Download Masters & Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema PDF

TitleMasters & Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema
PublisherMage Publishers
ISBN 139780934211857
CategoryArts - Film
File Size12.7 MB
Total Pages461
Table of Contents
Introduction Letter to a Young Filmmaker
Forugh Farrokhzad The House Is Black
Ebrahim Golestan Mud Brick and Mirror
Dariush Mehrjui The Cow
Arby Ovanessian Spring
Bahman Farmanara Prince Ehtejab
Sohrab Shahid Sales Still Life
Amir Naderi The Runner
Bahram Beizai Bashu, the Little Stranger
Abbas Kiarostami Through the Olive Trees
Mohsen Makhmalbaf A Moment of Innocence
Marziyeh Meshkini The Day I Became a Woman
Jafar Panahi Crimson Gold
An Epistolary Conclusion
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Masters &
of Iranian

Hamid Dabashi

Forugh Farrokhzad The House Is Black Ebrahim Golestan Mud

Brick and Mirror Dariush Mehrjui The Cow Arby Ovanessian

Spring Bahman Farmanara Prince Ehtejab Sohrab Shahid

Sales Still Life Amir Naderi The Runner Bahram Beizai Bashu,

the Little Stranger Abbas Kiarostami Through the Olive "frees

Mohsen Makhmalbaf A Moment of Innocence Marziyeh

Meshkini The Day I Became a Woman Jafar Panahi Crimson Gold

Page 2


All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this
book, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced, stored in or
introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or
by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or
otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Dabashi, Hamid, 1951-
Masters & masterpieces of Iranian cinema / by Hamid Dabashi.

p. cm.
ISBN 0-934211-85-X (hardcover : alk. paper)
1. Motion pictures—Iran. 2. Motion picture producers and
directors—Iran—Biography. I. Tide. II. Tide: Masters and
masterpieces of Iranian cinema.

PN1993.5.I846D33 2007

Book design by Hugh MacDonald
The book is set in Akzidenz Grotesk and Janson

Mage books are available at bookstores or directly from the publisher.
Visit Mage on the Web at Call (202) 342-1642 or e-mail
[email protected] for a catalog.
mailto:[email protected]

Page 230

Masters & Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema

telling him to go and see the film, for they were running a test. Naderi
entered the cinema, which was pitch black, except for a couple of signs
under the screen, where the emergency exits were located. Naderi stood
in place for a while until his eyes got used to the darkness, and then grad-
ually felt his way toward a seat and sat down. Suddenly the whole screen
flooded with light as one reel of the film started rolling. Naderi was
flabbergasted at the sight of prehistoric humanoids, for this was not his
expectation of a space odyssey. He sat there for about an hour watching
that reel, and as soon as it was finished the whole theater was illumi-
nated, with flood lights, and Kubrick and his crew came out discussing
and debating one thing or another. They noticed Naderi, and Kubrick
asked him if he noticed anything wrong with the screening. Naderi, rec-
ognizing the problem, turned his back to Kubrick, pointed to the left of
his two ass cheeks, and said in a mix of sign language and Perglish that,
yes, one side of the screen was out of focus. Kubrick jumped in a combi-
nation of frustration and excitement, for he had been trying to convince
his crew of something to that effect, and here was Naderi, having come
all the way from Iran, confirming his suspicion. They gradually left the
theater, and Kubrick told the cashier lady to give Naderi a ticket, and
told him goodbye—leaving Naderi in a state of ecstatic shock with the
good-hearted cashier lady.

Manuchehr Jahanfar had told Naderi that in England cashiers have
a map of the seats, and that he could choose where he wanted to sit. So
Naderi went to the lady, pointed to the seat he wanted, and got his ticket.
He reached into his pockets to pay, and the cashier told him that the ticket
was courtesy of Stanley Kubrick. Naderi insisted, though, that he had to
pay because it was part of the bet. She relented, he reached for all the
coins and notes he had, and presented them to her. She looked and saw all
the strange currencies, from countries all the way from Turkey to France.
She told him that he had no English pounds and that he had to go to a
bank and change them. Naderi grabbed his money, left the theater, went
out into Leicester Square, found a bank, approached a teller, and once
again emptied the contents of his pockets, valiantly mustering the word
"change." The teller looked at the scattered currencies, pushed most of
them aside as worthless coins from Eastern Europe, collected all the West-
ern European money that he could find, and in exchange gave Naderi
somewhere around two English pounds. Naderi grabbed the money and
came out of the bank to find that there was now a long line forming in
front of the theater. He found the old lady, motioned toward her, and
gave her all the money he had, which was about two pounds. It was not
enough, but it was sufficient to satisfy, partially, the full price of the ticket,
which Naderi now remembers to be about three English pounds.


