Saturday, February 27, 2010

"The Color of Paradise" (Language - Persian) (1999) - Movie Review

I went back to see what I wrote for Majid Majidi’s lovely film “Children of Heaven” and was astounded to realize that certain parts of the write up fits picture perfect to “The Color of Paradise”. That film which walks around barefoot in between the thorns of sappiness is a work of art in presenting the pristine form of human emotions. And that can be only achieved through the innocence of childhood and here there is an adult man in the brink of dropping off his burden and is in the most cruel dilemma in his life. But when the movie gets over, we are surprised on the resistance Majid Majidi has broken in his audience and see the father’s point of view. However unjust it might be, there is an empathy running along.

Mohammed (Mohsen Ramezani) is off for summer vacation from the school for blinds in Tehran. Along with other kids he is waiting for his parents, his father for him as his mother passed away years back. His father (Hossein Mahjoub) comes ridiculously late and asks the staff out there to take care of him. They of course are perplexed because he is a working man and what is more important is that he is a caring man. With no choice, he takes Mohammed back to his village. Mohammed is an astute and creative kid who cannot wait to see his sisters and his adorable Granny (Salameh Feyzi). Every time people meet after a long time in this film, there is an energy unconditionally present and felt. A very narrow margin for error in scenes like this and Majidi using his actors makes it ethereal and so transparent.

In “Children of Heaven”, despite the cuteness of the kids there was strong sense of the realism in the hardship they go through. The family circumstances and a working father with an ill mother are there for a realistic purpose which does not feel like a script rule. It comments on the social scenario and its claws on people. In this film, we cruise through lush greenery and mountains just right enough height to appreciate and not be scared and the flow of water. Cinematography by Mohammad Davudi advises that people living in this condition would have to be good and mostly they are.

The film which centers on this blind boy makes him likable by every one out of his character than out of pity. His Granny cares and preciously take him through the fields. His cute young sisters are filled with smile when they see him. But his father struggles and is tip the limit where the boy is hindrance to everything in his life. He is hesitant to get married which is very prospective on the bride’s side. He has had a tough life coming through this and now he is left with kids, a mom to take care and the woman he loved under the ground. He has throughout his manhood given to others and worked on the hardship. He is disappointed with the praised god and he wants his love. Majidi of course does not show these when we meet him and the few scenes he stands by to see the kid surrounded by affection.

Mohammed walks by his own when he can and continuously feels the nature of things and listens to the sounds of the birds and animals. During his wait for his dad at the beginning, he goes towards the woods and begin to shoo away a cat. He feels the leaves and finds a small bird fell out of nest. That scene which sounds so overdramatic has to be seen and relished of this innocence and kindness. A kid of such nature never complains about his disability but there comes a point where he has the same question for god what his father has.

Every kid actors are wonderful and play their role with the same naivety and truthful joy they would be carrying around at that age. The father played by Hossein Mahjoub though is the one stealing the show. When the audience is led to believe that the film is about this boy, suddenly they are flipped through in couple of scenes to see what this man has to say. Mahjoub gives a character shifting through the film who can only be disliked and yet we feel for him. There are things in life which never have a reason and plainly exists for the nature of it. The truth is blunt and harsh but the mind beckons a reason and demands a legality for the cruel actions. Mahjoub’s character goes through that and comes out as something else.

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