Movie Magazine International

His Majesty King Hussein

USA - 1999

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

In the new video release by MPI, the subject is the late Jordanian monarch, King Hussein, who reigned the Middle Eastern country for 47 years. While the one-hour film, entitled "His Majesty King Hussein," spans most of his career and some of his private life, it should most definitely not be considered the definitive summation of this amazing man's life.

I'll admit to a bias right up front: I've had a mad crush on this distinguished man since I was a young girl. The fakes in Hollywood could never compare to the dashing king with the sweet eyes and gracious ways, not in my book anyway. The fact that he always married women of outstanding intellect just made him more appealing.

Having said that, this film failed me in many ways. At best, it took a one-eyed look. Sure, it was full of glowing descriptions of the "man of peace" but never went beyond it.

Most annoying was the fact that the film had no order - chronological or otherwise - to it. This was a bad decision because when you're trying to follow history, one event generally ignites the next and so on. In the end, all the wars ran together in my mind. The only clear message I got was that he wanted peace for his country and some land for the Palestinians; maybe that was all he wanted but even that was vague.

While the old footage acquired from newsreels and other sources was excellent, the filmmakers (no director is listed, only producers) opted to use the same shots over and over again, just in case we suffered from short-term memory loss. In contrast, the narration by former Jordanian broadcast journalist, Ablah Faraheed, was crisp and respectful; her voice added class and a sense of personalism to the perspective.

With only two personal interviews to offer, their choices were poor. One was the head of the Arab-American Business Association who spoke in such a dull manner, he could've passed on Hussein's dying words and I would've fallen asleep. Further confusion was made when the film states that the King had 11 children but the video jackets says 12. Ugh.

In all fairness, the film did provide some fascinating facts about the monarch's family and past. I knew he'd been very close with his grandfather (also King) when he was alive but I didn't know that his own father was removed from the throne due to a serious case of schizophrenia. Hussein's mother, Queen Zane, ruled the land until the 17-year-old man/boy received his work order on a silver platter, revealingly addressed to "His Majesty."

Maybe I want too much, but this was someone so big, he simply cannot be pared down. He was a King and nothing less than an epic will do.

© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 8/25/99

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