May 26, 2011 / Filmwell
Kenji Koiso has his summer vacation all planned out: he and his friend Sakuma have …
September 8, 2010
Omer Mozaffar on Majid Majidi’s wonderful The Color of Paradise and the narratives and stereotypes that we often bring to bear when analyzing and critiquing movies:
The greater point that I am making, however, is that when we watch an Iranian film, we often view it through this lens: we assume that the film is heavy on social commentary. Some films – especially children’s films – indeed share sharp critiques, but some do not. Are the various females in a Panahi children’s film windows into Iranian gender dynamics? Are the absent domineering men in his films depicting the theocratic state? Perhaps. Here, is the broken nameless father in “The Color of Paradise” anything but a broken nameless father? Those questions are part of the nightingale’s journey, carefully peeling off the petals of the vibrant fragrant rose.
…my point is that our own narratives often dictate the telling of someone else’s story. Is “The Color of Paradise” flavored with social commentary and symbolism? I do not know. It does not seem to invite it. In America it has been largely overshadowed by its very excellent predecessor, the Academy Award nominated “Children of Heaven,” which seems to make some blatant comments about social class.
In any case, “The Color of Paradise” does stand apart in one strange, distinct way from most every Iranian film I have ever seen. Should I find it perplexing that many films in this tenuously staunch theocratic state — including those from its own Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults – feature religion, but few films actually speak of the Divine? In a particularly pregnant layer of this film (which is incidentally more accurately titled, “The Color of God” or “Rang-e-Khoda”), the central characters long for and lash against the Divine, while peripheral characters segue themselves into superstitions. Through this thread, the film does seem to assert that our own narratives about the Divine also color our own pious aspirations. Thus, we wonder if, at the end of the film, there was reunion, and was that reunion depressingly sad or hopefully happy?
I still do not know. I am still peeling layers from the rose that is this film.