Κυριακή, 1 Αυγούστου 2010

BARAN (2001).

Baran
Iran, Running time 94 minutes.
Directed & Produced by Majid Majidi
Written by Majid Majidi
Starring: Hossein Abedini, Zahra Bahrami, Mohammad Amir Naji, Abbas Rahimi, Gholam Ali Bakhshi.
Music by Ahmad Pejman
Distributed by Miramax Films
Awards: 2001 Grand Prix of the Americas Award for Best Film at the Montreal World Film Festival.
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Baran (Persian: باران ) is a 2001 Iranian film directed by Majid Majidi, based on an original script by Majid Majidi. The movie is set during recent times in which there are a large number of Afghan refugees living on the outskirts of Tehran. Almost a silent movie, Baran won a number of awards both nationally and internationally for the director and writer Majid Majidi.
The movie is about maturing of the character Lateef and his silent romantic interests in an Afghan refugee, Baran, in the construction site where he works. It is necessary to describe the work force at the site to fully appreciate the movie. At the point the story is told, in 2001, there are many Afghan refugees in Iran due to the war with Russia and also due to the oppressive regime of Taliban. There are many Afghan refugees working at the site for far less wages than the Iranian workers. In Iran, the Afghan refugees are not allowed to stay anywhere except the refugee camps unless authorized and hence the Afghan workers need to travel everyday from the camp to the work site. The Afghan refugees also need authorization cards to work in the country but it is difficult to obtain. Hence many of the Afghans are working illegally which is depicted in the movie.
Lateef, who is an Azeri-Iranian, is having an easy time at the construction site with the job of making tea and lunch. He always seems to be making witty remarks which are not taken by some of the other characters in a similar manner, especially Faraj. He is also shown to be very careful with his money and saves every single pocket money he gets. He is also shown to be intolerant towards doves. One day when Lateef comes to work he finds one of the Afghan workers, Najaf, has been injured and is being taken to the hospital. The next day, Najaf sends his son - Rahmat - to work, since he is unable to work with a broken leg and he has many children to take care of. Rahmat is a weakling and is unable to do to the heavy manual work at the construction site. Hence, the contractor, Memar, allocates Lateef's easy job to Rahmat and Lateef has to help with the construction of the building.
Lateef is sore about losing his comfy job and continuously torments Rahmat until he learns by accident that Rahmat is actually a girl. He is really sorry about his early acts and vehemently tries to be protective about Rahmat at the work site, trying to save her from Faraj and the inspectors. Memar is forced to lay off all his Afghan workers after an unfortunate incident and Lateef takes a leave to find out where Rahmat stays. There are many beautiful shots during his relentless attempts to find his love. He learns to be tolerant about doves and starts feeding the doves. He tries to give money to Rahamat's family to save them from their difficult times but it leads to Najaf's friend Sulton going back to Afghanistan. Lateef then sells his only possession, the ID-card to give Rahamat's family enough money to go back to Afghanistan (meanwhile he learns that Rahmat's real name is Baran). In the last scene, we see Lateef helping Najaf and Baran with the loading of their rented truck to Afghanistan. We can see the couple almost acknowledging their love through the rigid social constraints in Iran and, even more so, in Afghanistan, the homeland of Baran. Baran, which literally translates to rain, falls while Baran leaves to Afghanistan.
There are many references to Persian literary and mystical traditions. The storyline is similar to the mystical path one must follow to be united with the Beloved / Divine in Sufism, hereby enduring the reproach or "blame" of others (see also Malamatiyya). Another hint at the mystical path is Lateef's meeting of the Afghan shoemaker, who bears a striking similarity to the (conventional) depiction of the famous Sufi poet Rumi. Also the selling of the ID-card by Lateef, the protagonist, to raise money for Rahmat/Baran's family refers to losing one's identity in the quest for union. Other nods to Persian literature are the sight of the unattainable beloved in the reflection of the mirror (which Lateef caught in the room where Baran was preparing the tea), the feeding of the doves as a reference to Attar's famous work, "Parliament of the Birds" (Manteq aṭ-Ṭayr مقامات الطیور).

(part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10)
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