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The movie starts with a cobbler mending a pair of shoes and this goes
on for about a good 3 minutes. One wonders why the director would
choose to show something like this for 3 mins. But this gave me a sense
of assurance that I am gonna watch a gripping and a solid movie. And
yes, it was more than what I'd expected. This is one movie that I don't
miss mentioning in any discussion about movies among friends.
The movie's beauty is in its details, the mood set for the plot, the simplicity of its narration, the characterization and of course the performances. The story is simply this. Bro loses the pair of shoes of his kid sis. Disappointed sis agrees to share the pair of bro's sneakers fearing their father's reaction to the lost shoes / empathizing with father's helpless financial situation. Rest of the movie is just about how they manage with one pair of sneakers.
The movie would have been half as decent without the details delved in to in some of the simpler things - right from showing a typical day in the life of the boy, details of how impoverished the family is and the several hints / dialogues pointing to that, sis chasing a sneaker that fell in the gutter, camera tracking the sis and bro all the way from and to school every day showing the busy streets, the distance, etc., the sis looking at the shoes worn by other students during the prayer session at school and her mental preoccupation with the shoes while other kids have fun playing around. The director has taken every possible effort to totally impress upon the viewer a few things - the family's financial situation, the kids' camaraderie and their respect and love for each other, their ability to empathize and manage. Any shortfall in impressing these premises would have just not lead to such an impact from the movie.
About the performances. The kids' expressions speak volumes!! Right number of dialogues fitting the innocence and responsible nature of the kids. Emotions have been dealt with absolute clinical precision. Right mix of innocence, subservience, love, anger, empathy, frustration, etc. The change of moods in a split second whenever the kids' discuss the pair of shoes just brings goosebumps and tears. There are many occasions when the sis loses her temper over the bro for having lost her shoes and warns him about complaining to their dad. She however holds high regards for her bro (which she displays beautifully) and listens to him on why she should not do that. From fury it gradually mellows down to anger-with-respect to frustration to helplessness and to childish joy from reassuring comfort provided by bro. All in 1-2 mins. Any more or less dialogues than what they are would have just screwed it all up.
Background score does its bit judicially. It supports the screenplay and performances by not distracting the viewers with music everywhere just for the heck of it. Background is more of sounds of the world around.
Overall a must watch for every movie connoisseur and particularly for those who love family drama genre. Movies that come close in terms of impact created and brilliance in film making are bicycle thief, life is beautiful, pursuit of happiness, hachiko, shwaas (marathi), kanchivaram (tamil) and parts of colour of paradise (from the same director as children of heaven). I'd rate this 10 on any day!! Very glad I watched this movie.
Ali is sent to pick up his sister's shoes from a repair shop and when
he puts them down while at a produce stand, a garbage man picks them up
and throws them away. The boy frantically searches for the shoes with
no luck, and so he asks his sibling, Zahra, not to tell their parent's
because they are very poor, even being several months behind in their
The kids devise a scheme to share Ali's pair of Converse, with the two alternating school classes between mornings and afternoons. He is late because of the trade off in an alley and his principal warns him to be on time.
Ali's father, desperate for money, takes his son along with gardening tools to a wealthy neighborhood, looking for work. They find a mansion and the owner's grandson plays with Ali as his father landscapes. On their way home, they fall off their bike and are slightly injured.
Ali hears of a race with one of the prizes being a new pair of sneakers, so he decides to run in order to win the footwear for his sister. The ending is charming and so are the the two kids who play the brother and sister. Children of Heaven is proof that a big budget is not needed to make a great film.
The most amazing thing which I found about this movie was it was just based on a pair of shoes which a boy named Ali loses it unfortunately. With that simple base, a master piece has been created by Majid Majidi. Emotions depicted to its best. The depth of love and understanding between brother and sister has been portrayed perfectly. The blend of comedy in between the hard fought life of Ali's family was more than welcome. You very easily get reminded of your childhood memories which binds you more to the movie. Though being kids, they have acted to perfection. A very simple but a beautiful movie to watch and would suggest other users to watch as well.
Relationship between brother and sister portrayed like a Da Vinci
painting. This movie is a piece of gem and I recommend it to everybody
who love a story about relationships and hardships. The kids are
perfect in their respective roles and the movie itself is as close to
reality as it can be. Human innocence is perfectly shown through the
children by artist of an director. Hats off to Majid Majidi for writing
it and then directing it to perfection. The movie shows how simple
things in life can change us as human beings and how a desire the grows
from the depths of a pure heart can change us as an individual.
I recommend this movie to those who love a story that reflects life as it is.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Until a fortnight ago I'd never seen an Iranian film and assumed any
film from their would just be religious or political propaganda...
perhaps there are films like that but having just watched this film and
"Offside" it is clear that they also make fantastic character based
films that are a delight to watch.
On the face of it a film about a poor boy losing his sister's only pair of shoes doesn't sound the basis for a film that is both interesting and a joy to watch but it works. With his mother too ill to work and his father in a low paid job young Ali promises his sister Zahra that he will get her shoes back if she doesn't tell their parents about the loss. When he fails to find them he offers to share his own footwear; an old pair of trainers. This means that as soon as her school is over Zahra must run through the narrow back streets to get the shoes to Ali so he can go to his school, even though he runs he is slightly late each day and is getting in trouble.
