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After their father dies, a family of five are forced to survive on their own in a Kurdish village on the border of Iran and Iraq. Matters are made worse when 12 year old Ayoub, the new head of the family, is told that his handicapped brother, Madi, needs an immediate operation in order to remain alive. This heartbreaking tale shows the lengths to which a family will go in order to survive in the harshest of conditions, where even the horses are fed liquor in order to work. Written by
Jonathan Beebe <email@example.com>
"Time of Drunken Horses" is an uncompromising film about love and perseverance. It closely resembles the Iranian film, "Color of Paradise", and the Chinese "Not One Less" in its simplicity and its unrelenting message as well as using skilled child and adult actors in real-life settings. Filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi reminds us up front that we in the West don't understand the plight of the Kurdish refugees, numbering 20 million in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. "Time of Drunken Horses" is both an important lesson as well as a powerful homage to the suffering Kurdish people. To its credit, the film does depict the suffering as sympathy but rather as heroic and noble. When children have to fight for work in the marketplace, usually carrying heavy contraband on their backs, or when they have to trudge through deep snow to return to their village, or when they sing childhood songs about how they are aging so fast, there is a surprising energy and enthusiasm. The film takes its viewpoint from three children - a teenage boy, Ayoub, placed in charge of a disintegrating family, his younger sister, Amaneh, and the crippled and sick brother, Madi. The father has died in a landmine accident and the step-mother is away leaving the children in the hands of an already burdened uncle with eight children of his own. Madi needs an operation to extend his life another 7 or 8 months; otherwise, he will died soon. The love extended to this midget child is remarkable from the brother and sisters (one even accepts marriage in exchange for obtaining the needed operation) to the kindly doctor who comes regularly to give injections. That is the one irony that this film plainly wants to get across. We are blest with modern medicine is at our fingertips and yet we can decide to withhold care if it appears to be futile. How, then, can we understand, in a society in which there is so little, the determination of one boy to extend the live of someone he truly loves when the odds are overwhelmingly against him. The final scene merely strengthens the powerful message of "Time of Drunken Horses" as the boy and his crippled brother valiantly march off in the snow to a future we know will not be pleasant.
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