Iranian director Majid Majidi (1959) debuted with Baduk (1992), a desperate story about poor exploited children and evil greedy business people.
It is also an international intrigue, except that the protagonists are
children, not secret agents.
The film mocks the heroic act of the child protagonist: he manages to outsmart all the adults in three countries, but he is on the wrong trail, and simply moves further away from the sister that he is trying to save.
The film is set in the desert at the border with Pakistan.
Jafar and his sister Jamal work with their widowed father in the desert.
He is convinced that he will find something and keeps digging his well.
Neighbors come to ask him to join them but he refuses.
The neighbors leave and the family resumes its hard work.
Just when the man seems to have find something, the sandy mine collapses.
The children run to the village calling for help but there's nobody.
They sleep alone and in the morning they start walking in the desert.
A truck driver picks them up and takes them to a market where he sells
them to a merchant, Sattar, who examines them like they were horses.
Sattar decides to keep the girl for himself and sells the boy to another
merchant, Abdullah, who hires "baduks",
children who carry smuggled merchandise from the border on foot.
Jafar tries in vain to resist. Sattar drives away with his sister Jamal.
Jafar is kept as a slave in Abdullah's basement with other children.
In the morning Yusuf,
the older child, distributes a meager breakfast to the
children who are then dispatched to carry out their duties.
Abdullah entrusts Jafar to Yusuf, but Jafar runs immediately away.
Jafar looks for Sattar. Jafar chases a man on a motorcycle
thinking he is Sattar but he's wrong.
Jafar wanders in the alleys until evening when it starts pouring rain.
he has no choice but to return to Abdullah. Abdullah doesn't punish him:
he tells him that any child who tries to escape either returns of his own
will or is brought back.
The following day he begins to work as a smuggler, taken to the fenced border on a pickup truck with all the other children.
Abdullah then sells the goods that the children bring back.
Jafar strikes a friendship with a Pakistani boy on the other side of the barbed wire.
The friend searches for his sister Jamal but his father wants him to go to
school. He tells Jafar that school is paid for and helps children stay out of the streets. The school has a Saudi headmaster.
Jafar remembers that their father said the same before their mother died.
Abdullah traffics in both young girls (for
Khalid, the headmaster of a Saudi school in Pakistan) and drugs.
When Yusuf has an argument with Abdullah, due to the fact that Abdullah's
customer Ghafoor has stolen some of the drugs, Jafar asks Yusuf to help him find out where they took Jamal.
In the middle of the night Yusuf wakes uo Jafar and tells him that Khalid is the one who has Jamal, and to get to Khalid he has to find Ghafoor.
They are interrupted when Abdullah and a helper grab Yusuf and strangle him,
punishment for his rebellion.
The following morning Abdullah coldly informs the children that Yusuf has left and won't return.
Jafar finds Ghafoor in a poor neighborhood.
Ghafoor has been beaten badly by Abdullah for stealing the drugs but luckily he
is one of Jafar's old neighbors, one of the men who tried to convince his father to leave the desert, and promises to help him meet with Khalid who is in Pakistan but frequently visits the border.
When they travel to the border, however, they are caught in a violent sand storm that kills Ghafoor's donkey, a big loss for a poor family.
Jafar has a new idea: he writes to Narrudin, the Pakistani boy who attends a Saudi school, hoping that his headmaster is Khalid.
Narrudin shows up at the border not because he received the letter but because he ran away from school.
They are interrupted by a police raid.
Whenever the police raids the border, all the smugglers start running away, some on
camels, some on bicycles and some on foot.
This time the police arrest quite a few of them, including Jafar.
While in jail, Jafar overhears the story of a
man who accidentally killed a person while driving. The man mentions that
an agent called Samad was hired to get him into Pakistan.
Released, Jafar is scolded by Abdullah for ruining some of the goods.
That night Jafar gets up while Abdullah is on the phone in his room,
breaks the door of the safe, steals the money, accidentally sets fire to the shop, and helps all the children to escape.