Director Majid Majidi did a great job getting such natural performances from his two stars, both of whom were young children. It is surprising that the children didn't go on to star in further films as they were both a joy to watch and made the viewer really care for their plight. The film might sound a bit boring and depressing but it isn't, there are a few sad scenes but for the most part it is a film that had me smiling from start to finish, I'll have to look out for more films from Iran.
As the story opens, young Ali is picking up his sister's shoes from the
repair shop. On the way home, the shoes are inadvertently lost and Ali
must tell his little sister Zahra they are gone. The family has no
money for new shoes and Ali fears they will both be beaten, so they
don't tell their parents but come up with a plan: Zahra will wear Ali's
shoes to school in the morning and he will wear them in the afternoon.
This Iranian film is absolutely charming. We see the world through the children's eyes...the harsh realities of their poverty and the contrasting luxury Ali sees when he helps his father as a gardener. Ali risks serious consequences by sticking with the plan and Zahra's heart longs for the beautiful shoes of her classmates. The children who play the leads are natural actors, completely believable and sympathetic; sadly, this was their only movie.
I couldn't wait to see what would happen next and the long-distance race at the end is really exciting. Highly recommended, but keep the tissues handy. (In Persian with English subtitles.)
From Iran comes a wonderfully unique and family friendly film. Unique in the portrayals of it's children characters, children who act and feel like real children. Their acting is great and their emotions pull you right along with them. This film is a great example of simple storytelling that works in a grand way. This would be a great film for younger kids to see, much better for them and their young minds then some of the Hollywood trash that's pumped into their face. The subtitles are relatively easy to read and the story is simple and easy to follow. The camera work gives you a great feel for the area of Iran and it's people at the time. All said a unique and original film and in all the right ways.
Innocence and purity are the words that come to your mind after you have watched this movie. I got this movie from my local DVD library(God knows how they had such a masterpiece) and just to bide my time stared watching this movie. But what started as an innocuous plot finally turned out to be one of best movies I have ever watched. The story evolves around the brother and sister Ali and Zara.A bolt of bad luck causes Ali to loose Zaara's shoes, therefore the kids come up with a plan to share the only pair of sneakers that they have. What follows is then a heart warming tale of brother and sister trying there best to cope up with the situations that crop up and in the mean time keeping there secret. The plot of the movie is quite simple but is full of beautiful moments. These moments become more beautiful because of the great acting by the lead pair of brother and sister. Both the children have done extremely good acting and this itself is a tribute to the director of this movie. This movie is like a new born child, as you go along the movie you start sharing there emotions, feeling bad for there misfortune and hoping internally that everything turns out fine with them. The movie is full of positive energy and watching this movie leaves u with a hopeful and enthusiastic state of mind and heart. One other good aspect of this movie is the way in which it showcases Iran's culture. It shows quite boldly that Iran and other Arab countries are not just about Mullahs and hardliners and the people there are no different from the rest of the world. They also essentially share the same spirit of humanity. Overall a great movie and must watch for any avid cinema follower.
Children of Heaven is a simple movie, but creative in its imagery and
symbolism. The story is about a boy who loses his sister's shoes and
his fierce determination to get his sister a replacement pair. The most
poignant scene that illustrates the boy's desire to help his sister and
bring her comfort is shown in the marathon race around the lake in a
modern downtown city in Iran.
Ali enters a marathon race to win third prize, which is a new pair of sneakers, for his sister, Zahra. The race begins and Ali is in the middle of a pack of boys, all around his age. A few times, Ali trips and falls to the ground, causing him to fall behind the other boys in the race, losing his place. Every time he falls down, he picks himself back up with a look of fierce determination on his face and charges back into the race. He is breathing heavily and fatigue begins to show on his face, but he only thinks of his sister and his promise to get her a new pair of shoes. This show of fierce family loyalty is so moving, especially from one so young.
All around him there are birds chirping and trees moving past him, with a large lake behind Ali in every take. This reference to a garden, water, and Ali's promise are striking allusions to the Islamic religion on which this movie is based. The lake is an Islamic symbol for purification, alms, and the Will of God. Water is an unstoppable force that cannot be avoided just as God is an unstoppable force that is always affecting man's everyday lives. The trees and the sound of the birds singing is another allusion to God through nature. This nature is a representation of the Garden of Eden from which all of mankind derived and will one day re-enter.
This movie ties together to Islamic tradition of family helping one another in times of need and the will and power of God in their everyday lives. This is definitely a movie worth seeing if you love simple and beautiful imagery, straightforward story line, and the determination of man to overcome adversity.
Children of Heaven The main focus of this movie was on the children.
The setting you see is what you would see as the child. (From a child's
level) The adults are seen in the background, but have little to do
with the action going on in the movie itself. Even when Ali is running
through the alleys trying to hurry and get to school the camera is
still at his level showing what he sees. The pace of the shots also
depends completely on what the kids are doing. This movie does a great
job of showing how a kid in this area lives.
I like how the film shows how close Ali and Zahra are. He feels terrible about losing her shoes and is determined to get her a new pair when he knows he'll never find her old ones. Zahra tries to threaten Ali by saying she is going to tell mom or dad, but he promises if she just gives him a little more time he will work it out. He allows her to borrow his shoes for school and meet him in the alley go exchange so he can make it to school. He is late multiple times because of the exchange, but still won't tell his parents he lost her shoes. He becomes determined to get into the race to win her a new pair of shoes that he cries and begs his teacher to let him try out even though it's past the try out date. He promises him he will win, but he doesn't mention he only wants to win third place. The whole movie revolves around the guilt Ali feels for losing the shoes and his determination to get her some new ones.
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