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There were “many panoramas of the city of Paris, the Exposition [Universelle] buildings, the way the rain falls, and the river Seine flows.” Mozaffar al-Din Shah, fifth of the Qajar kings, His Majesty of Magnifying Powers of the Most Pure Monarch, was much impressed by his first experience of the new medium of cinema, which he instructed his court photographer, Mirza Ebrahim Khan Akkasbashi, to introduce to Iran. The July 1900 encounter took place at a private screening in the French health resort of Contrexéville. A few weeks later, the shah visited the Paris world’s fair himself, where he was captivated by a movie exhibition in its 15,000-seat main hall. This was the first of the shah’s three extravagant trips to Europe that would imperil Iranian state finances and lead to his handing over considerable power to a newly founded Majles (parliament) in 1906.

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