8.0/10
6,133
18 user 30 critic

The Cow (1969)

Gaav (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | December 1974 (USA)
An old villager deeply in love with his cow goes to the capital for a while. While he's there, the cow dies and now the villagers are afraid of his possible reaction to it when he returns.

Director:

Dariush Mehrjui
Reviews
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Ezzatolah Entezami ... Masht Hassan
Mahin Shahabi ... Hassans wife
Ali Nassirian ... Islam
Jamshid Mashayekhi ... Abbas
Firouz Behjat-Mohamadi
Jafar Vali ... Kadkhoda
Khosrow Shojazadeh Khosrow Shojazadeh ... Boy
Ezzatollah Ramazanifar ... Madman
Esmat Safavi Esmat Safavi ... Old woman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
Parviz Fanizadeh
Mahtaj Nojoomi Mahtaj Nojoomi
Edit

Storyline

Masht Hassan owns the only cow in a remote and desolate village. He treats the cow as his own child. When he is away, his cow dies. Knowing the relationship between Masht Hassan and his cow, the villagers hastily dispose the corpse, and when Masht Hassan comes back, they tell him that his cow ran away. Masht Hassan is devastated, he starts to spend all his time in the barn, eating hay, and slowly believes that he is the cow. Written by Sam Tabibnia <samtab@uclink.berkeley.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Gaav was banned for over a year by the Ministry of Culture and Arts, despite being one of the first two film in Iran to receive government funding. See more »

Quotes

Masht Hassan: I'm not Hassan. I'm his cow.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Salesman (2016) See more »

User Reviews

 
Stunning in simplicity--yet a film that offers food for thought
9 December 2006 | by JuguAbrahamSee all my reviews

This is a major work of cinema. It might not be well known but this film ranks with Fellini's "La Strada", De Sica's "The Bicycle Thief," or Mrinal Sen's "Oka Oori Katha" based on Premchand's story--"Coffin." Why is it a major work? A UCLA graduate makes a film far removed from Hollywood approaches to cinema in Iran during the Shah's regime. The film was made 10 years before Shah quit Iran and was promptly banned. It was smuggled out of Iran to be shown at the Venice Film Festival to win an award, even without subtitles.

The film does not require subtitles. It's visual. It's simple. The story is set in a remote Iranian village, where owning a cow for subsistence is a sign of prosperity. The barren landscape (true of a large part of Iran) reminds you of Grigory Kozintsev's film landscapes as in "Korol Lir" (the Russian King Lear) where the landscape becomes a character of the story.

The sudden unnatural death of the cow unsettles the village. Hassan, the owner of the cow, who nursed it as his own child, is away and would be shocked on his return. Eslam, the smartest among the villagers, devise a plan to bury the cow and not tell the poor man the truth. Hassan returns home and is soon so shocked that he loses his senses. He first imagines that the cow is still there and ultimately his sickness deteriorates as he imagines himself to be the cow, eats hay, and says "Hassan" his master will protect him from marauding Bolouris (bandits from another village). Eslam realizes that Hassan needs medical attention and decides to take him to the nearest hospital. He is dragged out like a cow. "Hassan" is beaten as an animal as he is not cooperative to the shock of some humanistic villagers. The demented Hassan, with the force of an animal breaks free, to seek his only freedom from reality--death.

The film stuns you. Forget Iran, forget the cow. Replace the scenario with any person close to his earthly possessions and what happens when that person is suddenly deprived of them and you will get inside the characters as Fellini, De Sica or Sen demonstrated in their cinema.

Every frame of the film is carefully chosen. The realism afforded by the story will grip any sensitive viewer. There is a visually arresting use of a small window in the wall of the cowshed through which the villagers watch the goings on within the cowshed. The directors use of the window serves two purposes--it gives the villagers a perspective of the cowshed and the viewer a perspective of the cowshed watchers.

The film is also a great essay on the effects of hiding truth from society and the cascading fallouts of such actions.

But there is more. Director Mehrjui affords layers of meaning to his "simplistic" cinema. There is veiled criticism of blind aspects religious rituals (Shia Islam), a critical look of stupid villagers dealing with their village idiots, the jealous neighbors, the indifferent neighbors, the village thief--all elements of life around us, not limited to a village in Iran. The political layering is not merely limited to the poverty but the politics of hiding truth and the long term effect it has on society. Ironically, there are values among the poorest of the poor--the hide of a "poisoned?" animal cannot be sold!

I was lucky to catch up with the rare screening of this film at the on-going International Film Festival of Kerala, India, that devoted a retrospective section of early Iranian cinema.

This is a film that should make Iran proud. It is truly a gift to world cinema.


76 of 83 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 18 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

IMVBox.com | sourehcinema

Country:

Iran

Language:

Persian

Release Date:

December 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cow See more »

Filming Locations:

Tehran, Iran

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page



Recently Viewed