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|Index||129 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I had heard that we were going to be watching an Iranian film in
class, I was a bit apprehensive. I have experienced very little
exposure to foreign films and was instantly put off by the subtitles.
My trepidation was further reinforced when I was told to pay close
attention to the pair of shoes in the beginning of the movie because
they were a very integral part of the film. I couldn't imagine how
something as trivial as a pair of shoes could keep me interested
throughout the entire story. However, I am very happy to say that I was
wrong in my preconceived notions. This film made me realize that the
simple things in life truly are the most important.
The characters that were chosen for this film were not real actors. This choice helped to make the film appear real and keep it from becoming sensationalized because of the actors. The sets that were chosen helped to contrast the poor area of Iran and the more modernized and wealthy area that Ali and his father visited in search of work. An interview that I came across that Ross Anthony from Hollywood Report Card gave to Majid Majidi, stated that the cameras used in the film were hidden, even from the actors. This allowed for a more natural feel as well as decreased the inexperienced actor's apprehensions.
The surface theme of Children of Heaven is about Ali losing his younger sister, Zahra's, shoes and trying to make things right without the help of his parents. The family is extremely poor and Ali knows that his father is not in any position to buy another pair of shoes for Zahra. When looking further into this theme, I am amazed at the cultural differences in Middle Eastern and American lifestyles. I have no doubt that there are families in America facing extreme economic hardships that experience some of the sacrifices shown in this film. However, the United States is overall very materialistic and it is not often that we are exposed to families, especially children that are willing to make the sacrifices that the characters of this film made. Ali wanted to take direct responsibility for his sister and felt genuine remorse for the loss of her shoes. In most American films, the audience would be turned off by the main character, especially a boy, crying so often throughout the movie. In this case, Ali's love for his family is prevalent throughout the film and his strong emotions come across very heartfelt and sincere.
In American films, the extremity of violence and other shock factors has become necessary in order to appeal to a desensitized audience. However, the simplicity of Children of Heaven had an ironically similar effect. In our society, we often lose sight of the little things in life and base our happiness around the cost and quantity of what we have. This film made me experience more emotions than many American films that I have seen. The importance of the Muslim's belief in the will of Allah impacted the way that the characters interacted and handled their disappointments. In American society, we tend to blame others for their misfortunes and expect them to be accountable for their own suffering. In contrast, Muslims believe that everything that they experience is what God has intended. In that way, suffering and misfortune take on very different meanings because despite your disadvantages, you are coming closer to God by following his will.
Another difference in the cultural influences of this film is the importance of winning. In America, winning is everything and under no circumstances should you ever be content with losing. However, when Ali won the race he was completely disappointed that he had not finished third. Although the reason for his being upset is because he wanted to win the shoes for Zahra, for most Americans no circumstances would justify not wanting to come in first place. A large reason for this difference is again the importance of the will of God in the Muslim religion.
I was extremely impressed with Children of Heaven and moved by the simplistic and powerful effect the film had on me. The idea that more is always better is proved wrong by this film and the impact that it has made on so many viewers. The extremely low cost of the film, the inexperienced actors, and the lack of technological advancements and images, gives the wrong impression about the quality of the film. In fact, the success of this film shows that the simple things in life are often more important.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before I ever set eyes on Children of Heaven I was told that it was an
Iranian film that contained a clandestine layer of social criticism.
While I watched I searched all over for signs that could help reveal
this to me. Hidden symbolism of a corrupt and immoral power, purposeful
ignorance, even Michael Moore. I could find none of these things. Now I
knew it would be difficult considering that the movie was made to pass
the conservative censoring that was in place to prevent such criticism
from being displayed. I was beginning to think that all the talk of
criticism was fabricated by imaginative literature teachers and film
critics to make the movie more interesting. After reading others
reviews of the movie on the Internet I found that I was not the only
one who had difficulty in finding any hidden agenda in the movie. While
this made me feel slightly better I knew I had to keep trying to find
this movie beneath the movie.
It came to me after a second screening of the movie, the title itself is a glaring sarcastic criticism of Iran. Calling Ali and Zhara the Children of Heaven is like naming a movie about modern day Iraq Uneventful Peaceful and Stable Nation. The fact that this name passed censors means that the decision must have been in the hands of a prideful, and arrogant censor.
The title was not the only thing that stuck out at me the second time around. Comparing attitudes between the children and adults in the film you could see that the children when faced with a problem took it upon themselves to solve it, while circumventing any adult inclusion. To include their parents in the problem at hand would mean getting beat, and among other things adding to mounting problems. What was interesting was that the parents, unaware of their children's predicament, cared less about rectifying their problems than the children did about rectifying theirs. It is thought to tell if the children recognize this, and are working to become less like their parents to improve their condition in life, or their motivation is purely not to get beaten. Either way this situation opens up some pretty interesting thoughts on how Iran deals with their problems. Are setbacks, and problems the will of god and something that is meant to be, or are they the will of Iran and dealt with only under threat of punishment? Could the younger generations understand that problems are there to fix and pursue rather than mark down as a way of life?
