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Film: Syriana

Syriana is a complex Hyperlink Story film starring and produced by George Clooney, released in 2005.

George Clooney plays an old, fat, burned-out CIA agent in the Middle East. His story is intertwined with that of a worker in Saudi Arabia who gets mixed up in terrorism, that of a prosperous oil consultant who has an emotional crisis and changes his life after a deadly accident, and that of the creation of an oil pipeline. They start separately, but all converge...

This film was based very loosely on a book written by a CIA agent — so loosely that it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It was well-reviewed but only barely broke even at the box office.


Tropes in this film:

  • Arab Oil Sheikh: One of the subplots of Syriana focuses on the conflict between two sons who are the scions of a Gulf ruling family: a well-meaning Internal Reformist and his playboy younger brother.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There's a lot of dialogue in Arabic, none of it is subtitled.
  • Cain and Abel: The two Saudi princes, the younger of which ends up taking over with the help of an American missile strike.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Many of them.
  • Downer Ending
  • Disproportionate Restitution: The prince feels responsible for the death of an associate's child even though the death was clearly an accident and offers him money — around 10 million. Double subverted when the associate is at first insulted for having a price placed on his son's life, then accepts when the prince offers him a career-making deal in apology.
  • Faux Fluency: Several actors had to do this: George Clooney does not speak either Farsi or Arabic, but had to converse in both, and Alexander Siddig, whose character Prince Nasir speaks Arabic almost exclusively for the first half of the film, speaks no Arabic whatsoever- he is of Sudanese extraction but grew up in London.
  • Fingore: Mussawi tears off three of Bob's fingernails as he interrogates him.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: Islam - The idea that man was made in God's image, as mentioned by the teenagers, is strictly Biblical. The video will mentions "ashes to ashes", which is barely Biblical - it's the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
  • Hyperlink Story: Roger Ebert used this film in describing the Trope Namer.
  • Internal Reformist: Prince Nasier (the elder of the Princes) wants to be this, and he believes that his father will name him to be the next King so that he can have a chance to improve that state of his country and people. When his father bows to the wishes of the Americans and oil execs and names the younger Prince to be their puppet, Nasier tries to go outside the system.
  • Kicked Upstairs: The original plan for what to do with Bob.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: and the original cut was to have even more.
  • Mind Screw: though it has less to do with symbolism or odd twists so much as having so many storylines that you'll lose track of them.
  • Motifs: Count the swimming pools in the important scenes.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The film was marketed as though it were an almost Mad Max-esque thriller set Twenty Minutes into the Future, and was full of stuff blowing up. In fact, the film was a ensemble piece on the effects of oil politics on a whole swath of people from totally divergent backgrounds.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: The missile strike at the end leaves a smoking hole where there once stood a silver SUV.
  • Unflinching Walk: Bob does this while a car blows up in the background.


Sympathy for Lady VengeanceFilms of 2005 - 2009 Tamara

alternative title(s): Syriana
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