Saturday, June 30, 2007


I just watched Delshodegan. Another lavish production of the Ghajar years, by Ali Hatami, about whom you will perhaps never hear unless you are an Iranian. I am not surprised that he is not discussed in the international forums that are all crazy about the Iranian cinema. Nor is Baizai. These directors are not catering to the facile digestion of the universalist postmodernists, although their style is full of such elements as well. Yet, they demand engagement with folklore, language and history. Someday, there will be an Iranian who will write about the importance of Hatami's work in reconstruction and preservation of the Iranian national heritage on celluloid during the years of chaos: revolution and war.

Anyways, this film, Delshodegan, is about the Iranian classical musicians in Ghajar era and their struggle to release their first record which takes them on a journey to France. It's an artsy film. Neither aims to nor succeeds in being entertaining. It is sensational. And a delight to eyes and ears.

So much of Iran is underexplored, a hidden jewel ... it is a collective loss ... I detest all those who have cut it off the world ... and have muddied it ... I wish I had access to enough material to write about Hatami. I don't because I am so far from Iran. For now, I just watch bad copies of his work on video CDs, and imagine how it would have looked on film and sigh: who will replace him?


Daniel said...

To some, Iran is merely a place that contains a lot of oil. What a tragedy that a country with such a rich heritage is seen as being no more that a large oil barrel.

Philistines are running our world (into the ground)!

Naj said...


Thus my resentment of all those who have cut it out of the world.

But I think there is something light at the end of philistines rulling tunnel:

Just as Khomeini's Islamic Republic created a generation of anti-religious youth; Bush-Cheney's republic of war will reconfigure America's gun ho culture. America needs to be less amnesic though.

Anonymous said...


We are not cut-of from the world.

It is the North American & EU states that have cut us off because we do not conform to their demands.

There are many many people from all over the rest of the world in Iran: Arabs, Afghans, Pakistanis, Chineses, Africans, etc.

Moreover, there are many many Iranians living and working abroad - they come and go and transmit some of what the rest of the world is doing to us.

We are not isolated; it is US and her war against Islam that is isolated.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add:

The youth are not anti-Religious; they are against Akhoond-bazi.

pen Name

Naj said...

you should let the youth speak for themselves. You keep saying you are old, no?

Anonymous said...


Yes, I am old.

Just look at the religious section of the Tehran bookfair; you will see young men and women buying religious books and from their clothes and hair you could not surmise that they would be interested in religious subjects.

Nevertheless, you have a point.

I am corrected.

pen Name

Brother Tim said...

I, too, detest anyone who cuts off Iran from the world; or cuts off any other nation, for that matter. We will never obtain TRUE peace until we STOP the clash of civilizations. I am but one man, amongst a few, but it has to start somewhere. I have posted a very truthful clip:

The music is good, also.

Naj said...

Thanks Brother Tim. I loved the clip.

Anonymous said...

you should let the youth speak for themselves.

Same to you before putting your judgment before others.

"the victory of Islamic republic of Iran while appraising the youth and scientific advancements they made, Mr Ahmadinejad declared that if revolution had not occurred, the youth of this country would have been still stuck in the misfortunes and misery they were before revolution."

Anon-Paranoid said...

Sorry for being off topic. I just put up a new post and would like too see it spread around the World.

I'm trying to shame the Signatories of the Geneva Conventions to fulfill there obligations and file War Crimes charges against those who implemented the Torture policy being used.

If they won't uphold the Treaties they signed than the World needs to know who the people are that instituted using Torture.

Please read it and consider linking too it and informing everyone you know about it so maybe we can finally hold these War Criminals accountable.

Thank you for your time and once again I apologize for being off topic.

God Bless.

Naj said...

Weekend Suggestion:

(I don't assume you are the Pen Name.)
Thanks for dropping by. Actually, I totally agree with you that the revolution was the best thing that could have happened to Iran's youth. One of those good things has been Iranian youth getting a GOOD glimpse at what a "religious state" means. I think if Iran's religious state was secure and felt it is well liked, it would not be oppressing Iran's youth as much as it does.

Now of course, you may be one of those hezbollahis who feel you are in heaven. But trust me, there are plenty of Iranian youth who blame you and Islam for things that are not even your or Islam's fault.

When I was a child, I learned how to pray from my grandmother, and I did so gladly. My religious zeal however died when IRI started forcing it. My younger siblings don't even know how to pray! Go figure!

In any case, if you have something useful to say about Hatami or Delshodegan, please do so.

I am not here to debate whether IRI is good or bad. I prefer to focus on how we can make a country for ALL Iranians.

Anonymous said...

I prefer to focus on how we can make a country for ALL Iranians.

I agree, with all due respects of your view you did in the past as example blaming Islam/Arabs for IRI problem or the conflicts between them.

The reality all people have same feelings loving peace and loving life with other exactly like you living in a country that gifted you better life and future all people washing to live and to be loved, but you and others if they value that feelings should never be dropdown by your words to blames others for affecting our lives we need to be supporter for the better future.

