Ever since it was first published in 1954-1955, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings has been embroiled in politics, much to the dismay of its author. Proponents of the political left and the right have taken turns deriding or laying claim to the fantasy epic. Peter Jackson's film adapation didn't escape political scrutiny either. Time magazine's Richard Corliss did a rather famous review of The Two Towers claiming that the film now evoked the War On Terror, and that Saruman looked "eerily" like Osama bin Laden, and USA Today'sMichael Medved insisted Viggo Mortensen had tainted the role of Aragorn because he openly declared his anti-war sentiments.
The latest political controversy that the series finds itself embroiled in is the Iranian electoral protests. Time has a piece from an anonymous Iranian resident reporting that the government is using film to try and quell public unrest. "In normal times, Iranian television usually treats its viewers to one or two Hollywood or European movie nights a week. But these are not normal times, so it's been two or three such movies a day. It's part of the push to keep people at home and off the streets, to keep us busy, to get us out of the regime's hair. The message is 'Don't worry, be happy.'"
All television channels in Iran are owned by the state, so the government is choosing its films very carefully. One of their offerings has been a Lord of the Ringsmarathon, ostensibly picked because its length and epic content will keep people glued to their television. "We're glued to the trilogy. We are riveted. A child in the room loudly predicts that Lord of the Rings will put an end to the nightly shouts, that people will not take to the rooftops and windows because this film will keep them occupied."