During the war between Iran and Iraq, a group of Iranian Kurd musicians set off on an almost impossible mission. They will try to find Hanareh, a singer with a magic voice who crossed the ...
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During the war between Iran and Iraq, a group of Iranian Kurd musicians set off on an almost impossible mission. They will try to find Hanareh, a singer with a magic voice who crossed the border and may now be in danger in the Iraqi Kurdistan. As in his previous films, this Kurdish director is again focusing on the oppression of his people. Written by
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"Marooned in Iraq (Gomgashtei dar Aragh)" has a really awful English title that they somehow thought was more marketable than whatever the Farsi or Kurdish original undoubtedly was; the print I saw was annoyingly constantly flickering and shifting; the white-on-white sub-titles were so illegible that folks in the audience who could make them out were reading them out loud to those who couldn't; and the meager sentences were inadequate to the lengthy shouting proceeding in the film.
And it was still a captivating movie.
While there's obvious ethnographic interest, like with "Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)" and "Kandahar," in seeing first-hand a culture we don't regularly see humanistically, this picaresque quest could rank with Huckleberry Finn's down the Mississippi.
Here it's the arbitrary Iran/Iraq border dividing the Kurdish community around 1991. We're given almost no background information, but we gradually glean relationships.
A continuing joke is that in a community with only cast-off modern conveniences, rumors and reputation spread faster than humans can travel, even without robbings, Saddam's bombings, kidnappings, and familial arguments that thwart them. Hence, as they trudge from desert to snowy peaks, every one knows about their musical family that seems to be the Fleetwood Mac of Kurdistan, where their intertwined friendships, lovers, loyalties, and rebellions are as well known as their talents and become a passport through the frustrating literal and figurative mine fields of politics, greed, love, and devastation, they accidentally find their hearts' desires in unlikely places.
Their music is not only an identity card, but a unifying force as an uprooted people scatter from the serious and maintain the mundane, amidst a tyrant's gassings and family squabbles. Each character is memorable and distinctive, with unique motives, personalities, failings, and strengths.
It's a man's world here, but the quest is initiated and resolved at each crisis by strong-willed, practical women who are fiercely ensuring the survival of the next generation, culminating in a line straight out of Cameron Crowe's "Singles": "What took you so long?"
We are left in tears urgently hoping for the best as the quest leads to a surprising turn in the road for people we now care about very much.
The only credit translated into English is writer/director/producer Bahman Ghobadi.
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