The Iranian film "Mossafer" was shown in the United States with the title "The Traveler (1974)." The movie was written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami.
Hassan Darabi plays Qassem, a ten-year-old-boy who lives in a small city in Iran. Qassem is obsessed with soccer. When he's not playing it, he's thinking or dreaming about it. Although he's obviously intelligent, he fails subjects because he doesn't do his homework, and he has irregular attendance, and lack of motivation.
What motivates Qassem, as we learn when the movie begins, is the intense desire to travel to Tehran to watch an important soccer match. Because he has no money, he has to cheat and steal to obtain the funds.
He does manage to get the money and travel to Tehran. The last third of the film chronicles his experiences in and around the soccer stadium.
This is an intimate movie about a troubled young man. Even Qassem himself realizes that his methods for obtaining the money are wrong--Kiarostami includes a dream sequence when he is being beaten as punishment for his scams. On the other hand, it's hard not to admire his determination and perseverance.
"The Traveler" is an fascinating movie. In "Close-up (1990)", one of Kiarostami's great films, the protagonist says, "I am the child from 'The Traveler' who was left behind." So, obviously, the film has made its mark on Iranian culture.
The final scene ranks with the great last moments of "The 400 Blows." It's a film ending you'll never forget.
The movie is rough and grainy, as you'd expect from a film made 40 years ago in Iran. Even so, it's worth finding and seeing. We saw it on DVD, and it worked well on the small screen. The Criterion DVD package of "Close-up" includes "The Traveler" as a bonus. My suggestion would be to find that DVD, watch "The Traveler" first, and then watch "Close-up." Both of the movies will repay your time and effort.
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