Mohsen Makhmalbaf is one of the most interesting of Iranian directors and, after Abbas Kiarostami, the best known one outside Iran. He started as an ultra-conservative, pro-revolutionary film maker and has since drifted away more and more towards a radical non-conformist school of cinema. Along the way his style has increasingly shifted from narrative driven cinema of A Moment of Innocence, Once Upon a Time Cinema and The Cyclist to more abstract films such as Gabbeh, The Silence and now, The Scream of the Ants.
Scream of the Ants could be described as Makhmalbaf's philosophies on life, religion and sex set against a series of visual tableaux. The "story" as such concerns a young Iranian couple who have journeyed to India to find "The Complete Man". Along the way, the couple, and a string of other characters, offer us pieces of Makmalbaf's philosophies. As an example, a driver taking the couple to see the Complete Man muses:"If you go by car to visit The Complete Man, you can have a good view; but if you go by foot, you'll have a vision." Well, if you find something profound in that, then you're likely to enjoy this film. Otherwise, it can be a very slow ride.
Scream of the Ants is bound to find notoriety in Iran for both its sex scenes and its religious view point. Although the sex is very tame by western standards, it is way beyond anything shown in Iranian films. For this reason it will undoubtedly become a hot pirate DVD in Iran where the chances of the film getting a public showing are less than zero. Makhmalbaf's strong visual style is a plus point. A more apt title for this film would have been the title of Makhmalbaf's previous movie "Sex and Philosophy"!
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