In the spirit of Purim, Asghar Farhadi, director of “The Separation”, which one an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Film” at this year’s, has reached out to by Joseph Cedar, the director of ‘Footnote’, a film dealing with the rivalry between a father and son, both Talmud scholars at Hebrew University, which was also nominated for the Oscar with a proposition to jointly direct a musical version of the Biblical Book of Esther.
The plot is a version of the perenial theme of Jewish History, that in every generation someone tries to destroy the Jewish people and God saves them.
The proposed joint Israeli – Iranian movie will be filmed on location in Jerusalem, Israel, and in Shushan, Iran, and will feature a lively soundtrack.
Madonna, also known by her Cabbalistic name, Esther, the world’s top-selling female recording artist of all time will play the Jewish heroine by the same name. She will perform remixes of many of her hits, including “Like a Virgin” for the beauty contest, “Papa Don’t Preach“, to be sung to Mordechai when he tries to persuade her to intervene before Ahasuerus, the king of Persia. She will sing “Like a Prayer” before going unbidden before the King, where she will sing “Open Your Heart“, and then “Hung Up” during the scene where Haman and his sons are sent to the gallows.
Dana International wanted to star as a queen, but was then cast as a eunuch.
There are rumours that in a cameo appearance, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will play the Persian king and the Ayatollah Khamenei will play Haman.
Nothing is without politics though. The Ultra-Orthodox parties believe that Mordechai should be played by a black coated sage. The oriental Jewish party want Rav Ovadia Yosef to play the part, and the secular parties feel that Mordechai should be played as a court-Jew, more a sort of Greville Janner or Henry Kissinger type of character. The ever-young, Shimon Peres has also been approached.
The controversy has sparked an intellectual property debate, with the ultra-Orthodox believing that they have copyright on the Bible and a monopoly on derivative works. Not only are they unhappy with the choice of actor for Mordechai, but also feel that Esther should be played by someone more Jewish and more modest than Madonna.