Women in the Iranian Cinema
By: Mariam Bassiri
Payam-e Zan; (Monthly)
The Islamic Propagation Bureau of Qom Religious Seminary Magazine
Sep. 23- Oct. 21, 1997, Vol. 9, No. 8
Summary: After the victory of Islamic Revolution in Iran a transformation occurred in the nature of Iranian cinema and the women's role in Iranian film became more positive and fundamental.
Among famous directors who have introduced the values of women in Iranian films, one can refer to Ms. Rakhshan Bani-etemad, Ms. Pooran Derakhshandeh, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Dariush Mehrjooie, Ahmad Reza Darvish and Ali Hatami.
Of Bani-etemad's outstanding works one can refer to Narges, The Blue-Veiled; of Pooran Derakhshandeh mention can be made of The Small Bird of Happiness. Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh; Boycott; The Marriage of the Blessed; the Actor; and Once Upon a Time Cinema are notable. From among Mehrjooie's works we can speak about Hamoon, Pari and Sara.
Meanwhile May Be Some Other Time; Bashoo, the Small Stranger from Bahram Beyzaie; Kimia from Ahmad Reza Darvish and By Love Stricken and Mother from Ali Hatami are also worthy of consideration. One common point among these film-makers is their sympathetic and psychological approach to women's role in the family, education and society, politics and economy. These films have shown women to be committed to good morals and family beliefs; they are brave, self-sacrificing elements who can endure difficulties and are glorified in their educational and protective role as well as love.
Text: Cinema is an art whose wonderful and comprehensive effect is not hidden to anybody. Perhaps it is for this comprehensive and impressive role of the cinema that although slow in its progress at the beginning in Iran, later cinema advanced at a dazzling and delirious pace because film and cinema are the most commonly used mass media to communicate with the public. Iran also has not been left behind from this contemporary revolution and has stepped into the field and has produced films. Before the (1979) Revolution many films which were common and without identity lost their artistic value and despite existence of good directors who still are active in the cinema, not many lasting and valuable films have survived from that period. In the majority of pre-revolution films a woman was treated as a worthless and negligible figure and seldom reference was made to her positive and humanitarian qualities and values. In fact in these series of films a woman was a puppet in the hand of the film-maker. But after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, our cinema was also revolutionized and the general nature of our films and the role of women in the films changed in a positive manner. Although at the first few post-revolutionary years due to the war (with Iraq) our cinema was stagnant for a period of time, gradually film-making took pace and contrary to pre-revolution era educated women with different and new perspectives entered the field.
In the newly revolutionized cinema women gradually found their place and took steps to overcome their side and marginal roles. Of course there are still films in Iran in which women play a marginal role or no role at all as if they have no other business in the film but function as a mother or wife. In such films the corner of the house forms part of the film and women do not play a remarkable or responsible role in the society. In fact such women do not possess specific personality and if you don't throw a stone in their way, they will not lift it. In such films mostly women act as a mistress longing to get married to her beloved or in a film full of fighting and excitement she appears as the wife of a saboteur or criminal. But the number of films in which women play the first role are not few and the general theme of such films is based on their specific ideology and thoughts. In such works endeavor is made to display the psychological and sympathetic value of the woman in the family, in education and political and economic fields. The director tries to represent women as the pillar of a healthy life in the family and the society. Due to their own specific interests the film-makers choose a specific social or individual feature of the woman and engross it in the film.
In such series of films we will study several specific films which were produced during the post-revolution era and in addition to discharging the strong framework and superior technique of the director, we will mostly concentrate on women's performance in the films.
These directors have shown that thanks to their strength and delicate talents they can display the woman and her world in the most beautiful and dramatic manner to the audience.
Poor women in the cinema
Derakhshan Bani-etemad is one of the film directors who does not compare women with men in order to expose her superior capabilities and power. Instead she assesses the values of men and women simultaneously. This is contrary to the image produced by others where men are weakened to show the worth of women.
In her Off the Limits, the Yellow Canary, and Foreign Currency Bani-etemad does not cast a dazzling glance at women but in her the Blue- Veiled she portrays the woman's capabilities at a time that before that she had added the much debated Narges to her itinerary accomplishments in the cinema. Narges embodies three specific features in women: suffering, love and self-sacrifice - three important principles where again appeared in Bani-etemad's Sara.
