One thing that I noticed that benefits the film is that the theme of women's' role in the Iraqi society is so detrimental for the future of Iraqi women. It is obvious that the entire film follows a narrow road in which only misfortune is evident. Women are not allowed to sing in this community and this is why the father's wife ran away, because she wanted to sing. Even though the father journeyed to look for her and eventually finds her without knowing says something about the director's commentary on the role of women and their rights. But, even though he does not get his wife he gets her daughter which also states an interesting notion and raises some suspicion among audience members. Although the film shows the trouble in the society I think that with the ending that the director has provided us with says that he believes that the future holds triumph in regards of women in Iraq.
This interestingly creative commentary on the Iranian way of life begins by offering the audience with their first bit of symbolism in the opening scenes. The audience is shown a wide lends shot of a shoe cobbler fixing a decrepit, old shoe that looks as if it belongs to a young girl (which we are later shown is the case). It is apparent that the shoe carries great significance because it is the film's longest scene and is the object that keeps the plot in constant momentum. Once the shoe is fixed by the man it is given back to Ali, the film's main character who portrays the youth of Iran, and who also loses the shoe when he put it down at the market. He returns home without the shoe to tell his sister that it was lost but that he will find it. This is where the audience first sees their home and how poor they are, a common reality for a large number of Iranians. The plot of the film centralizes around Ali's determination to retrieve the lost shoes which appear to always be around the corner. This may be another comment from the director in regards to change in the lives of Iranians and how he thinks it is just around the corner.
The audience is presented with characters along Ali's journey that stand for things such as the Iranian government and citizens both impoverished and wealthy. The students of children's school are shown each day in the courtyard in straight rows where they all are directed to repeat after the teacher who is announcing rules through a megaphone. This is an apparent representation of the government's role and of the citizens'. The audience is also submerged with countless examples that represent the will of God or Allah; with the use of water which symbolizes purification, and through the different characters and settings. When we meet the little girl who is wearing Zahra's shoes and then is followed home by Zahra, we see that she is very poor also and her father is blind. But even though their situation is a rough one, one that is very similar to most Iranians, they are still very happy. I think this sums up what the director has in store for the future of Iranians.
In conclusion, I felt that the film was very moving and spoke about numerous issues such as poverty, the relationship between us and God, and the relationship between man and government. I think that the director's use of children to convey his message is very innovative and I feel it was a success. It is not hard to see why after viewing the film, that it was so popular among critics. Lastly, I believe that the director's choice of ending is meant to leave the audience with whatever they imagine as the importance because so many people have so many ideas of what the future has in store for Iran.
Given this background information on the film, you now note the film's strengths and weaknesses. I felt for an African film it transitioned fairly nicely and was no to difficult to follow (Aside from the sub-titles.) Also I understand that these are not paid actors, but rather the actual community of Popenguine who faces the issues of the film in daily everyday life. But even though the characters were played by regular people it wasn't a documentary like you may think. I thought that information was a tremendous strength for the director along with his ability to use music as a central theme which acts sort of like another member of the cast in telling the story.
Weaknesses on the otherhand, were slim in my opinion. One of the main things that I may note as a weakness is not the directors fault but still a weakness nonetheless. And that is the difficulty to relate to the characters. My recommendation for this film would have to be extended to those who feel like they may not know their real culture. In conclusion, the movie addresses very important issues that any American should feel compelled to watch.