Sunday, April 8, 2012

on Clash of the Titans: Djinn, suicide bombers, and mythmixing

I like to unwind with a mindless action movie now and then. So perhaps I shouldn't think too hard about Clash of the Titans. But several things struck me while watching it. The first was the mixing of myth, bringing in the Kraken from Scandinavian eddas and the the djinn from Semitic/Islamnic mythology. Though anachronistic and post-modern, I suppose this is in a way inclusive or at least artistic, maybe to be expected in a movie called Clash of the Titans that has no titans in it.

Most interesting to me is the prominent role of the djinn Sheikh Sulieman who accompanies Perseus on his kraken slaying adventure. Djinn are pre-Islamic but appear many times in the Koran where they are described as "fire free from smoke." The movie depicts the djinn as generally middle eastern. They dress in robes and live in the desert. The head djinn is named Sulieman, Solomon in Arabic and the name of several great leaders of the Ottoman Empire. 

The movie's stereotyping didn't turn my head much until Sheikh Sulieman suicide bombs an enemy, sacrificing himself for the greater good. To have an arabesque figure suicide bomb is quite the stereotype, too easy in the present climate, an echo of the nightly news. Oddly, the movie depicts this act as heroic.

*A side note - suicide bombing was popularized by the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka not Arab Islamist. 

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