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Zanan-e bedun-e mardan (2009)

Not Rated | | Drama | 12 March 2010 (Italy)
1:55 | Trailer
Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran's 1953 CIA-backed coup d'état, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard garden, where they find independence, solace and companionship.


Shoja Azari, Shirin Neshat (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
7 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Shabnam Toloui Shabnam Toloui ... Munis
Pegah Ferydoni ... Faezeh
Arita Shahrzad Arita Shahrzad ... Farrokhlagha
Orsolya Tóth ... Zarin (as Orsi Toth)
Ahmad Hamed Ahmad Hamed ... Gardener
Navid Navid ... Ali (as Navíd Akhavan)
Bijan Daneshmand ... Abbas
Essa Zahir ... Amir Khan
Tahmoures Tehrani Tahmoures Tehrani ... General Sadri
Abbas Bakhtiari Abbas Bakhtiari ... Singer
Mehdi Moinzadeh Mehdi Moinzadeh ... Communist Leader
Farhad Payar ... Leading Officer
Shahrnoush Parsipour Shahrnoush Parsipour ... Madame Pari
Said Oveissi Said Oveissi ... Hassan
Mithra Zahedi Mithra Zahedi ... Nahid


Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran's 1953 CIA-backed coup d'état, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard garden, where they find independence, solace and companionship.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official site [Hungary]


Germany | Austria | France | Italy | Ukraine | Morocco


Persian | English

Release Date:

12 March 2010 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Women Without Men See more »

Filming Locations:

Casablanca, Morocco


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,404, 11 April 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$175,995, 13 June 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Azan that we hear through the film is Moazzenzade Ardabili's version which was recorded in 1955 while this movie takes place in 1953. See more »


References Mogambo (1953) See more »


String Quartet No 10 E flat Major Op 125/1
Written by Franz Schubert
See more »

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User Reviews

Over-reaching film nonetheless has merits to savour

This was a highly ambitious Iranian film following the lives of several women in 1950s Iran. It may be of interest to American viewers in that the backdrop to the movie is the 1953 coup, where the CIA, in support of an absolute monarch (the Shah), helped overthrow a democratically elected government. That assumes that anyone is still interested in finding out "why the world hates America", I think it's become passé to ruminate on that now. But if you flick CNN on and see the latest wranglings with Iran, well here is where the story started, it's a good idea not to start reading at chapter 56.

The main focus of the film though is the treatment of several Iranian women by the society in which they live, and their retreat to a magical garden without men. It's an awesomely ambitious adaptation of a famous novel of the same name by Shahrnush Parsipur (who has a cameo appearance as the brothel madam). It's not particularly successful, I don't like saying that, but I think even Shirin Neshat, who was present for the screening was not happy with the finished article, which took a very long time to film. She has simply tried to weave too many strands. The most successful story perhaps is of the young prostitute Zarin, who is anorexic and actually played very well by a Hungarian actress, Orsolya Tóth. It's no surprise to me that Neshat actually made a 20 minute short starring the same actress in 2005 called Zarin, which was very well received.

In the Women Without Men, Zarin, who runs away from a brothel is seen furiously rubbing her body raw in some public baths. She speaks not a single word in the whole movie, and that is the most effective condemnation of the society she lives in.

We can see some of the terrible attitudes prevailing then and perhaps now as well about women. Amir Khan (played very ably by Essa Zahir) at one point approaches one of the women (Faezeh played by Pegah Ferydoni) and gives her this line about how women are flowers who blossom and then wither. He then asks her to become his second wife; his first wife, who has withered, will "of course" become her servant. Khan has absolutely no idea of the level of misogyny he's communicating. One of the women is a general's wife, her husband ends an incredibly oafish rant with an order for her to come and eat some melon because he wants her to. In the movie we see a distillation of the unfortunate insensitivities to which a group of Iranian women have been subjected. It's important to note that it would be an overreaction to condemn Iranian male society en masse.

It's a very beautiful movie, the garden of the villa that the general's wife sets herself up in after a very scandalous separation, is really very magical and shot wondrously. I was worried that the movie was getting a bit lost in it's quest for aesthetic perfection, and thusly becomes almost soporific. The stories of the different women became a bit cacophonic, there was no unison message. It's got to be pretty unbalanced as well, men are almost uniformly comedy sketch buffoons, the women martyrs.

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