Adel and Afaq join hands to earn their bread by robbery until Narges appeared on the scene. Adel falls in love with Narges and dispatches Afaq to court her. When Narges enters Adel's file, she brings youth, fire and love into her poor house. This continues until Adel is imprisoned for theft. It is then that the facts begin to surface and Narges learns that her husband is nothing but a thief and that Afaq is her wife and not mother! Taking into account the circumstances the audience expects Narges to consider herself deceived and unhappy and to sue for immediate divorce from Adel, but despite her poverty and suffering in her former life, Narges loves her new life. She does not lose her courage and shows that despite all her sufferings by unwavering faith and love a woman can make self-sacrifice and save her life from ruin. She lingers and resists hardships and proves that an able woman can influence her environment and the people who are living in that environment and make her husband repentant of her past deeds and beg for her support. In her endless endeavors Narges tries to find a way to save Adel and in the meantime she assumes a friendly attitude towards Afaq and invites her husband to lead a virtuous life. In fact Narges is the manifestation of a lady who is committed to family and religious codes and doctrines which include both positive and negative trends in mankind. This is what the film-maker emphasizes and intentionally prepares the ground to display Narges' inner personality and strength.
At the end of the film Adel is freed from prison and upon Afaq's request to continue their former profession, he becomes attracted to Narges and her unique personality and gives up his former criminal occupation. Afaq who considers herself a defeated figure in the game, prefers to escape the scene and at the end of the film she dies. Although Afaq is nothing but another sufferer who had been wounded in her life and after spending her youth in her former husband's house she had been ruthlessly thrown out of the house and then she had sought protection from Adel and relied on the young jobless idler and joined hands with the new husband to do misdeeds. On the contrary not only Narges does not pollute her life but tries to help Adel and even Afaq to lead them towards goodness and virtue. To sum up Narges is the personification of the life of a poor and unprotected woman in the community who thanks to strong reasoning and doctrines saves herself and her friends from the abyss of destruction and helps them seek a better way of living.
In the Blue-Veiled a warm love blossoms in an aristocratic house surrounded with lofty walls and causes the lover to mate with the poor in ruins. Rahmani is an old man who owns a tomato farm and tomato juice factory. He has lost his wife and is presently living with her three daughters. Nobar is a farm laborer in Rahmani's estate. In the peak of poverty she is taking care of her addicted mother, younger sister and a riotous and mischievous brother. Despite all the hardships of poverty, Nobar preserves her chastity and uprightness. When Rahmani observes Nobar's strong personality and firm logic during business, the seeds of love blossoms in his heart. But nevertheless he considers marriage an ugly act in his old age and is involved in continued conflict with his conscience whether to erase Nobar's image from his mind or marry her. But Nobar's loyalty fascinates the ancient lover and eventually Rahmani concludes that happiness is not the thing the others observe in his life but a thing which must be sought within one's own heart.
On the other hand Nobar who has tasted the bitterness of a real life and has faced all difficulties and hardships, is now revived with a strong love. Narges who, according to the personages in the film is looked as a strange rustic girl, finds problems even to express her love and willingness to marry. Although being surrounded by her family members Nobar feels lonely; nevertheless she turns down an offer of marriage from Reza who comes from her own class because she feels that this would not be a reasonable match. Meanwhile despite his big house, factory and children, Rahmani also feels lonely and after a luxurious life now that he is acquainted with Nobar his perspective about life changes and he believes that love can only end her loneliness. Thus at the height of his infatuation with Nobar and hesitation about marriage, he tells Nobar: "Oh that you had not come, Oh I had not seen you. Oh that you had come earlier!".
Love does not appear in a romantic garb in the Blue-Veiled but is assessed as a necessary element to perpetuate and invigorate life. In this film one must feel the bitterness of alienation and the bliss of love and sympathy. One must know that Nobar (meaning a new fruit in Farsi) is really a new fruit in life. This love episode erupts at a time that Nobar is wrecking her brains to manage her life because her mother has been jailed and she is trying to stop his brother from becoming another drug addict.