Jafar runs away while the flames are engulfing the shop and Abdullah is screaming that he is ruined, and runs to the border where he looks for Samad.
He offers the money to Samad to take him to Pakistan.
Samad stops at a teahouse and, while Jafar is distracted, rides away with his money.
The other men at the teahouse laugh at him, so naive and gullible.
But they also tell him that a baduk can easily enter Pakistan.
At night he follows the other children who lift the barbed wire and sneak under it.
Narrudin has found Khalid. They borrow the motorcycle of a friend and ride
through the desert, two children on a motorcycle, until they rich a big compound.
Narrudin translates for Jafar that he has a message for Khalid from Abdullah.
Jafar asks Khalid for Sattar's address. Khalid gives it to him but then alerts
Sattar by phone: Sattar knows that Jafar has escaped and wants to return him to Abdullah.
Jafar is easily captured when he approaches Sattar's home and is taken inside.
Narrudin overhears the men talk about 40 captive girls and see several of them
carried away in the back of a pickup truck towards the port.
Narrudin frees Jafar, together they free the girls left in the house, and then
they head to the port where the other girls are being delivered to the Saudis
in a big boat.
Jafar jumps onto a small boat and starts rowing towards the big boat.
He climbs on the big boat and leaves in it as a stowaway while Narrudin watches
Presumably the big boat is headed for Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Abdullah tells someone that Jafar cannot be found but the search continues. Then the camera shows us to whom he is talking: Jamal!
Jafar is on his way to Saudi Arabia, looking for his sister, whereas his sister is still in Iran.
Bacheha-ye-Aseman/ Children of Heaven (1997) defines the archetype
of Majidi's cinema: a film that is a
poem to poverty as viewed from the eyes of children.
A simple pair of shoes becomes a matter of life or death.
Poverty has not been so romantic since the heydays of Charlie Chaplin.
Majidi makes a point of not providing an ending (whether happy or not):
poverty will go on.
In a poor neighborhood a cobbler is repaiting a pair of pink shoes.
A boy, Ali, pays for it and takes them in a black bag. He then stops to buy fruit
and vegetables and leaves the bag outside. A man who picks up garbage
mistakenly throws them on his cart and takes off. The boy is desperate:
they are the shoes of his little sister Zahra. He gets home
while his mother is having an argument with the landlord because she hasn't
paid rent in three months and consumes too much water. His sister has been
eagerly awaiting for her shoes and he is ashamed to tell her what happened.
She cries and asks how she can go to school without shoes. Ali goes back to the
shop and roams the street looking for the shoes. When he finally returns home,
he finds his father angry at him for not helping his mother. His father tells
him that he is not a child anymore: at the age of nine he's expected to help
his parents, not to play. Their mother is sick and the parents discuss whether
she should have surgery or not (the father is wary of surgeries) while the two
children pretend to do their homework but instead are exchanging messages about
what to do: Ali begs Zarah not to tell their father, a humble tea maker
who obviously doesn't have money to buy new shoes.
Ali comes up with an idea: since they have different shifts, Zarah can wear
his sneakers to go to her school in the morning and then he can wear the same
shoes to go to his school in the afternoon. As fast as the girl runs, she
can't get home in time for Ali to get to his class in time.
The following day Zahra leaves class as soon as she can and runs as fast
as she can, but she drops a shoe in a gutter and loses it. By the time a
man helps her retrieve it, it's so late that Ali will be terribly late at
school. In fact, this time the principal stops him and tries to find out what
is going on. In class, however, Ali does so well that the teacher gives him
a present: a nice pen. Ali runs home and gives the pen to Zahra, a way to
bribe her now that she's losing faith in the shoe-sharing scheme. On the way
to school she stares at a shoe shop's window. In the schoolyard she stares
at the shoes of the other girls. One girl wears pink shoes that look just like
her old shoes. Zahra follows her after school in the narrow alleys of
the shantytown. Alas, this means that she's late again at bringing the shoes
to her brother and Ali is late again for school. This time the principal wants
to send him home, but the teacher happens to be nearby and vouch for the kid.
