US Navy fleet blown up in new Iranian film

TEHERAN • A new animated film from Iran shows the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet being blown out of the water in the latest effort to build up the legend of the country's most celebrated general.

Director Farhad Azimi told local media that his 80-minute Battle Of The Persian Gulf II is "a response to the gibberish of Hollywood and American politicians". Four years in the making, its expensive graphics, thumping soundtrack and barrages of missiles are a slick addition to Iran's propaganda efforts.

It stars a commander with a salt-and-pepper beard, explicitly modelled on Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' external operations arm, the Quds Force.

Maj-Gen Soleimani heads operations in Syria, Iraq and beyond, and has become a prominent fixture in the media in recent years, often pictured on the front line or alongside Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. His high profile has led to speculation he may emerge as a presidential candidate, though he has so far denied any desire to move into politics.

Battle Of The Persian Gulf II cost some five billion rials (S$218,000) to make - part of increasing military propaganda efforts that in many ways mirror the close involvement of the Pentagon in Hollywood's more gung-ho blockbusters.

It comes at a time of mounting tensions, after US President Donald Trump warned that any Iranian boats harassing the US Navy - a regular occurrence in the Gulf, according to the Pentagon - would be "shot out of the water".

Mr Azimi said he wanted to highlight Iran's defensive capabilities.

"If one bullet is fired by the enemy towards Iran, we will respond firmly," he said.

The film has premiered in Iran's second city, Mashhad, and is due to arrive in Teheran next week. The film-makers are also hoping to show it in China and Russia.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'US Navy fleet blown up in new Iranian film'. Print Edition | Subscribe