Eventually Nobar and Rahmani join their hands in marriage. However despite all his pressing problems Nobar has no eye to wealth but seek Rahmani's kindness and protection. But when Rahmani's daughters learn about the marriage they think that Nobar has cheated their father to steal their wealth and try to bribe her to exit from their father's life. But Nobar stands firm on his ground and says: "I did not come here for the sake of money. I came here for the sake of an individual."
On the other hand when Nobar's mother learns about her marriage with Rahmani in the jail she sheds tears of joy. Although a frustrated and devious figure who, due to the severity of times and unwanted poverty and death of husband she has sunk into abyss of baseness, she still has a mother's heart to beat in her breast - a mother who is in love with her child and seeks her happiness. Nobar's mother more resembles Afaq in Narges. Both are lonely, poor, helpless, wounded and beaten in their lives.
In the end Rahmani's hostile and threatening daughters succeed to pour their venom and Nobar who thinks she has disturbed their peace by entering into their life, sacrifices herself and stays away from Rahmani. When Nobar leaves, Rahmani loudly proclaims to her daughters that `Rahmani has died' - in the same way that after losing Adel, Afaq thinks Adel now belongs to Narges and believes her life has come to an end and if not dead she would have become a senseless and lethargic figure which would not differ from a dead person.
With these two very beautiful films Bani-etemad has portrayed a poor lady's life immersed in addiction, corruption, theft and tries to display the personality of women who against their wish have been estranged in the mess, and examines their fate in a vary logical manner. Although the theme is not novel and such stories have been related or acted by others, Bani-etemad portrays things from a different angle and defends women's helpless condition.
Woman in Makhmalbaf's works
Despite too much vitality and action in Makhmalbaf's written or unwritten works Mohsen Makhmalbaf is another film-maker who has zoomed on women and their problems.
In Boycott the woman endures all difficulties but in the meantime she builds the character of the man. When her husband is taken to prison for political reasons, she supports her husband and during her absence she respects the sanctity of her house. In the first episode of the Peddler the woman in the film is really living and breathing. In this film the poverty and oppressive nature of a woman who wants to lay her child in the road in order to save her sick child is manifest though in the end motherly sympathy overcomes such a motive and she doubles her efforts to find her child.
In Cyclist although the physical presence of the lady is marginal, she is the dynamic force behind the scene. The husband is driving the cycle for seven days and nights without a break in order to earn enough money to cure his wife. In this film the woman forms the essential pillar of the family and is so valuable to her husband and child that the husband does all within his power to save her and this leads her to find a new perspective about life.
In The Marriage of the Blessed, the lady in the film is the wife of a volunteer combatant. The Basiji fighter is obsessed with many psychological problems and annoys his surrounding personages with his eccentric behavior. Everybody in the film manages to stay away from the man except his devoted and sincere wife who continues to tolerate his eccentricities and pranks until he recovers from his illness and again rushes to the war front.
In the Actor the lady becomes a sacrifices of wrong male-dominated culture. Simin who has last her spiritual balance under the pressure of her father and brothers busies herself with a modern way of life and learns different musical instruments. Although mad, she respects the demands of her husband and is desirous to live according to his wishes. Simin loves goodness and beauty and although at times under the pressure of unbalanced and unrestrained sentiments she defies every element, because she believes she is suffering from a bitter pain which is lack of belief.
Therefore, she resorts to sorcery but fails in her endeavors until she decides to find another wife for her husband and brings a gypsy girl into the house who seems to be dump. The man who is fed up with Simin's mad behavior repels the second wife and decides to cure his wife, but the lady's madness worsens and the man who feels he is estranged from his own self experiences real life beside his second wife and understands the true meaning of an spiritual life. Then he returns the second lady who is the symbol of a future unknown and dump world to her family, returns Simin who is the symbol of her present and materialistic life to his house along with her child.
In Once Upon a Time Cinema, we meet frustrated women who are confined to the royal harem. The chief lady of the harem is trying to endear herself to the king ignorant of the fact that the Shah is in love with the character of the lady in the "Lor Girl" film. In order to win the lady the king plays different roles in the films and by these performances in fact he reviews acting in Iran.