Later Zahra takes Ali to the house where her pink shoes are. They see that
she has a blind father and don't find the guts to claim the shoes.
During the weekend his father has the idea to start a new business: gardener.
He takes Ali and rides the bicycle to a righ neighborhood. They ring every
bell trying to find a family that needs a gardener. Eventually a little girl
who needs company helps them get a job from her grandfather, and in return
Ali has to play with her while his father works around the house.
The father is shocked by the amount of money that the family pays him (without
him even asking). The man is already dreaming of buying all sorts of things
that they have never had but reality strikes again: on the way home the brakes
of the bicycle fail and they crash against a tree. And at home the sick mother
is harassed again by the landlord.
Meamwhile, the sneakers are wearing out, being used by two kids at the same
time, who run like maniacs all the time.
Ironically the blind man has decided to buy new shoes for his daughter
and throws away the pink ones, Zarah's old shoes (he purchases the new shoes
just when Zahra's father is passing in front of the shop).
One day at school Ali hears an announcement: the third prize for a running race is
a pair of sneakers. Because of all the running that Ali has done to get to
school in time, he is in great shape. He realizes it is his golden chance and
in fact impresses the teacher in charge of the selection who accepts him even
if the deadline has already expired. Sure enough he wins the race. But he didn't
want to win, he wanted to get third. He is almost crying when he is given the
gold medal and the winner's cup. The shoes are completely destroyed and
his feet are bleeding. (But his father may have already bought a pair of
new shoes for each child).
Rang e Khoda/ Color Of Paradise (1999) is a moving parable that hides layers of
meanings. On the surface, it is lyrical and almost oneiric film that sets
the tragic story of a peasant's ordeal against the background of a lush
countryside. Nature's beauty turns into man's greatest and fatal enemy, while
what initially looked like the tragedy of a child slowly mutates into the
tragedy of an adult. Everything in the film is different from what it
initially seems to be:
the cruel father turns out to be a Shakespearian figure, a good
hard-working man who has been the victim of an unfair destiny, and the
natural wonders of the countryside turn out to be the trap that cause his
greatest misery. The man loses everything: his mother, his betrothed,
his son and his faith in god.
He will be alone for the rest of his life, with nobody to support him when
he gets old.
The film begins with a motto: "You are both seen and unseen".
Mohammad is one of the pupils in a school for handicapped children .
He is blind and he has learned to read the Braille alphabet.
School's over and the children dress up and pack. Their parents come to pick
them up. Everybody except Mohammad's father. The teacher tries to reassure
Mohammad, who feels abandoned. While he waits, Mohammad plays in the garden.
He finds a young bird that fell from the nest. Mohammad climbs the tree and
puts the bird back in the nest. His fingers always touch things, like he
was reading a Braille message in everything.
At the same time the film is the tender and metaphysical story of an almost
miraculous child, whose prodigious intelligence allows him to read Braille
texts faster and better than children read with their eyes. This blind child
develops a keen affection for nature, and turns the sense of touching into
a sense of penetrating the divine essence of things.
His epic is completely different. As people shun him, including his own father,
he gets closer and closer to god. He literally "reads" god in everything he
touches, whether sand or feathers. When he lies dead in his father's arms,
we see his fingers moving: he's reading god.
His father's story is a story of moving farther from god. The child's story
is a story of moving closer to god. Nature is the father's nemesis, nature is
the child's paradise.
Another nuance in the film is the relationship of the two men with the women
(sisters and grandmother):
the father, who supports the women, is not loved, merely respected; the child,
who loves them even if he cannot help them materially, is loved by them and
loves them. They are part of nature, cruel to the father and paradise to the
Finally, there is the loud noise that the father hears whenever he thinks
of getting rid of the son. The father is scared when he hears the noise, as
if he was hearing his own thoughts.
