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Why Jon Stewart’s new film Rosewater is a real-life horror movie

Smart and witty, Jon Stewart is known for hosting The Daily Show, a late-night satirical view on world politics. Now he’s directing a feature film called Rosewater that’s based on the true story of journalist who was kidnapped and detained in Iran for more than 100 days.

Journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal) traveled to Iran to cover the country’s presidential election. While there, he was held hostage and brutally interrogated at Evin Prison. Bahari was almost always blindfolded while being questioned and could identify his interrogator by his distinctive scent — rose water.

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Muslim chemists began producing rose water hundreds of years ago and have continued to use the sweet-smelling rose petal solution for many purposes, such as a flavoring in food and also as a topical medicine. It’s not a scent we normally associate with kidnappers, so it’s ironic that a floral smell is associated with the terrible events depicted in the film.

Based on the book Then They Came for Me by Bahari and his wife, Aimee Molloy, Rosewater the movie is a chilling look at one man’s real-life journey. But as frightening as it is, The Daily Show‘s Stewart still found ways to give the story some levity.

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In the trailer, Bahari is asked about his connection to Anton Chekhov. Bahari asks, “You mean the playwright?” His captor demands to know who this Anton Chekhov is and why he’s listed as one of his interests on Facebook. Of course, Chekhov himself would find this terribly funny, but Bahari certainly did not.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The Iranian government has claimed Jon Stewart’s film Rosewater was funded by the ‘Zionist lobby’ and the CIA.”

To which Stewart replied, “I guess I’m still waiting for the money. I must have sold myself too cheaply,” and that, “It’s just sad.”

We think it’s sad, too. Can’t we all just get along?

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Rosewater opens in theaters on Nov. 7.

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