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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gyllenhaal + Persia = logical

Those of you who already have a copy of Swedes at War know that the first Swedish war participants of the world war era were the Swedes in Persia. The new Disney action-adventure Prince of Persia opens, like Swedes at War, with a mini-lesson about the former size and might of Persia.

After that factual opening the movie enters into a spectacular tale (it has a touch of Star Wars) that has less to do with Persia´s (i.e. Iran´s) actual history. But, hey, Prince of Persia is not being touted as a documentary. Still, I reckon that if you love history you are extra likely to enjoy PoP. What´s more it contains some witty references to recent war history. My favourite is probably when the assassin squad hunting for my American relative is defined as a "secret government killing activity".

I hugely enjoyed watching Prince of Persia and thank Jake and Disney for making it easier to operate with a weird family name like ours:



Some years ago it was so bad that I would even call myself Larson, Ericson or whatever when ordering tables at restaurants. It was such a time-consuming ritual to try to communicate our family name. Thanks to Jake and Maggie life is a bit easier for us now.

Of course, outside Sweden the spelling, and even more the pronounciation, is still a challenge - as the above video demonstrates. Jake knows very well, though, that that is not the original pronounciation - I suppose he was inspired to say what he did from having watched the Swedish chef in the Muppet Show.

It seems film reviewers didn´t quite expect Jake to fit so well into the role of a warrior prince. Well, considering his Royal Swedish blood + blue British blood (could that explain the realistic British accent? Nah, just kidding) and the long connection between Gyllenhaals and various wars (Jake´s own grandfather survived at the tip of Patton´s spearhead) it is perhaps not that surprising. The first half of our name is actually a reward for service in the Thirty Years´ War.

P.S.
Pretty ironic that the baddest bad guy of PoP, the leader of the Hassansins (the elite assassins, better known as Hashshashin) like Jake IRL is a Viking. In fact, he is more Viking than Jake, as he is from Iceland, the most Viking place there is nowadays. His name is Gisli Örn Gardarsson. And speaking of örn, which means eagle, Alamut, the fabulous fortress that is central to the movie, is Persian for "Eagle´s Nest".

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