Contrary to his former works Gabbeh is a simple and beautiful film which attracts every viewer. Gabbeh is the most genuine nomadic carpet in Iran in which the weaver takes her inspiration wholly from the nature to weave without resort to any design or drawing. Besides displaying the method of production of Iranian carpet, Gabbeh takes a step ahead of a documentary film and mixes and imaginary and rosy scenes with the facts.
Gabbeh is the identity of nomadic tribes and with each Gabbeh the nomadic woman portrays her own Life. The old man and woman who wash the Gabbehs exchange their recollection of life. In the beginning of the film they have a very beautiful quarrel as to who must wash the Gabbeh, when the young girl portrayed in the Gabbeh, who is in fact the lady in her youth, steps out of the Gabbeh and relates. The young lady has a lover in which the viewer only hears his voice and his vague shadow. The family of the young lady oppose their marriage and the Gabbeh which rekindles the old woman's memory now stands outside the carpet and relates the adventures of her life and her family. In the end after a verbal quarrel between the old man and the old woman they conclude to advise the young lady's uncle let the lady marry the stranger.
Gabbeh represents sacrifice, love, marriage, birth and death among nomadic people. In fact Gabbeh is a manifestation of nomadic clan life represented in beautiful cadres and colors. Life continues her course uninterrupted by using the stream as the moving object and symbol of running life. Gabbeh allows the viewers freedom to experiment nomadic life in a very beautiful and broad scope and the extent of love between the Gabbeh lady and her teacher's uncle. Despite the fact that she opposes her parents, the lady in the Gabbeh continues to help her parents and obeys their instructions until in the end she marries the old man who was shown at the beginning of the film which is her actual husband.
Woman and education
Pouran Derakhshande is one of the film-makers who gives credit to educational matters and exhibits women as active and progressive elements. In her `Relation' a young adult has problem in speech and hearing and is being hurt by her friends and neighbors but is supported by his mother. At the end thanks to the mother's self-sacrifice and exertions the child is cured of his handicap and succeeds to communicate with her surrounding.
In her The Small Bird of Happiness we become acquainted with Malihe and her life. Malihe is a young adult who witnesses her mother's drowning in their swimming pool. The shock causes her to lose her power of speech. When observing things that remind her of her past or the tragic death of her mother, Malihe becomes angry and riotous.
Meanwhile her classmates and neighboring children annoy Malihe and cause her to become more hostile to her environment. Mrs. Shafiq who has just become a teacher in the school for the deaf, observes Malihe's different moods and decides to help her. She approaches the young adult and tries to reconcile her with her normal life but the mentality of the girl is such that even her father is tired of her and does not believe that her daughter will recover. However, Shafiq which is a model of self-sacrifice remains beside Malihe and takes her to excursions. She buys gifts for the girl and tries to kill her past bitter experience. This continues until in the last section of the film she faces a strange incident when she rushes to Malihe's rescue but she herself falls into the swimming pool in the house. Here the memory of the mother's death is awakened in Malihe and she succeeds to speak and utter the word "mother" because she considers Shafiq, her present teacher, as her friend and mother.
Scholar Pari and pure mysticism
During her tenure in the cinema Dariush Mehrjouie has given special importance to the inner qualities of women. His works particularly in the last decade display his specific perspective on women and family matters which shocks and excites the viewers and causes them to ponder about the work. Hamoon is one of these films that Mehrjouie has directed. The film has a tinge of philosophy which makes people contemplate. While his wife has deserted him and has called for divorce, Hamoon is working on a doctorate dissertation about `love and faith'. While he is confronted with the legal formalities of divorce he reviews his happy moments of past - moments when he became acquainted with his wife and married her and moments when his wife became fond of painting and made him angry. In Hamoon the family is disintegrating. The wife mixes her colors according to her thoughts because she is fed up with her husband's pretensions of mysticism. On the other hand the husband does not like the modern and confusing thoughts of his wife. The woman is a cliche specimen in the Iranian film who shouts and tries to prove her point not by reason or by overcoming transient passions.
Hamoon is in fact an open protest against the intellectuals of the community and portrays the difference and quarrels in such families. It also displays Mehrjouie's critical approach to the growth of intellectualism in Iran. In the same manner Mojtaba Rayi opens the same subject in his film Ghazal where he refers to the removal of veil in the past and criticizes the wave of present intellectualism.