The father has arrived and watches the child without speaking. Then he walks
inside the school and begs the teacher to keep the child, as he has no time
to take care of him and the mother died. The teacher explains that the school
is now closed and there is nobody who can help him solve his personal problems.
The father takes the child back home on a long journey through the countryside.
They live in a village surrounded by green hills. The child is happy to be back
home. Even if he doesn't see, he starts running towards home and is particularly
excited at the idea of hugging his grandmother. The little sisters are also
happy to see him and they take him to the farm, where their grandmother is
working. The old woman is moved by the grandson, whom she obviously loves
very much. Mohammad is a good child, who loves everybody and is happy to be
back among the people who love him. The only one who doesn't show any
affection is his father. While he is shaving, he hears a loud noise of a bird
and cuts himself.
The father's plan is to marry again. He is in love with a girl whose parents
he courts with visits and presents. A wife would solve his problems.
The father works very hard around the house and the farm. He is the only
useful man in the family, as Mohammad is blind.
Mohammad enjoys his vacation. He listens to the woodpeckers and his fingertips
are always touching things. And of course he plays in the fields with his
sisters. When they go to school, he cries because he wants to go with them,
and his grandmother begs the teacher to take him. The teacher welcomes him
in the humble room and is shocked to find out that Mohammad can read better
than the other children (they all look over Mohammad's shoulder while his
fingers scan the Braille text). Notwithstanding Mohammad's success, the father
gets very angry when he learned of this escapade: Mohammad has to qualify as
an handicapped child, otherwise the institute will not take him back next
season. He decides to take him away from the grandmother. So the child has to
follow the father to the beach, where the father is employed with other men.
They camp in the nearby wood. The child plays with the sand and talks to the
seagulls. In the evening the father sees Mohammad walk in the wrong direction
and doesn't stop him... again we hear the loud noise... but then someone sends
the child back.
His idyllic life
with the sisters and the grandmother comes to an end when the father takes him
on another long trip, this time to a blind carpenter who has accepted to train
him in the profession. The child can finally confess his mood to someone who
understands him. Mohammad knows that society shuns him and his only comfort
is that he can read god in everything with his fingertips.
Upon returning to the farm, the father meets the hostile look of his mother.
In vain he explains that he is a lonely man, victim of so many tragedies.
The old woman walks out under the rain and leaves the farm. The man chases
her and convinces her to come back, but the mother will not speak again,
only pray in bed. When the father offers to bring back the child, the mother
tells hims that she's worried for him, the father, not for the child.
Then she dies. The child feels it in the air, as if the birds told him, or
the mist told him.
This is considered bad omen and after the funeral the father of the betrothed
cancels the wedding. The man has to carry on, alone. He goes to fetch Mohammad,
and the child is not happy to see him. We hear again the loud noise.
The two travel back to the village with a horse, in a landscape enveloped in
mist. While crossing a bridge, the bridge collapsed and the horse and the
child fall in the water. The father's anxiety seems to be mainly for the horse,
but then he realized that the child is being carried away by the rapids.
The man jumps in the rapids and slides down, in a vain chase of his son.
The man wakes up on the beach. The corpse of his son is nearby. The father cries
as he hugs the corpse. We see that the fingertips are still moving, as if the
child is reading something in the air.
Color Of Paradise (1999) e' una toccante parabola che nasconde strati di significato. Sulla superficie il film e'
ricco di sentimento e onirico e narra la storia tragica
di un contadino e della sua sofferenza ambientato in una lussureggiante campagna
La bellezza della natura si trasforma nel piu' grande e fatale nemico dell'uomo
mentre cio' che inizialmente sembrava la tragedia di un bambino lentamente diventa
la tragedia di un adulto. Nel film tutto e' diverso da come sembra essere all'inizio:
il padre crudele si trasforma in una figura shakespeariana, un buon
lavoratore, vittima di un destino ingiusto, e le meraviglie
naturali della campagna diventano la causa del suo piu' grande tormento.
