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Terrifying Beievability that Stands Up Easily to Anything Hollywood Has to Offer,
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This review is from: The Color Of Paradise  (DVD)
Being a fan of World Cinema I have had the pleasure of seeing a number of Iranian films. Their cinema has a strength and sophistication that is unmatched anywhere else in the Middle East apart from Turkey. Majid Majidi’s ‘The Colour of Paradise’ is a gem. I watched it on a Korean DVD version of the film that had no apparent differences from the European version. (Unfortunately, there are no extras.)
‘The Colour of Paradise’ is a terribly moving film without being mawkish. Mohammad is a loving and intelligent boy, who is taken home from his school in Tehran for the summer holidays. His family live in a beautiful part of Iran, so green and lush, and quite Alpine in character; a part of Iran that is rarely seen or depicted on screen. I would hazard a guess that it is in the Elburz Mountains to the north of Tehran, because there is access to a strand that seemed part of the Caspian Sea.
The difficulty that young Mohammad has is that he is blind and for this reason is rejected by his widowed father, who sees his son as a problem that holds him back in his work and in his attempts to woo a second wife. On more than one occasion Majidi’s story implies that the father would not grieve for long if his son came to mortal grief. Thankfully, though, Mohammad’s grandmother and sisters are there to provide him with unconditional love, but his father takes him away from the family to be apprenticed instead to a blind carpenter. Mohammad’s depiction to his kindly new master of his deep and powerful sense of rejection – not just by his family and by the world in general, but also by God – is deeply moving and had this reviewer (remembering his own childhood) in tears.
The young actor who plays Mohammad is a natural, clearly demonstrating that his blindness is not necessarily a bar to developing his own intellectual talents and his love for the natural world around him. He has a thirst for knowledge of all kinds and even seems to have a sixth sense. Meanwhile, we witness the agricultural life of his native country, the growing of wheat and alfalfa, as well as local industries such as charcoal manufacture, wool dyeing, carpentry and the making of cob walls for the farmhouse.
Amidst the scenes of beauty and intermittent comedy, the film builds gradually to its climax, as the glorious sunshine of high summer slowly gives way to cloudy skies and rain. Throughout, the father is depicted as cold and heartless to his adorable son. But when alone by the riverbank, he often feels haunted by the sounds of the surrounding forest, as if not being able to assuage his own guilt for actions in the past. And late in the film we learn that the father too felt unloved in his childhood years. And so it goes on. But when, at the end, natural tragedy strikes, the father, after some hesitation, finally fights for the life of his son in a sequence of terrifying believability that stands up easily to anything Hollywood has to offer.