Sara is another film directed by Mehrjouie which zooms on the laborious life of the first personage. Sara's husband is ill and behind her husband she is sewing embroidery in order to obtain loan from the bank to treat her husband. But Sara's ungrateful husband is indifferent to his wife's labors and calls him the little lady.
Nevertheless the woman does not unveil her efforts and is excessively steady in her purpose and as a result of too much work she looses her eyesight. But still she continues to shoulder all the difficulties of life alone. She tries to overcome all her hardships alone because she has arrived at a new understanding about life and her reactions are all logical and not sentimental. However, Sara has a multidimensional personality and the director tries to build a saint out of the first actress. Although Sara pretends to be in the right the basis of her faction is fraud and lie. Sara forges her father's signature to obtain loan from the bank and the bank clerk who has discovered the fraud is trying to put pressure on Sara and threatens to make the matter public. But despite all her fears she resists the clerk until her husband discovers the secret. Since Sara is tired of her husband's unkindness, she deserts him. Of course with the strong personality drawn about Sara her desertion seems to be unexpected.
Pari is another repetition of Hamoon with the difference that she is only understood by special classes of people and the common people fail to understand her. On the contrary Hamoon has a medium understanding. She is neither simple like Sara nor sophisticated like Pari. Meanwhile Hamoon is considered an anti-feminist but Pari is a feminist.
The stories of Pari and Hamoon start with a sleep which ends into nightmare because the director tries to employ cinematic tactics to find a means to portray the inner feelings of his personages in which he succeeds by flashbacks, dissolving gradual evaporation of colors in the images.
Pari is a student. One of her brothers is a poet, the other is a story writer and the youngest is a student. They are Aazam's children. Like many Iranian mothers Aazam is a simple-minded housewife whose only care is her children's happiness. Pari's brothers are all agnostic-minded and nobody can understand why contrary to their parents the children have grown mystical and philosophical. Her revolt against her teacher serves a prelude to her pursuit of the path of mysticism. By reading mystic books belonging to her brother, Pari grows disturbed and bewildered and like the hero of the books she tries to find how she must pray to open her light to enlightenment. But she is only in the mental stage of pursuit of the path and has a long time to understand the truth. The restlessness of Pari and other personages in the film makes the viewer tremble and ponder in what stage of life he or she is.
By her riotous outbursts, verbal quarrels, sudden laughter and childish weeping, Pari intends to tread the path towards spiritual perfection whereas a student of mystical science needs an inner incentive and desire for purification of her soul. Pari lacks such an incentive and burning and restless desire. Her world is not the pure world of retired mystics but a limited scope of a mystic's life which has a fascinating appearance.
Pari speaks of Buddha's ideas but she mistakes her course until she imitates one of her brothers to march the path towards perfection. But the younger brother who is abnormal and eccentric has already trodden the path and he helps her sister. In fact the problem of the film is to prove things whose understanding is even difficult in a real life for people and the more so in the language of cinema when we wish to portray the pitch of perfection or illumination by cinematic techniques, whereas the director is vainly trying to make Pari a perfect human being who has achieved absolute mysticism and purified her soul.
Mother and example of patience
In his `By Love Stricken' and `Mother', Ali Hatami shows a new perspective about women. A mother who is dying, summons her children to her house so that she can spend her last days with them. Upon relating her recollections, the five children who have remained estranged and discordant gradually forget their difference and improve their ties until another man appears in the scene. The children are surprised to see an Arab among them. But their mother informs them that the boy is their father's son during his exile south of the country. The children learn that the mother had found a wife for their father during his imprisonment in the south so that he would not feel lonely and the son is the fruit of the second marriage. The sisters and brothers who are just becoming intimate with each other gradually communicate with their new brother and the mother who is an example of an Iranian devoted mother and manages to solve the difference among his disunited children, listens to their complaints in a manner that gradually she is forgotten among the episodes.
Then the film zooms on the life of the children and with the exception of her husband's relation with his second wife during his exile, the film does not portray the mother any more. In the end the mother who has prepared herself for death, burial and mourning ceremony, expires in a white dress and white bed like immortal figures in mythology.