L'uomo perde tutto: la madre, la futura moglie, il figlio e la fede in dio.
Restera' solo per il resto della sua vita, senza nessuno che possa aiutarlo quando diventera' vecchio.
Il film e' nel contempo la storia tenera e soprannaturale di uno straordinario bambino
la cui prodigiosa intelligenza gli permette di leggere un testo in Braille
piu' velocemente e meglio di quanto i bambini normali sappiano fare.Questo bambino cieco
sviluppa un affetto profondo per la natura, e trasforma la sua capacita' di toccare in quella di penetrare fino all'essenza
La sua epopea e' diversa. Se la gente lo emargina, incluso suo padre, egli si avvicina sempre di piu' a dio. Egli "legge"
letteralmente dio in tutto cio' che tocca,
sia che si tratti di sabbia o piume. Quando si trova tra le braccia del padre
si vedono le sue dita muoversi: sta leggendo dio.
La storia del padre e' una storia di un allontanamento da dio. La storia del bambino
e' una storia di un avvicinamento a dio. La natura e' la nemesi per il padre; la natura e'
il paradiso per il figlio.
Un'altra sfumatura del film e' la relazione dei due personaggi con le donne
(le sorelle e la nonna):
il padre, che matiene le donne, non e' amato da loro, ma soltanto rispettato; il bambino
che le ama anche se non puo' aiutarle concretamente, le ama ed e' corrisposto
Esse fanno parte della natura che rappresenta crudelta' per il padre e paradiso per il
Alla fine, il padre sente un forte frastuono mentre pensa di liberarsi del figlio.
Il padre e' spaventato da quel rumore come se stesse sentendo il flusso dei suoi pensieri.
Il film inizia con un motto: "Tu sei visto e non visto".
Mohammad e' uno degli alunni di una scuola per bambini disabili.
E' cieco e ha imparato a leggere l'alfabeto Braille.
La scuola finisce, i bambini si preparano e raccolgono le loro cose. I loro genitori
vengono a prenderli. Tutti tranne il padre di Mohammad. L'insegnate tenta di rassicurare
Mohammad, che si sente abbandonato. Mentre aspetta, Mohammad gioca in giardino.
Trova un uccellino che e' caduto da nido. Mohammad si arrampica sull'albero
e rimette l'uccellino nel nido. Le sue dita continuano a toccate le cose, come se egli
leggesse un messaggio Braille in ogni cosa.
Il padre arriva e osserva il bambino senza dire nulla. Poi entra nella scuola
e supplica l'insegante di prendersi lei cura del bambino, in quanto l'uomo non ha tempo di badare a lui dopo la morte
della madre. L'insegnante spiega che la scuola e' ormai finita
e non c'e' piu' nessuno che possa aiutarlo a risolvere i suoi problemi personali.
Il padre porta il bambino a casa attraverso un lungo viaggio nella campagna.
Vivono in un villaggio circondato da verdi colline. Il bambino e' contento di essere tornato a
casa. Anche se non puo' vedere, comincia a correre verso casa particolarmente
eccitato all'idea di abbracciare la nonna. Anche le sue sorelline
sono felici di vederlo e lo portano alla fattoria dove lavora la nonna.
L'anziana donna e' commossa nel vedere il nipote, che indubbiamente ama
molto. Mohammad e' un bravo bambino, che ama tutti ed e' felice di essere
tornato dalle persone che lo amano. L'unico che non mostra alcun affetto e' suo padre.
Un giorno mentre si stava radendo il padre sente un forte frastuono di uccelli
e si taglia.
Il progetto del padre e' quello di risposarsi. E' innamorato di una ragazza e egli corteggia
i genitori con visite e regali. Una moglie risolverebbe i suoi problemi.
Il padre lavora molto duramente tra casa e fattoria. E' l'unico uomo della famiglia
che possa rendersi utile, poiche' Mohammad e' cieco.
