Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Penelope Mortimer discussed on Here & Now


Wanted to live to be happy to sing love. And when she waited out she thought that she carried on leading the way they wanted her to live. Also, destroyed herself. Well, the way they wanted her to live. Let's let's take that up because here again, there's echoes of the young Princess from Dubai who also in that video said, I wouldn't be able to choose my husband, and that's one of the reasons she fled Princess, Michelle was an arranged marriage. Her husband wasn't really around she'd be abandoned. And so she made contact with the young people in Riyadh. It was impossible for men and women who are not related to be together. But behind the doors of the boutiques young people could meet and she'd seen a young man apparently playing the guitar on television. And she met him in a batik in Riyadh, and they fell in love, and they were determined that they would be together. And they were hoping that that coming summer. They would go to in London with the young people could wear jeans and drink champagne and just as they were planning to meet in London. Her grandfather prince Muhammad put lay down in order that will the young people would stay so in an act of rebellion. She staged. Suicide. She met the young man, she left clothes at a beach with the assistance of servant, and they ran off together and then try to escape country. Again, Anthony Thomas tried to pull this thread of the story that he heard and as he started to travel through the Arab world, he he realized that meant so many different things to so many different people have become almost mythological everywhere. We went in fact, we met people who projected their own lives. A woman who had had an arranged marriage or a woman who had run off with a man she loved who happen to be Christian and her brother was sent to kill her. So it was a private journey. Into the inside life of the of the Arab world and one that officials in Saudi Arabia wanted to keep private when this. Film was made trade deals where threatened huge uproar journalists in the United Kingdom wonder did we do the right thing. PBS huge controversy. Remember here when you also decided to air it on what was then world. Give us some context for how big this was well, the acting secretary of State Warren, Christopher came to PBS to tell them that they should not run the film Mobil Oil, then in fact, the supporter of masterpiece theater at W H two kind of full page ad in the New York Times saying that PBS should not run the film, and I remember going in to office with Peter McGee and Henry Becton, and we sat down together and say, there's a real chance that PBS may decide not to run this film. And we just wanna make sure that our journalism is right. And I said, no, we've got the journalism, Brian we've told the story as it really is. And Henry then. And said well in case PBS foles, we've rented space on the transponder of the satellite, and we'll put it up out of Boston to the whole system. And that's when I really knew that was in fact, the moment that frontline was made in the sense because we could stand withstand those pressures and effect. The film went out the sky didn't fool, and the film was proved to be accurate. Well, I would say this guy still hasn't fallen and it should have. When you heard this recent story, did you find yourself thinking, it's still happening. These young woman were not executed, but we hear of women who are you know, the fact that this was forty years ago, and we'd heard about the conditions of this young woman being forced to stay in the women's palace and and denied any right to meet and have a life. We thought it was medieval, then the fact that all these years later, this is still happening is just shocking. You said you felt you had the journalism, right? Are you sure of that? Because you know. We since had people confirm it, and they've been a number of people high inside, the Royal family of told us that the the story is told in death Princess, there was Penelope Mortimer who worked on the film. And she said the stories were taken on the evidence of an ex Pat divorce say, you know, the story about the lives of Saudi princesses. And no effort was made to check up on information. It's rumor it's opinion on the audience gets conned. Well, Antonis I was that he probably needed to make this a fictional story. Because it was too hard to get people on the record. And so he set out to write a screenplay with Penelope mortem, and when you decided to step away from that he was unhappy with the he got into a tiff with Penelope Mortimer. So that those arguments go back to that disagreement defending you say people confirmed the story of the Princess we also have with our own eyes witness the story of Jamach Shoji stregic. Which our intelligence agencies believe the Saudis sent a hit team to murder him in cut him up. I mean if not under the autism Hamad bin Salman. We would say to people this film is so instructional Russian see. But it's very hard to see it in the UK. It wasn't broadcast again until a private screening in two thousand nine. It was rebroadcast by you on frontline in two thousand five for the twenty fifth anniversary. We have thought we did find it on YouTube. Have you thought about releasing it would we we could we would look at it again. And and see it was an enormous event when it was broadcast in nineteen eighty it was the highest rated film at the time in public television history. And when it went back in two thousand and five it was he didn't have quite the same impact lie. Do you think that is David fanning, do you think we've just there's an acceptance of this? I think acceptance I think there has been Lasorda acceptance of Saudi Arabia's role as an ally in the country, and and a reluctance and people in general to disturb. And ask hard questions of the kingdom. What we're seeing? Now, the who is his time in its life win with the prosecution. This terrible war in Yemen. People being held in hotel in Riyadh. This is a time of evaluation about Saudi Arabia and its its role in the civilized world. The way you, and I and I'm sure many others were thinking of this Princess with the recent headlines wondering, I mean, did you ever did you ever pick up anywhere that these young women? These current princesses are aware of her story. They might. Indeed, no, no Saudi Arabia. They still remember death of a Princess. We've had teams in Saudi Arabia ask why frontline rebroadcast death of a Princess in two thousand and five it's still famous story in the Middle East. And I'm sure frightening one. David fanning, frontline, speaking to us about the nineteen eighty docudrama..

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