Page 231

Amir Naderi The Runner

Ticket triumphantly in hand, his belt back where it belonged, the
ecstatic joy of his encounter with Stanley Kubrick in his heart, and
the privilege of having helped him straighten out the left side of the
projection of his panoramic vision of humanity in space now achieved,
Naderi left the theater and found himself still in possession of a few
blessed pence. He spied and marched resolutely toward a cafe and bought
himself a cup of tea. He sat down, drank his tea, put his head on the table
to rest for a while, and fell fast asleep. (If this sounds a bit like Abbas
Kiarostami's 1974 movie Traveler, you'll have to ask Kiarostami for clari-
fication.) After a while, Naderi got up and walked hurriedly toward the
theater, and as he got nearer he saw that a group of young kids were
following after him, for by now the story of his encounter with Kubrick
had been spread all over Leicester Square by a young assistant to the
old cashier. Naderi chatted with these youngsters for a while, again with
variations on the theme of his Perglish letter, and then watched 2001:
A Space Odyssey from a preferred position, courtesy of Kubrick himself.
After the screening, the same youths and a few others gathered around
him asking for details of his meeting with Kubrick. Naderi repeated the
story, and the small audience that by then had amassed took a liking to
Kubrick's phrase "but who the hell is this Manuch, anyway." They had a
good laugh, and, according to Naderi, he managed to stay in London for
another four months, going from one party to another, retelling his story,
practicing his Perglish, while his audience got ready to burst into a cho-
rus at the opportune time: "But who the hell is this Manouch, anyway!"

Having seen 2001: A Space Odyssey and even met and chatted with Stanley
Kubrick himself, Naderi returned to Iran and made his directorial debut
in 1970 with Khoda Hafez Rafiq {Goodbye Friend, 1970), taking Tehran by
storm. A year after that he made Tangna (Deadlock, 1971). These two early
films established Naderi as a major new presence in Iranian cinema. Shot
in stark black and white, Goodbye Friend and Deadlock claimed Tehran (as
Naderi would later claim New York) almost as an intimate acquaintance.
No one since Ebrahim Golestan had captured the soul of the Iranian
capital with such vivid and memorable images. Naderi's vision had the
added advantage of having been dreamt and envisioned by a street-smart
intelligence entirely absent from Golestan's aesthetic. Thugs, money
launderers, pimps, prostitutes, thieves, and gamblers had never been cap-
tured in an Iranian film with such an easy and natural command. This is
the Tehran of the Pahlavi monarchy at the height of its power. The June
1963 uprising of Ayatollah Khomeini had been crushed, and the urban
guerilla movement of the 1970s was yet to commence. Iranian political
culture was in a state of social despair and political paralysis. But Naderi


Page 461

The publication of this book is made possible by two generous grants from
the University Seminar Fund and the Committee on Asian and Middle
Eastern Studies at Columbia University. I am grateful to my distinguished
colleagues Professors Robert Belknap and William Theodore de Bary,
and their respective committees, for their endorsement of my work.

My thanks to Mohammad Batmanglij go far beyond the ordinary
gratitude of an author to an editor. He has been the principal interloc-
utor of a much more elongated series of conversations, of which with
patience, grace, and panache he has masterfully carved out what you
have read in this book. To Mohammad and Najmieh Batmanglij goes my
sincerest gratitude for the grace of their company and the generosity of
their open arms. Other than these words I have no other way of showing
them how absolutely delighted I am they have included me among their
friends and authors in one of the most beautiful and praiseworthy pub-
lishing events in contemporary Iranian studies.

My former student Tahereh Hadian went through immense trou-
ble in Tehran locating for me the copies of the photos we have used as
illustrations in this book. To her and to Hbushang Golmakani, the dis-
tinguished editor of Film magazine, go my sincere thanks. I am equally
grateful to Mani Petgar for his generous permission to use the photo
from Amir Naderi's The Runner for the cover.

To Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Amir Naderi, Nikzad Nodjoumi, and Shi-
rin Neshat I owe a particular note of gratitude for the privilege of their
company, which has been the inspiration for my vision of what is sublime
and beautiful.

As always, my children, Kaveh and Pardis, my wife and colleague,
Golbarg Bashi, and my friends and colleagues at Columbia University
in New York are the principal sources of my hopes and aspirations—the
generosity and grace of their patience with me the clearest signs of what
is good about the world.

Hamid Dabashi
New York

December 2006

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