Mohammad si diverte durante le vacanze. Ascolta i picchi e con la punta delle dita
tocca ogni cosa. Gioca anche nei campi con le sue sorelle.
Quando loro vanno a a scuola, lui piange perche' vuole andare con loro,
e sua nonna supplica l'insegnate di tenerselo. L'insegnante lo ospita in una stanza modesta
e rimane stupita nel vedere che Mohammad sa leggere
meglio di ogni altro bambino (tutti restano li' a osservare Mohammad mentre scandisce con le
dita un testo in Braille). Nonostante il successo di Mohammad, il padre
si arrabbia molto quando viene a sapere della sua fuga: Mohammad e' un
bambino disabile, ma l'istituto non lo riospitera' piu' la prossima stagione. Il padre decide di portarlo via dalla nonna.
Cosi' il bambino deve seguire
il padre sulla spiaggia, dove lavora insieme ad un altro operaio.
Si accampano vicino al bosco. Il bambino gioca con la sabbia e con i
gabbiani.Una sera il padre vede Mohammad camminare nella direzione sbagliata
ma non lo ferma... di nuovo un forte frastuono... ma qualcuno riporta indietro il bambino.
La sua vita idilliaca
con le sorelle e la nonna finisce quando il padre porta il bambino
a fare un lungo viaggio, questa volta pero' da un carpentiere cieco che accetta di
insegnargli il mestiere. Il bambino puo'alla fine confessare il suo stato d'animo
a qualcuno che lo capisce. Mohammad sa che la gente lo emargina e il suo unico conforto
e' quello di poter leggere dio in tutto cio' che tocca con la punta delle dita.
Al suo ritorno alla fattoria, il padre si scontra con l'ostilita' della madre.
Egli spiega invano di essere un uomo solo, una vittima di infinite tragedie.
L'anziana donna esce sotto la pioggia e abbandona la fattoria. L'uomo la insegue
e cerca di convincerla a tornare indietro, ma la donna non parlera' piu',
preghera' soltanto nel letto. Quando il padre si offre di andare a riprendersi il figlio,
la madre confessa di essere preoccupata per lui, il padre, non per il bambino.
Poi muore. Il bambino lo sente nall'aria, come se gli uccelli o la nebbia glielo avessero
Questo fatto e' considerato di cattivo auspicio e dopo il funerale il padre
della futura moglia annulla il matrimonio. L'uomo dovra' tirare avanti da solo. Va a cercare
Mohammad ma il bambino non e' felice di vederlo. Si sente di nuovo un forte frastuono.
I due ritornano al villaggio a cavallo, in un paesaggio avvolto dalla nebbia.
Attraversando il ponte, quest'ultimo crolla e sia il cavallo che il bambino
cadono nell'acqua. Il padre sembra piu' preoccupato per il cavallo che per il bambino
ma poi si accorge che il bambino sta per essere portato via dalla corrente.
L'uomo si tuffa nel fiume e scivola giu', nel vano tentativo di rincorrere il bambino.
L'uomo si sveglia sulla spiaggia. Il corpo del bambino vicino a se'. Il padre piange
mentre lo stringe tra le braccia. Si vedono le dita del bambino muoversi, come se stesse
leggendo qualcosa nell'aria.
The mystical overtones of Color of Paradise are retained in
Beed-e Majnoon/ The Willow Tree (2005) , but the setting is urban
and the protagonist is a middle-aged man. The destiny is also upside down:
this time the blind regains his eyesight, and instead of touching divine
goodness he witnesses human evil, especially inside himself.
God's gift becomes a temptation that destroys. The man says very little
to help understand his thoughts. The film is mostly a wordless
journey into the obscure and terrifying labirynth of the human psyche.
A 45-year-old university professor of litearture,
Youssef, who can only communicate in the language of the blind,
is a scholar in the poetry of Rumi. He has a loving wife Roya who types for him
and a loving little daughter. One day the wind blows away the papers that he
is reading. His wife rushes to collect them in the garden. He tries to save
the ones still on the table but the collapses. Later we see his wife staring
at him lying on a hospital bed. He talks to God in angry terms: he has already
taken from him the beauty of the world and now he's sending him this illness.
