25 May 2005 | jmical
If You Can See It, See It!
First, I need to thank the Seattle International Film Festival for locating a copy of this movie and screening it. They went to enormous lengths to make sure a few hundred Americans saw The Lizard, but it was worth it.
The film focuses on Reza "The Lizard," a robber doing time in a prison run by a warden who plans to make him go on a "diet for the soul," so that Reza can enter heaven. Reza has obviously had some negative experiences with religion in the past, and this doesn't do anything to change his view. When he sees an opportunity to escape by dressing as a Mullah, Reza, fearless of the religious implications, takes it. Hilarity ensues.
He ends up in a small town where he must pose as the new leader of their mosque. In so doing, Reza is given a unique opportunity: to create a religion built not on the hypocrisy of others and all the negative things he sees other religious people doing, but one that truly represents the positive possibilities of his faith.
I am firmly agnostic and my study of religion is and always has been one born of curiosity rather than personal belief. This movie was inspiring and moving in a way that few others are, not only for its eventual embracement of the good aspects of all faiths but as a simple parable that religion is unique to each person rather than a reflection of the negativity of some of its practitioners.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this movie will ever be on DVD, and except for the one copy screened at SIFF 2005 it will probably never make it outside of Iran (where it was banned for being sacrilegious). If you ever get an opportunity to see The Lizard, don't pass it up.