Body of Lies is simply a big lie

Leonardo DiCaprio as Agent Ferris in Body of Lies
As you might guess from the title, I was not a big fan of the film Body of Lies and I regret watching it on our fifth wedding anniversary, of all times! The reason I wanted to see it was because of its depiction of the Jordanian intelligence services as well as the fact that it takes place in Jordan.

What really annoyed me about the whole charade was the director’s decision to film in Morocco and pretend it is Jordan. Who did Ridley Scott think he was fooling when he made the decision to film in Morocco and digitally insert the King Abdallah mosque in a number of shots in an attempt to make it look like Jordan? Did he expect Jordanians or people that visited the country not to notice? Or did he just not care? In addition to the fake scenery, all the extras in the movie looked North African rather than Jordanian. And in more than one instance I noticed Saudi car tags in the streets of "Jordan."

Then there was the scene where Russell Crowe is surprised that DiCaprio wants to stay in Jordan. He asks him something along the lines of "Why? Do you want to eat couscous all day?" I mean, give me a break! Jordanians don’t eat couscous. He should have said Mansaf if anything. Anyway, I’m surprised a movie so centered on Jordan with such a big budget did not employ some cultural consultants or film there. The actor who played the head of Jordanian intelligence was okay but I got irritated by his fake accent. As for the Arabic spoken during the movie, please don’t get me started. It was a mélange of North African, Egyptian, Palestinian and I don’t know what.

In a nutshell, the movie was not worth my money, especially in economic times like these. My advice: Don’t watch it.

20 Comments

  1. kinzi October 20, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Not only do Jordanians not EAT ‘couscous’, they have an aversion to even saying the word, mish?

    I just can’t stomach films with Italian/Arabic accents anymore.

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  2. Stephen October 20, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Typical hollywood ignorance, nothing new.

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  3. Anon October 24, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    It’s a movie, not a documentary. Movies are for entertainment, which calls for you to suspend your own reality and enter the movie’s reality. Surely, you don’t expect the setting and props used in all the other movies you’ve seen before are accurate? They never are. You can, understandably, expect accuracy in documentaries, but not in movies. Fakery is a given in the movie industry, no?

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  4. To October 29, 2008 at 8:41 am

    It’s true, I don’t expect everything to be 100% accurate, but the least I expect is some accuracy that only requires minimal research a 10 year old child can do.

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  5. Mike November 1, 2008 at 3:03 am

    It had good continuity and pacing, but after that I was glad that I didn’t have to go through what a Jordanian would have in that. I get a small bit of that irritation in too many movies where they don’t bother to shoot for, at least, similar landscapes.

    In one old western flick, as only one example, Liberty, Texas was surrounded by mountains, when in fact, that little town is in the Piney Woods of the otherwise flat East Texas. The list is a long one with the movies and way out of it backgrounds, etc.

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  6. Hussein M. November 3, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Am in Jordan, I wana eat couscous all day : )

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  7. Uncle Al November 3, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    I remember “Cheyenne Autumn” – one of the great John Ford’s last directorial efforts. He used Navaho Native Americans instead of Cheyenne actors. I’ve read, probably in one of Tony Hillerman’s fine mysteries, that the Navaho actors spoke in their native tongue and made rude remarks and jokes about the non-Navaho actors they were working with! When the movie played on the rez, it ran forever! No one fluent in Navaho missed seeing and hearing those inside jokes no white-eyes could fathom.

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  8. Therese November 9, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    I fully agree with your review of this film. Your comments might save some people from trying to watch it. I went to see it, but – quite aside from being so fake and having dreadful politics – it was such a TEDIOUS film. I left before the end, which I hardly ever do.

    Why is it that cous-cous is the mark of a fake Arab production?

    I wrote a critical review of the honor-killing memoir, “Burned Alive”, by Souad. This book took over from “Forbidden Love”, but it is another fabrication. (See my article “Burning Questions” for a short review of some of the author’s notable lies.) The author of “Burned Alive” claims to be a Palestinian, and describes how she went to a wedding on the West Bank and they served – cous-cous. Of course. It is the only dish mentioned.

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  9. kinzi November 17, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Therese, maybe it is just Jordan, but it sounds like a slang term for female genitalia. :O They eat the grain, but it has a different name.

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  10. Garm November 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    I’m more curious about what you guys think about the messages in the movie about Jordan and how accurate those are more than I am about the sets and actors

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  11. Ali January 3, 2009 at 10:39 am

    What you said is correct, I watched it in Dubai, I was in vacation there and what a wast of time?! In the cinema, my friend and I were the only Jordanians and i can swear we were the only Arabs, People in the theatre were really annoyed by us as we kept laughing the whole hour and a half. But after all I have to wonder, why would the Americans make a movie that shows them as idiots and an Arab intelligence is stronger and more organized?

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  12. Chazz January 10, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Who cares? It’s a movie, besides the guy might like eating Couscous all day. I know it’s not Morocco, but Couscous is available in Jordan.

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  13. Chazz January 30, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Hani, why the negativity? Are movies from where you came from considered smart?
    Your comment does not represent a good cultured opinion. People from our side and your side try to close the gap between America and the Arabs, and people like you stand in the way.

    Reply
  14. jalal February 2, 2009 at 7:41 am

    I agree. I wasn’t impressed with the film at all.

    but let me give you a note:
    the film was shot in morooco.

    and i hate that part showing us as backword people .
    at least we know our roots and we are proud of jordan and our intilegance dept too.

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  15. Hareega March 24, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Blog again, blog

    Reply
  16. stephen Skinner April 28, 2009 at 9:46 am

    as a non- arab it is really interesting to get a perspective of the movie from a Jordanian…I can really appreciate the issues you have for the show…

    I liked the movie as I would any good action movie…I am sorry to say I have no real feel for the cultural / lingual inacurracies but I agree w/ you – big buget and big stars they should have put in more realism / accuracies and to be sensitive the audiance that may be from that part of the world…which they should have known would watch the show ..

    it is probably more a reflection of the typical American lack of understanding of that part of the world than a intensional snub

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  17. NoNo May 4, 2009 at 2:19 am

    Where are you Natasha we miss ur blog

    Reply
  18. Mark Richards May 22, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    I can understand your indignation. Not only for the glaring inconsistencies in your language, culture, cuisine and physical misrepresentations of Jordanians; I didn’t like the film because as an American it appeared to me as liberal dogma attempting to show all American intelligence agencies as manipulative, dishonest, and exploitive to our allies.

    Reply

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