Imam Khomeini put Iranian cinema on track of ethics, productivity and spirituality

Imam Khomeini put Iranian cinema on track of ethics, productivity and spirituality

Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic put Iranian cinema on the track of ethics and directed them towards Humanistic approach.

Following the victory of Islamic Revolution under the wise leadership of Imam Khomeini, pundits believe that Iranian cinema was reborn, enhanced and touched upon several new perspectives of the society.    

After Imam’s endorsement of the movie Cow, Iranian cinema was continued based on the two priciplrd of Humanistic concepts, and Ethical approach. The two characteristics came together and gave birth to the new cinema of Iran; the cinema which tried to picture spiritual images free from empty mottos. A review on some of outstanding streams of Iranian cinema reveals success of film makers who cared about sublimity of human being.

Birth of a genre: The cinema of Sacred Defence

The eight years’ war of Iran and Iraq, bore an enormous difference with the classic wars of the world; a war that in Iranian side of frontlines had linked with Iranian people’s religious beliefs and was called Sacred Defence. So it was very natural of Iranian cinema not to be indifferent towards the important phenomenon of the war but it took years until a generation of film makers access the ability of discovering religious and national components and to get to a cinema calls Sacred Defence Cinema.

The first step was taken by “flying at night” (by Rasul Mollagholipur). After acceptance of [the war ending Security Council] sanction number 598 by Iran the film calls “sentinel” directed by Ibrahim Hatamikia was staged and a year later when the movie “Immigrant” from the same director got staged then the birth of the cinema of sacred defence could have been celebrated. In these two movies in spite both being known as war films but still the important factors of the movies for the film maker were the men involved in the war not acts and reacts seen on the war scene. In a well-known sequence of Sentinel the Iranian soldier who’s targeting an Iraqi front’s sentinel tower waits for Iraqi soldier to walk away then triggers. Artlessness [or simplicity], kindness and carrying a loving personality in the naturally aggressive world of war is the valuable achievement of movies sentinel and Immigrant.         

Presentation of a different image from war and its men by another outstanding director of this genre in his films is also worth of mention. Rasul Mollagholipur in “A trip to Chazabeh” joined the flowing stream of mind with a nostalgic attitude and created one of the most outstanding tracks of “The Cinema of Sacred Defence”. in the movie calls “Saved People” the same director emphasised on the most ignored role of women in war.

He brought the matter of country, home and home land up to the scene and sense in the movie “Ancestral Farm” more than any other film. Ancestral Farm is the most nationalistic movie of the sacred defence cinema. That’s the kind of cinema which was continued by the next generations, to uphold this flag for good. The advent of talents like Mohammad Hosein Mahdavian with his bold movies such as “Standing in dust” shows that the sacred defence cinema still moving through a progressive rout. 

Religious Cinema; Spirituality on the silver screen

Religious cinema all over the world have had two important types; the first type have been films those’ve pictured lives and activities of prophets and their disciples. Films like Ten Commandments (by Cecil.B.Demille ) and Message (of his holiness prophet Mohammad peace be upon him) by Mstafa Iqad could be examples of this type of cinema approaching to religion. The second type which is deeper and more artistic, works with religious and spiritual experiences. Some tracks of AndreTarkovski the Russian director such as Mirror and Stalker, and some works of the French director Robert Bresson like Suddenly Balthazar, and Mouchette, can be examples of a promotional approach in which by using his personal expression the film maker pictured a spiritual experience.

In Iranian cinema the lasting and impressive tracks which could be known as religious films more have tended to the second type; like showing Shiats belief in return of Mehdi [Shiat’s Messiah peace be upon him] in the movie Qadamgah [Footprint] (by Mohammad Mehdi Asgarpur) or picturing clerics’ difficulties in society in the movie calls under Moon light” by Reza Mirkarimi. This director in another movie very far very close” uses genre of road cinema to company a spiritual experience with personal expression. An odyssey-like itinerary that a laic medical doctor walks in the heart of desert and in the end he comes to believe in miracle, it is a clear display of a kind of cinema that changes the ideological mottos, and the question of eternality of life and death into a deep experience of religious practice. This religious thought expansion and its jointure with universal humanistic concepts can be seen in “Colour of God” by MajidMajidi too.

This appealing to spirituality in Iranian cinema is not exclusive to religious film makers only and common intellectuals also have made some valuable tracks of the kind. DariushMehrjuii in the movie calls “Hamoon” which counts as a kind of self-narrative of the third world intellectual sees the only way for his designated character being saved as coming to Islamic mysticism. In a movie made by Bahman FarmanaraA home on water” also the protagonist Dr.Sapidbakht by knowing an ill boy who’s learned Quran by heart, changes and recovers him the way of righteousness.

We can say that religious cinema with spiritualistic tendency brought along with it various and different experiences and it is of important streams of film making in Iran.

Social cinema; under citys skin

If in the years prior to the revolution’s triumph the number of movies that represented a real picture from the society was just a few and the main stream cinema of the time by resorting on fictitious and imaginaries tried to win the box office, however after revolution we witness a powerful social cinema. And that’s a cinema which strives for social problems diagnosis and the film maker’s commitment to display difficulties all the time parallels with a complete moral and ethical approach. The post revolution's social cinema of Iran affected by neorealismmovement of Italy was formed by movies of the quality like “Under the Citys Roofs” (Asghar Hashemi) and “Beyond the limit” (Rakhshan Banietemad) and in some years after got grown and blossomed. Rakhshan Banietemad by focusing on the subordinate layer of the society crated tracks like “Nargis” , “Blue ribbon” and “Under Citys Skin”.

The other outstanding film maker of this field is Asghar Farhadi who also and luckily in his first movies chose the deprived people's subjects. A movie like “Beautiful City” showed his very high ability in picturing problems of the weak layers of the society. In “CharShanbeh Suri” (Wednesday party) he’s paid attention to the middle class layer of the society and skilfully pictures their troubles. “About ily” was a perfect and comprehensive movie on the urban middle class and in the “Separation” Farhadi uses class conflicts in his narrative. The powerful expression of Farhadi made him a global film maker; a film maker who in less than five years achieved two Oscar prizes and today he is a role model for the young film makers who wants to picture Iranian society just as it is.

The rout that began in admiration of the movie Cow by the founder of Islamic Republic, now a day, ends with a powerful cinema; a cinema that when humanisticconcepts and moral approach in it get the same direction with an artistic reception, then it ends with vivid and unforgettable results.     


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