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  He (Moshen Makhmalbaf) Was Walking a Perilous Line

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Author Topic:   He (Moshen Makhmalbaf) Was Walking a Perilous Line
posted June 02, 2001 11:20     Click Here to See the Profile for Shahrzad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The New York Times
June 1, 2001

o get acquainted with a filmmaker as intellectually mercurial as the Iranian Moshen Makhmalbaf, one needs a good block of his work. A half-dozen Makhmalbaf films released on videotape this week by Facets
International only begin to provide a grasp.
"Boycott" (1985) is a harrowing tale of imprisonment set in the repressive last days of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and before the repression of the Islamic revolution. Even more disturbing, "Marriage of the Blessed" (1989), follows a shell-shocked photographer's return to a society sent reeling by the Iran-Iraq war. "The Actor" (1993) is an often hilarious comedy about a well- known actor's attempts to mollify his anxiety-ridden wife who has become nearly hysterical over her inability to bear a child. "Images From the Qajar Dynasty" and "The School Blown Away by the Wind" are whimsical shorts about, respectively, the ruling family of Persia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and education as meted out to small
children in a stony but inviting desert. The series also includes the Makhmalbaf feature films "The Peddler"(1985), about the poor in contemporary Tehran; "The Cyclist" (1989), about an endless bike ride reminiscent of a dance marathon; and "Once Upon a Time, Cinema" (1992), a comedy about a Chaplinesque cinematographer. Each film is a totally involving if occasionally uncomfortable experience. So is the story of Mr. Makhmalbaf, now 44, which is told in the documentary "Stardust Stricken, Moshen Makhmalbaf: A Portrait," also newly available. The most intriguing question is how a director with such strongly critical views of culture and society walks the line between turning out compelling films and a censorious and dangerous regime that has frequently banned them. The answer seems to be that if filmmakers have immersed themselves in all things Iranian while avoiding westernization, they can get along, albeit with extreme difficulty. After his anti-Shah days, Mr. Makhmalbaf was solidly pro-revolution, at least for a while. One of Iran's leading directors (along with Abbas
Kiarostami, Dariush Mehrjui, Jafar Panahi and Majid Majidi), he was born in 1957 and had a rather standard middle-class existence until his anti-Shah activism landed him in prison. In the documentary he discusses how exposure to the prison culture shaped his religious, political and philosophical views — until they changed again, that is. His filmmaking in the late 80's and early 90's was roughly divided into four periods. "Boycott," which stars Mr. Majidi as a prison inmate modeled
after Mr. Makhmalbaf, was his last revolutionary film. "Marriage of the
Blessed" fell into his period of social criticism. His third phase was more artistic, and his fourth leaned to films revolving around the cinema itself. "The Actor" belongs to this era, not that comedy is much easier in Iran. "Those who cry have one problem," reads a prologue. "Those who laugh have a thousand and one."

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posted June 02, 2001 11:22     Click Here to See the Profile for Shahrzad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Learn more about Mohsen Makhmalbaf...

Makhmalbaf was in his younger age an Idealist fanatic activist, as like as most of the 1979 Revolutionaries. He was jailed, by the former "repressive" Iranian regime, after the fact that he wounded, with knife, a Policeman in a Bazaar. He will, later, create a movie in which he explains the reason of his blind attack. "I was dreaming to attack the Policeman in order to still his gun and with his gun to attack a Bank and with the Bank money to go to Africa to plant flowers in its desert..." Later, Makhmalbaf will became one of the Islamic Militia's brutal investigators and many rescapes of the Islamic jails will remember of him for their lifetimes.

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