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Takhté siah
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Reviews & Ratings for
Blackboards More at IMDbPro »Takhté siah (original title)

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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

symbolism and harshness

Author: estephan from Washington DC
5 October 2004

I have nothing against slow movies -- for instance kiarostami is a huge favorite of mine. But I have to admit, this film really pushes the slow-and-obtuse envelope. it's mainly the script. the teachers encounter various nomads and desperately harangue them to hire them as teachers... when people refuse, they just repeat themselves again and again, and it seems that nobody really listens to anyone else. it's a study in harshness. it leans heavily on symbolism, and you feel that the whole thing is totally constructed by the filmmaker, that no respect at all is being paid to naturalism or the kinds of reactions that people would likely have in a situation like this. so, if you're really excited by a symbol-filled, quite stark time, you will appreciate this. I wasn't up for it.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A well made and original little movie.

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
29 October 2006

This is a rather well made movie, that shows some of the problems in Iran that affects its poor northern citizens, without luckily ever getting over-dramatic or too sentimental but at the same time it's also lacking in true depth to make this a powerful or impressive movie.

It's a slow moving movie that is entirely filmed with handhold camera, with lots of long sequences. It works good for a realism and the atmosphere of the whole movie but at the same time means that this is not a movie for just everyone. You must be able to handle the slow- and different way of storytelling to appreciate this movie fully.

The movie is good looking, with its moody, never-ending, landscapes and good camera positions to tell the story with. The dialog is realistic, though not always interesting. I mean they basically say the same things five times in a row in this movie, which perhaps is a bit irritating. This is also due to the non-professional actors that play in this movie. Needless to say that not everything works out fully in this movie, especially when it comes down to the true emotion or depth of the movie. Lucklily there is no lack of realism, although the movie its story pushes it at times. But on the other hand it's the story that still makes this a pleasant movie to watch. The subject might be heavy and serious but luckily the movie doesn't try to emphasis this. The end result is a good and not heavy to watch movie that is absolutely worth seeing but lacking in real emotions or depth to make a true lasting impression.

The movie is told from an original point of view; A couple of schoolteachers that travel trough the North of the country to remote villages and groups of refugees, to teach them the basic things such as writing, reading and simple math, to try and give everyone a better future and at the same time earn some money or get some free food as well. They're mixed up in all the difficulties but yet they're no part of it. If they want they can walk away from all the troubles if they choose to. They're objective in the whole situation and they don't do more than is ever asked of them.

Most of the characters in this movie are being played by non-actors. It works realistic but at the same time is one of the reasons why the movie is lacking in any true depth or well acted out emotions. The movie as a whole is effective and it makes its point well but it does so without ever impressing too much, with the exception of one or two great sequences.

Samira Makhmalbaf has some good and promising potential as a filmmaker and is possible future Oscar potential, just like her father, who also co-wrote this movie but her movies have to become even more confronting and daring if she wants to achieve that.


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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Fresh and intelligent

Author: butterfinger
16 October 2004

Blackboards is a very good film: well acted and engaging. The story is fresh: a group of Iranian teachers with blackboards on their backs, trying to each undereducated Kurdish refugees how to read, write, count, et cetera.

The film is filled with endearing characters: a sharp young boy working as a mule, a teacher desperately trying to teach those around him, an old man with urinary problems, a woman whose chaotic life has been extremely painful and just wants to be able to hold on to her son. Samira Makhmalbaf has revealed herself as a humane filmmaker with a good eye for drama in everyday life. The film is honest in its vision of a world where reading and writing seem so useless, where the only thing that matters is the ability to keep on moving. That is what makes the teachers' attempts to teach the many refugees so pathetic. I feel that a good filmmaker like Makhmalbaf, someone who has a story to tell and knows how to tell it, is better than the dozens of pretensions auteur filmmakers with their overblown visions and obnoxiously pointless powerhouse melodrama.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The main character drove me nuts

Author: archiecm from San Diego, CA
8 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film promised to be a real sleeper. I am a teacher and knew I'd enjoy a movie about traveling teachers who carry blackboards on their backs. But the teachers split up and of the ten or so that start out, the camera picks the worst example of a teacher to follow. You don't realize this at first--you see him laboriously searching students with an interest in reading. What he finds is a group of child smugglers or mules and an exodus of old folks returning to Iraq. None have the inclination to learn to read even if the lessons are free. They're too busy and too tired. But Said, the teacher we're following, doesn't hear a word they say. The audience is in awe at the all-work lifestyle of these kids who only want to survive. Said keeps asking them if they want to read clearly not even hearing their responses.

Later he marries as a favor to a stranger whose friend is old and wants to see his daughter married off. Said promptly starts to teach her to read ignoring the fact that she could care less. He sends the kid off so he can pepper her with letters of the alphabet that she simply ignores. Later, his stepson runs off and the wife heads down the road in pursuit. Said thinks she's deserting him. He never does get why she went down the road or why she finally stops. She's found the kid but Said is clueless as to what has just happened. So he divorces her for being weird.