Overall I thought the film was very entertaining without the social commentary, and became transformed into a very meaningful, and surprising piece with the commentary.
This movie is wonderful. I teach drama in an elementary school in PR and I showed this movie to my students.I wanted them to be exposed to a movie acted by children from a different culture. Language was no barrier for my students to enjoy and appreciate this movie. My students speak Spanish and the movie was in Farsi with subtitles in English. At the end they concluded that children from different cultures are all alike. Majid Majidi is an artist. With out the $$$ of Hollywood he makes movies that are far superior to all the silliness we have to see. I wish there were more movies like this one. It shows that true CINEMA does not depend of big names, fancy studios, digitalized effects, sugary plots and lack of imagination.
This is a beautiful film, with the special poignancy that comes from seeing the world through the eyes of a child. The viewer is privileged to share in the innocence, hope, and beauty of these children, and also in their struggles. It is a film that portrays the universal truths of childhood and family and human brotherhood in the tradition of Padre Padrone and To Kill A Mockingbird. The acting is superb, the pacing is perfect, the images are haunting, and the story is full of emotion, but without sentimentality. Don't miss this film, and be sure to share it with your friends. If we embraced the Ali and Zahra in all of us, the world would be a better place.
I am not able contain myself from commenting on this master-piece. My vocabulary fails me to praise this movie. The performance of Ali and his sister is unprecedented....marvelous....fabulous.....(English is a poor language!!). I could not shake of Ali's image from my memory for long.....the scenes that stands out are: When he informs his sister that he has lost her shoes....When he pleads for pardon from his school headmaster when he is found coming late to the school (because his sister comes late from her school to deliver the shoes)....and Ali pleads with his PT master to include his name for the running race... On the whole Majid Majidi has given a master piece to the world cinema. Kudos to the director and the cast. Note: Don't wait for an opportunity to watch this film......run to the near by VCD store, buy one and see it right now. What are you waiting for.....RUN.
One of the best movies I've ever watched.
It's interesting how such a good movie can be made using a simple plot.
The whole movie is a play of emotions. Actors were fantastic through out the movie. You could really feel what they are going through, you could feel their pain, love and disappointment. It was all very well reflected on their faces.
This movie is amazing. Every character is fully dimensional, which is a rarity and it's a smart trick to keep the audience fully involved throughout. Majidi does this with our young protagonist and his sister, and he does this, amazingly, with those with smaller roles. His technique for making the kids speak volumes (tho they are obviously not "trained & accomplished" actors) is the use of their facial expressions, Parviz Malekzaade's attractive cinematography, and the musical score. What captivated me most about the film was that the story was told so well. It's hard to find a good story teller, and it seems that we can trust Majidi with this. The story is of a boy and his sister struggling with diffrent problems, but they become each others saviors. I can't think of ONE person who would dislike this wonderful gem.
Neo-realism was the school of cinema developed by the Italians just after World War II. From 1945 to approximately 1954, directors like De Sica, Rossellini and Zampa delivered masterpieces like Open City, Paisan, To Live in Peace, Shoe Shine, The Bicycle Thief, Umberto D and Miracle in Milan. But the Italian (not the World) audiences got tired of seeing poverty and everyday problems and demanded something more sophisticated. Federico Fellini added imagination to the down-to-earth themes of Neo-realism and gave the world a new concept of cinema. Neo-realism, it was said, was proper to poor, not to wealthy cinematic industries. It this was son, Iranian Director Majid Majidi accepted the challenge, and has made Children of Heaven, the most moving and perfect piece of neo-realism that has been filmed outside of Italy. The story is much like that of The Bicycle Thieves: it's a pair of shoes that are stolen. But Majidi has provided us with the most wonderful performances from children that the screen has ever seen. A great story, magnificent color and camera work,perfect actors both children and adult, and a firm direction that never misses an opportunity to engage and captivate the audience. I have never seen a better motion picture from that part of the world.
Children of Heaven with a simple humor and simple actors, show us the hard life of two siblings and their family, the importance of a single pair of shoes, the concern for the economic situation of the family and the affection between the two children that it's shown when the boy removes sky and earth, so his sister can have a pair of shoes. Really beautiful and well done movie.
This film is not to be considered as more a novelty of an exotic country, as many productions of the third world are. Actually, it's superior to the smashing majority of the American films. It is touching in its simplicity, true in the feelings that it focuses, blinding in the sublime form as it approaches, starting from the simple story of a poor Iranian child, such universal subjects. Just extraordinary.
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