In By Love Stricken an Iranian music band travels to Paris to perform a concert. This film which refers to the sincere relations between the woman and her husband is full of personages who are attached to their national traditional rites and religious code. They are patriots who are in love with their homes and families.
The mother-oriented myth
Woman is exceedingly conspicuous in Bahram Beyzaie's films. She can be felt, is glorious and fabulous. In his films a single woman is a personification of all women. They are never ashamed of being a woman because the images and stories exhibited by the film-maker do not make the women shy of their existence. A woman might be negligible, depressed and vexed with her life and husband but all these things are external manifestations of social behaviors and do not emanate from the lady's inner feelings. In fact it is the surrounding people who must be unhappy and ashamed of their anxiety and unhappiness. The woman complains not because she is a woman but because she does not see things in their proper shape.
In May Be Some Other Time, the film opens with a husband who is suspicious about the behavior of his wife. Kian who suffers from anxiety and restlessness, forgetfulness and whims, hides her illness from her husband and is always disturbed when she is in her presence. The husband who is ignorant of his wife's psychological problem attributes her disturbance and strange behavior to her treason and is not aware that she is looking for her true identity. Because the wife has forgotten part of her childhood and is gripped with the nightmare of living in a ruined and deserted house as an infant - a baby who is stranded and abandoned in a carriage. She asks her parents why she has no picture of her childhood and why doesn't she remember anything about her childhood.
In the end and after extensive search Kian learns that she has been an abandoned child and that her present parents are not her true parents. On the other hand thanks to his friends' assistance the husband locates a man he thinks has an affair with his wife and under the pretext of shooting a documentary film he goes into his house. There he discovers that the woman he had thought to be his wife was the twin sister of his wife and the wife of the stranger! When these sisters meet Kian complains about her unkind mother who had deserted her.
The sister informs her that at the time there was sheer famine and after the death of their father her mother was unable to support both of them and had no other alternative but to separate her children so that she could at least take care of one of them. Then she speaks about her mother's suffering and how she had been searching after her lost child all her life. By applying beautiful technical features such as black and white flashbacks the film also tries to portray the sad and painful suffering of a poor mother and her unsupported life.
In fact May Be Some Other Time is a protest against the community to accept the mother's right of motherhood and to support the widow and the orphan. In The Travelers, the mythical grand mother becomes an epitome of patience and in a scene where the spectators are expecting the guests to arrive at the wedding and the old women calms them and bids them to have patience, the patience of the grandmother ends and the travelers, who contrary to the guests' expectations are dead, appear in an unrealistic manner in the marriage feast which has now turned into a mourning ceremony.
In Bashoo, the Little Stranger, Beyzaie rekindles the mother-oriented myth again. In this film woman plays the role of a devoted mother and thanks to her exemplary behavior, thought and speech which is deep rooted in her background, she supports her children.
To love, to repel every sort of rudeness, hatred of death and annihilation and destruction, creating merriment and feasts, love of family and homeland, deep attachment to one's native land, hatred of moving from one rented house to another, fear of lack of shelter, supporting every needy living creature, self-sacrifice for the sake of love, compassion and kindness, nursing, to live close with each other, to speak by gestures and by tokens and employing energy and skill instead of resorting to force, are the outstanding moral features of woman in the film. Bashoo, the Little Stranger, is another version of May Be Some Other Time which pays tribute to the rank of mother in a glorious and commendable manner.
Bashoo is a boy who has witnessed his father buried in debris of a collapsing house during the enemy's savage bombardments of their unprotected village and the burning of her mother in the inferno. Bashoo who is extremely afraid flies amid blood and fire and jumps into the back of a moving truck. The next day the truck stops at north. The boy is dazed and dump does not know what to do. Then he hears a bursting in the mountain and believing it to be another bombardment he flies into the forest and stops near a hut deep in the forest. In that house a mother is living with her two children. The boy who is hungry stares at the family who are having dinner. The woman who understands that the boy is hungry calls Bashoo with her local dialect to join them, but Bashoo does not understand her language and feels harassed and hides himself within the bushes. The woman who is astonished at Bashoo's strange behavior places some bread on the ground and leaves. From that moment the magic of motherly feeling and support of the child rushes into the woman's bosom, and Bashoo resorts to the lady's protection against the unknown evils that surrounds him, because the boy is speaking Arabic and cannot speak the local dialect of the women.
