaby, as Welles says that "the Shah must make the right moves for Iran." Even though Americans and the world are used to the Disney Studio's animated films, they may not be ready to believe that any national leader is a dead-ringer for Snow White. A few warts and honest history might have served this hagiography better.
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