He was the worst ambassador for being literate that I've ever seen. In spite of him I was moved by the poverty, the hard dry terrain, and by the bravery and loyalty of the people who marched all day seemingly without food or water.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Good Enough

Author: Karl Self from Yurp
31 July 2002

Not a bad effort for a 20 - year old, even when considering that her father is a (locally) famous director, though I would question that it warranted the attention it got here in France. The film starts off with very memorable images of a band of teachers wandering through the rough terrain of the Iranian borderland, in search of prospective pupils, with their blackboards tied to their backs. A great starting point for the film, but unfortunately from there on it increasingly meanders through the plot, stretching some plot elements beyond the tolerance of even a forgiving "alternative cinema" audience -- half as long would probably have meant twice as good. Still, I haven't seen many movies from this part of the world, or made in this style, so overall it made for a good cinematic experience.

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5 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Confusing Waste Of Time

Author: bryguy_1942 from United States
22 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've seen a lot of foreign movies and enjoyed them. I rarely comment on any film whatsoever, but this one came so highly praised and so poorly performing that I had to comment on it and warn others. What the &*^$ where the people at Cannes thinking when this was given the Jury Award? I have no idea...

Get ready to watch a very slow account of two traveling teachers as they accompany other travels on their way across the Iraq/Iran border. I could not stop watching the movie because I was waiting for something to happen. It didn't. The teachers constantly try to teach people how to read and write, but everyone ignores them. I mean, seriously ignores them. Every time one of them asks a question they have to repeat it about 5 times The others travelers are permanently depressed and silent. Its hard to have any sympathy for them: there is extremely little known about the characters, no development, they show no willingness to accomplish anything except trek across the next mountain and hide from unseen helicopters and soldiers.

The one positive comment I could make is that the landscape backdrops are quite amazing and the people are realistically gritty.

By far the biggest disappointment.

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0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: mrx0072001 from Turkey
26 May 2005

the film is about a group of Kurdish people who migrated to Iran after Halebje massacre in 1988. the film starts at a point that people want to return their homeland(Iraq).i think Makhmalbaf was not depicted the mere story of a group of people but she wanted to show how Kurdish people live in mountains of mid-east for centuries to all people of the world.the film's runtime is about 85 minutes but it is the whole history(maybe destiny) of Kurds, guns,massacres,blood,ignorance...Said is an idealist teacher who want to enlighten his people. the woman character tells us the psychological effects of the Halabje massacre. when border soldiers fire the group she says "again nuclear weapons..." i think it is very interesting in that it shows the brutality of the Saddam regime who used nuclear weapons and killed about 5000 children, women and the old.

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Surrealism in the realist style?

Author: Rob Brown (cinephiliac) from London, UK
15 May 2006

Blackboards is at its best when considered a dreamy, surreal take on real-world issues. It's a shame though that the film's style doesn't match it's content – if it had then it could have been truly affecting and memorable. As it is, it pairs the visual and conceptual silliness of men running around with blackboards strapped to them, and the visual and conceptual non-silliness of innocents meeting trouble on the hills of the Iran/Iraq border, which confuses the message. Further, shooting the otherwise farcical adventures of the blackboaders in the (ever popular) faux-documentary realism style undermines Samira Makhmalmaf's attempt to consider issues such as imprisonment, gender equality, education and communication, which are all jumbled around in the text fairly loosely, and not in the regimented way the style would have enhanced.

Not only are these issues trampled on by the blackboarders, but the characters are not exactly equipped with the faculties to make them engaging for 85 minutes. They are moronic, moribund individuals, trapped on empty endless hillsides or engulfed in smoke which might as well be a metaphor for their foresight. They are not interesting. The trouble is it's unclear whether the director is mocking them or pitying them. One assumes the former, but unfortunately the message is, like the writing on the boards, incomplete.

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Toronto 2000 Wrap-Up

Author: Carson Jones (DJFreak) from New York City
15 October 2000

9/8 12:00 pm BLACKBOARDS (***)

Would have rated lower before realizing that the director is only 21. Interesting docu-drama about Iranian school teachers with blackboards strapped to their backs who wander the desolate mountains in search of under-educated Kurdish refugees. Great premise but using non-actors results in stiff performances. Story wears a little thin and drags in places which shouldn't happen in an 85 minute film.

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2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: bn38416 from United States
2 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

terrible....boring,and these people acted like morons.....i turned it off after getting tired of listening to these guys repeat every question a million times. they just say the same crap over and over.....and the marriage scene made me sick. annoying little bastards.

I'm sure the movie was powerful in its own right,and i really wanted to see the hardships these guys went through, but i just couldn't get over how they talked to each other....the constant nagging gave me a headache,they were reminding me of 4 year olds bugging mom at the toy store.

i would have like to have seen what happened after the marriage,but i couldn't get through sure this movie was great n all,but personally i like my films to not put me to sleep.....just didn't really need to be a flick,as far as im concermed. im sure you al think im shallow,but think what you will,i have a healthy respect for film,and im not the Hollywood lover you might assume i am. film doesn't need to be boring to make a statement.

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