But besides her ordinary tongue the woman is equipped with strong motherly instinct which enables her to communicate with Bashoo. Although the neighbors consider the boy a negro and stranger, the mother loves the orphan and resists any violence against him. Bashoo who is grateful to the mother's kindness rises to support the woman whose husband has traveled to an unknown location and being educated takes care of her accounts in the market in day time and through the mother she writes a letter to the father (the lady's husband). In that letter the wife requests her husband to permit her to keep Bashoo but the man, displeased with the stranger, writes back and tells her wife to send the boy back to his house.
After reading the reply Bashoo escapes into the depth of the forest until after much difficulty the mother finds him but because of suffering too much hardship during the search she becomes badly sick and confined to bed. Now Bashoo's concern is not to return to his home but avoid losing the kind mother. Therefore he takes great pains to save the lady and take care of the animals in the house and builds a scarecrow in the farm to frighten wild beasts away, until the father returns. With the appearance of the father Bashoo stays away and watches their meeting from distance. But the mother does not despair of her efforts and spread her support umbrella over the orphan. This time Bashoo is no more a stranger but feels a child among father, mother and her younger brother and sister in his own family and country.
The Kimia of the war
By producing his Kimia, Ahmad Reza Darvish speaks about the boldness of a woman. When Khorramshahr was besieged by the enemy Reza takes his pregnant wife to the hospital but due to many wounded soldiers from the battle, she was refused. However Reza begs a female doctor to help his wife. While the hospital was being shelled and dust and broken pieces of glass fell on her head and body, Shokooh, the doctor, brings Kimia into the world and immediately after her delivery the ceiling of the operating room collapses.
In a place that every person is struggling with death, and the life of a child seems of little importance, Kimia starts her life unaware that her mother has died under the operation. Reza who had gone to fetch a car to take her wife and child home is taken as a prisoner by the enemy and Shokooh who had the infant in her hand suddenly hears about the death of her husband. Bombardments and other events occur so suddenly and successively that the woman has no time even to shed tears. She seizes the infant and flies towards another town. The enemy enters the city and an Iraqi tank pursues Shokooh, but amid fear and excitement she succeeds to save the infant from death and give a new life to the child.
One of the pathetic scenes in Kimia is demonstration of motherly compassion when the infant cries from hunger and Shokooh has no other thing in her hand but to wet her finger in the water and put it into the mouth of the infant and let her suck.
From that moment onward the film has a double meaning. In the former part the film concentrates merely on battle, but now it zooms on the sentimental issues after the war, although the general aim of the film is to show the self-sacrifice of a woman during the siege of Khorramshahr who helps a creature to survive. Shokooh goes to her brother and resumes her work. She has saved Kimia from death, has suffered since her birth like a true mother and raised her as her own child and finally after 9 years, Reza is released and returns home.
Everybody in the railway station is searching for his loved one but Reza is lonely and nobody waits for him. Reza who is a teacher, first visits the ruined school which had remained demolished. Then he inquires about his wife and child and at last succeeds to find Shokooh. The doctor grows angry to hear that Kimia must return to her father because she had thought Reza was dead and for that reason she had wholeheartedly fell in love with Kimia as her own child. A separation is very painful for Shokooh but she has no other course to follow. She prepares Kimia to deliver her to her father but Reza who has understood the facts and observed that Kimia is leading a tranquil and happy life under the motherly protection of Shokooh, relinquishes her demand and asks Shokooh to raise and educate Kimia, and after giving Kimia a present he leaves the child to her step-mother. Despite Shokooh's ardent love for Kimia and the spirit of sacrifice of a freed prisoner of war, the spectator is bewildered as to which of them Kimia belongs and who should be the true guardian of the child - a father with whose non-existence Kimia would not have been born or a doctor in whose absence Kimia would have died? But the film director tries his best to save the film form cliche featuring and allows it to flow its natural course of events because Kimia is a symbol of life and construction after the war and belongs to all parents who have lost their wives and children during the war.
We hope our future cinema will again witness female boldness, sagacity, love of culture, self-sacrifice, faith, kindness, friendship and patience under chaste, committed and talented female film-makers.