Saturday, 12 October 2019

cyrus the great

With a resplendent encampment in the desert much like the summit between Francis I and Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, some attribute the decadent festivities that began on this day in 1971 and continuing until 16 October as a significant factor contributing to the downfall of the Shah and the ousting of the monarchy in this grand fêting of the institution itself on the occasion of its twenty-five hundredth anniversary.
Commemorating the sixth century BC founding of the Achaeminid dynasty, the celebration meant to showcase Iran’s contributions to civilisation and modern advances quickly became a partisan issue and the monumental cost (by some estimates, upwards of twenty-two million dollars) of banqueting and parades curried support for the Ayatollah. In exchange for the Shah’s funding of his own experimental film not released until 2018, Orson Welles agreed to narrate (see also) a documentary of the party for the hosts, which was attended by almost all the world’s royals and heads of state.