An uncle arranges for the professor to fly to France where a friend will help
get a test and an operation. The test reveals a dangerous tumor under the eye.
The test brings encouraging news: the tumor is benign and
a cornea transplant should be possible
and the professor would be able to see again.
Another Iranian patient at the same clinic befriends him, Morteza, and takes
him for a walk in the woods.
The professor now thanks God for not having abandoned him.
The operation succeeds and the professor flies back home. A festive crowd
welcomes him at the airport. He is so moved that he stares
petrified at all those faces.
He doesn't seem happy though. He has to relearn everything (presumably even
the faces of his wife and his daughter). He looks at everything with a look
in between melancholy and puzzled. On the subway he spots a pickpocket stealing
a wallet and doesn't react: the pickpocket winks (as if thanking him) and runs
away with the wallet. He is rude to his wife and quits his job
at the university. His wife invites him to help them at the school for the
blind but, when he walks into a class and sees all those blind children and
the blind teacher, he runs away panicking.
His wife sees that he is still reading braille even though he could read
While his wife and daughter are outside seeding the flower garden, the phone
rings and he hears on the answering machine the voice of a young relative of
his wife, Pari, asking about the thesis she left for the professor to read it, but he
doesn't pick up the phone and doesn't return the call. We see him literally
disappear at the end of a day of wandering around as he walks up a staircase
in the dark.
He seems physically attracted to Pari. He waits for her in the rain with her
thesis and a red rose but then
hides when he sees her with a male companion. He walks away slowly alone.
What he doesn't know is that his wife has followed him and has witnessed the
whole scene. His wife leaves with their child after telling his mother.
His mother now confronts him, and in a fit of rage he yells at her that he is
tired of the life he used to live, a life confined to his family and his house,
and that now he wants to live a real life. His mother leaves him too.
He was happier and made everybody happier when he was blind.
He sees Pari in the subway but doesn't talk to her. His heartbroken mother is
taken to the hospital. His uncle scolds him and invites him to join his jewelry
workshop. The former professor has been doing nothing at home since the
operation. Instead, when he gets home, the former professor throws all his books
and manuscripts out of the window and then sets fire to them as well as to
the family photos. Then he notices something in the ashes: a letter written to
him by Morteza. Morteza is going blind and tells him how many beautiful things
he can see now that he's getting blind. Suddenly the professor's eyes fail
and all he sees is black. He lost his eyesight again. His uncle tries to
reassure him that another operation will solve the problem, but an ever
more unpredictable professor gets off the car in the middle of a congested
road and walks away, physically pushing aways his uncle while hitting cars
right and left. He falls into a ditch and continues walking all wet and
filthy through the crowded streets of the city. It gets night, it starts raining.
He falls crying to the ground. He walks back home in the middle of the night
and tries to salvage his briefcase from the pond where he threw it.
It contains the manuscript of Rumi's poems in braille. He reads with his
fingers the lines in which the poet begs God for a second chance.
An ant crawls slowly across the page.
Avaze Gonjeshk Ha/ Song of Sparrows (2008) is a simple
allegory, but delivered with the usual empathy for the plight of ordinary
people. The ostrich represents the innocence of the protagonist, a good
hard-working family man who one day loses it and slowly turns into a
He finds the ostrich again when he finds his innocence again,
and that involves a personal accident that confines him to his bed from
which he can see the world around him.
Karim, a worker at at an ostrich farm, is busy as usual with the animals
when a friend tells him to go home because his daughter lost her
hearing aid in a cistern. Karim rides his motorcycle home and finds a lot of
kids in the cistern. His little son Hussein is one of them: they think they can find
fish in the filthy water of the cistern. They look for the hearing aid until
they find it. The girl, Haniyeh, pretends that the hearing aid is still
working but the father easily finds out that she is lying. Now he needs money
to have it repaired in time for Haniyeh's exams that are coming up.
