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Blackboards [DVD] [2000]

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Product details

  • Actors: Said Mohamadi, Behnaz Jafari, Bahman Ghobadi, Mohamad Karim Rahmati, Rafat Moradi
  • Directors: Samira Makhmalbaf
  • Writers: Samira Makhmalbaf, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Zaheer Qureshi
  • Producers: Abbas Saghazsaz, Marco Mueller, Mohamad Ahmadi, Mohsen Makhmalbaf
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Kurdish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • DVD Release Date: 30 July 2001
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005MFI5
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,732 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

DVD Special Features:

Theatrical Trailer
"Making Of" Documentary
Production Notes
Kurdish with English Subtitles
Dolby Digital 2.0


Blackboards is an unusual film. First, it's from Iran; second it's directed by a woman, Samira Makhmalbaf; third, she's only 22. Set near the border with Iraq, the film follows a group of itinerant teachers who wander the countryside looking for students, carrying their blackboards with them. At various points a blackboard comes in useful as cover from gunfire, as a stretcher, and, chopped up, as a splint. Though the film is full of social observation, it functions mainly as allegory. Despite the eagerness of the wandering teachers to impart knowledge, their efforts are largely in vain, and though the film has moments of humour its tone is ultimately rather pessimistic. The director is the daughter of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, himself a noted Iranian director who wrote Samira's earlier film The Apple, a deceptively simple story of two girls who are kept for years in seclusion before social workers order their release. Blackboards is a more elusive film and won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's thought provoking, often moving and full of insights into an unfamiliar world. --Edward Buscombe

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By P. D. Allen on 15 Sep 2004
Format: DVD
Mohsen Makhmalbaf is one the pillars of post-revolution Iranian film-making, but his daughter Samira may well be as important for the next generation. "Blackboards" is Samira's remarkable sophomore film, made at the age of 19, and winner of the Jury prize at Cannes. It is an uncompromising study of the madness of war, expressed through the futile attempts of itinerant teachers desperately looking for students amongst people whose priorities are more geared to raw survival. What exactly do you say to a group of traumatized villagers whose only wish is to return home, when home is the gassed town of Hallabja? What do you say to children whose only means of survival in a war zone is to smuggle goods across the Iran/Iraq border, at the risk at any time of being shot or stepping on mines?
Many Iranian films address social issues, but some directors all too readily press the obvious emotional buttons. "Blackboards" does not do this and is a harder nut to crack, but it repays repeated viewings with deeper appreciation. As such I believe it successfully "universalizes the particular", and is likely to retain its significance when other films have dropped by the wayside.
Also included is (younger brother) Maysan Makhmalbaf's 73 minute documentary "How Samira made 'The Blackboard'". This is an important document in its own right, and covers far more than your standard "Making of.." featurette. As one example among many, there is an extended discussion of Samira's debut film "The Apple" including current interviews with the two children of that film. Samira's acceptance speech at Cannes, in which she highlights the push for reform and democracy in her country, resonates all the more strongly now in light of events of the intervening few years. Essential viewing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 July 2009
Format: DVD
Iranian cinema has produced some very fine films. Having watched a season of Iranian films on channel 4 a year or two back, I lose track of time, I was hugely impressed. The directors and largely amateur acting casts work under strict Islamic laws which restrict many Western devices used in films. Under these restrictions the most innovative directors flourish. Samira Makhmalbaf from a film making family is one of these. Let me say this is not a boring film. I found it compelling viewing. The madness of war is captured perfectly with the effects on the simple rural population graphically portrayed. The itinerant teachers use their blackboards one minute as instruments to teach, the next as shade and also as a sort of semi ballistic cover. Now that is getting full use out of a blackboard! The enthusiasm of poverty stricken youngsters to gain a form of education is also exemplified as they find time in their hard lives to study. It puts us to shame in the west. The dedication of the teachers is also shown. The film may seem haphazard at times, but isn't that true of life?

This is a fine example of Iranian cinema and well worth watching. It also contains some interesting extras. Samira comes across as a very independently minded woman, which must make life difficult for her in Iran at times. Highly recommended viewing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mercedes on 27 Jan 2011
Format: DVD
The other reviewers have commented on the Director and circumstances, so I shall just add a lay opinion. I was totally engrossed in the plot, the characters, the suffering, the acceptance, the dangers, the cinematography, the hardship, the perseverance ... need I go on? Blackboards is a real eye-opener and a fantastic comment on the situation. Brilliant direction. Definitely on my top world cinema list.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 April 2012
Format: DVD
Firstly, for all those who say that this DVD is expensive, do as I did - rent it from your local lending library. £1.80 for a week, less cos I got it as a 3 for 2 on a Friday. You'd be surprised what World cinema gems (at least mine) they stock, mostly ignored by the rest of the population as they sit there from week to week.

'Blackboards' reminded me SO much of another story of Iranian children being mules for contraband and risking life and limb to sell them in bordering Iraq - the uniquely titled 'A Time for Drunken Horses'. That remains one of the most beguiling and humbling movies ever made and remains a definite favourite of mine.

Some (well, let's be honest, most) scenes portraying the out-of-work schoolteacher, traipsing around the arid mountains looking for pupils to teach and how he gets married with his only tool of the trade being the barter, are eye-opening. Unbelievable, actually but as the amateur cast are obviously not acting this out for fun and the very seriousness of their plight, this is all very far from being a joke.

The honesty of it all makes one humble simply to be alive, let alone being alive in our comparatively comfortable West. Like I said in my 'Drunken Horses...' review, one to show your children when they start moaning that their expensive trainers are the wrong colour.

I don't think that the details of the plot are needed here. It's a short film and a lot happens, but slowly - and naturally. But, I will say that you'll never have seen so many uses for a board that's painted black in your life before.

This is essential, if minor Iranian cinema. If you do come across it, either on TV or whatever source you can, make time for it. It's unforgettable.
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