His little son, meanwhile, tells him
of a project to clean up the water of the cistern and then throw goldfish into
the water so that the fish will multiply quickly.
Karim scorns the idea.
One of the ostriches escapes from the ranch.
Karim rides his motorcycle all over the semi-desertic land and eventually finds
it. Karim wears a camouflage to look like an ostrich himself,
but the animal does not fall into the trap. When Karim returns
to the ranch, he finds his belonging already packed outside the front door:
he has been fired. He brings gift to his family and pretends that he quit
because he didn't like his job, Then he travels on his motorcycle to the
capital to see if i can have the hearing aid repaired quickly. On the way
he picks up a man whose truck broke down. The man tells him that ostrich eggs
have been spotted on the hills. In the capital Karim is told that it will take
four months to fix his daughter's hearing aid. His other option is to buy
a used one, but it is too expensive for him.
As he walks out of the building, a businessman mistakes him for a motorcycle
taxi and gets on his motorcycle. Karim rides him to his destination and
realizes that he can make money just taking people from one place to another
in the big city. The following day he does it nonstop, meeting all sorts of
poeple. Some are just very busy businessmen, some are scoundrels.
He also found out that in the city there are many construction sites where
valuable material is being dumped and, on the way home, he loads his bicycle
every night. He gets very busy but still finds time to say his prayers.
An ostrich in a shop reminds him or the loose ostrich who must be roaming
the desert. His son and the other children are indeed cleaning the cistern.
When Karim catches them, he gets mad at them. But the child is stubborn.
One day he gives a ride to a wealthy man who is moving into a
a multi-storey house, and then drives home with even more stuff on his bike.
Every day he brings home something so the house becomes a warehouse.
And he becomes selfish: when his wife gifts a door to a neighbor, Karim
rudely walks there and takes the door back, causing his wife to weep of shame.
One day he has a chance to steal a refrigerator, he can't resist the temptation
and tries to sell it. He fails, and then,
upon seeing a truck full of ostriches,
he returns it, but obviously he is no longer so innocent, and, in fact,
later he cheats a street girl of little change.
He has forgotten about his daughter's hearing aid, that was the whole point
of making money.
On the way home he catches his son and his friends selling flowers on the
highway, and even his deaf daughter is there. They are trying to raise
money to buy fish for the cistern. Karim, furious, grabs a pick and is about
to destroy the cistern but then he stops, amazed that the children did
clear the water. He forgives his children but keeps accumulating stuff in
the courtyard. One day the whole giant pile of garbage collapses on him
and breaks his leg.
Lying in bed, he hears that a neighbor found an ostrich egg behind her house.
He is moved to tears by how affectionate his extended family is.
His little son is now the breadwinner, working in the fields with the other
One night Karim overhears his son begging his mom to let him buy the fish that
a man is about to sell.
The children get the fish that they have wanted all the time.
The fish are in a barrel when the children deliver some plants to a nursery.
The children have to throw away the plants in order to get to the barrel,
and Karim shouts terrified that they are destroying the precious merchandise
(but can't move because his leg is still bad).
The children try in vain to salvage the barrel but instead drop it and it
breaks, releasing all the fish on the street.
The children stare heartbroken as the fish start dying on the asphalt.
Their dream is shattered. They start crying. Then Hussein starts sweeping
the fish towards a nearby ditch so that they won't die. They keep only one
fish in a plastic bag. Karim, proud of them, makes the children smile as they drive back in the truck. When they reach home, the children run immediately to
the cistern and release the one and only fish they still have.
Karim is still confined in his room. One day he sees a sparrow that has been
trapped inside the house and crawls to open the door for it.
His old friend and coworker comes to visit him and tells him that the ostrich
has been found. Karim is transfixed. When his leg heals, Karim rides the
motorcycle to the ranch and stares at the ostriches and smiles.