God Bless

Note: I am not PenName.

Naj said...

Thank you anonymous.

I am not sure I correctly understand what you have written; but if I do blame someone/something it is only and only through my personal window of experience.

I disagree with a lot of things that IRI has done; and I also agree with a lot of things that it has and is doing.

To criticize is not to blame, to criticize is to wish to improve things that you care about.

I can easily turn my back on Iran and in IRI because it has taken far more from me than it has given. But I don't, because I care for it, for you, for Pen Name, for all of us ... all of us.

Zeinobia said...

Naj, thank you for introducing us to the Iranian culture like that that's first
about the Iranian cinema , I always read about it, the critics in Egypt like it so much in Cannes, but I never have seen an iranian film except may be once the Manar Hezbollah Channel when it wanted to change its image and began to air films and Tv series ,it was an action film and it wasn't that good unfortunately but other than that I saw TV series , the successful "Holy Mary" and it was great , I wish to see a real iranian film ,because the ones in Manar Tv unfortunately are about the great IR ,I respect that but they remind some how with the promotional films produced in the Nasser era when they attack the previous era , well may be because that previous era wasn't that bad or even bad as the shah in Iran that's way I don't like it ,also it is too obvious in their message , the powerful political film is to send indirect msg without making the viewer know that there is a msg in it just like the American films ,well some of the American films not all of them in fact I am talking here about the Macarthy films era that talked and attacked the famous Senat.
Salahdin ,the famous 1960s film is considered the best Nasserite promoting film despite it was about the history and the real events that took place in the life of Salah Din , of this film is exceptional because the one who wrote script was Naguib Mahfouz himself ,one of the king of political symbolism in Egypt

about the cinema , well I don't know but I think the international critics sometimes ignore some local films makers because they don't speak or project the truth as they want
for example in Cannes they are fond of Youssef Chahin this crazy leftist most of his movies no one understands it except may be few that were produced in the 1960s under the supervision of the state, the rest of his films are speaking about his strange auto biography and they say it is great !!,Chahin some considered him the best and greatest to the rest of this nonsense despite he didn't represent the real Egyptian identity and what reflects their culture in a way that respect them for example he is not like Salah Abu-Seif nor Atef Al-Atib who were the real kings of realistic films
well pardon me but cinema is my passion after all we are called the Hollywood of the east unfortunately nowadays we became like Hollywood useless commerical films
I once found Iranian film that caused a buzz that is called the wizard or something , it said that it made the religious men mad,it was in the torrents unfortunately it wasn't translated so I couldn't watch it

David said...

If this movie were available with English dubbing or sub-titles, I would be willing to watch it. Doubt my video store or the public library will ever have it though.

Is Ali Hatami living and making his films in Iran? This film is about a pre-IRI era in Iran. Does the government approve of movies that show such a different way of life for Iranians? I'm pretty ignorant of the Iranian film industry, so I don't know what sort of censorship is applied to new films. Hopefully you can enlighten me Naj. :)

Naj said...


Thanks for giving an intro to Egyptian cinema. To my shame, I admit I know nothing about it.

The Iranian films that have made it to international festivals are plenty and you can find their DVDs in the west. I list a few that you can google up and maybe find in local video stores. I put a little star next to those that I highly recommend.

Children of heaven*
Color of god
The runner*
Life and Nothing Else
au traverse des olivier**
le vent nous emportera**
the White Balloon
Deep Breath
the Blackboard
A moment of innocence
the Circle
the secret ballot
Bashu, a little stranger***

Like any country with viable cinema industry, the Iranian cinema has its commercial and its artistic dichotomy as well. The reason why cinema has become such a viable industry, ironically, is the IRI. During the war, it served as an indispensable propaganda device and thus a cinematic infrastructure was created. Obviously IRI imposes its restrictions and those filmmakers who refuse to mitigate their art beyond recognition do not have a place in the Iranian cinema industry: Bahram Baizai is the greatest example of those "grounded" artists. But someone like Mohsen Makhmalbaf is coming from the very heart of the IRI, and he exemplifies the reformation that has happened in the hearts of many of those early revolutionaries.

A lot of films that make it to the foreign festivals do not get their screening in Iran for a long time. And a lot of those films do cater to the Cannes' taste for avantgarde.



I am afraid you won't find anything by Hatami and by English translation. Hatami died some 10 years ago. His daughter, Leila Hatami is now a star, though.
The IR, as far as I know, doesn't have any quarrel with depiction of pre-revolutionary life styles or dynasties.

And there is quite a few films produced after revolution (and having become very popular) that criticize the post revolutionary social problems.

Not everything that is produced by the Iranian film industry is a praising of IRI. That would be commercial suicide! Iran's internal film industry is very much motivated by box office success and the most successful films are those with a touch of politics, melodrama and comedy.

Iranians are very clever at knowing propagandist intentions as well; comes with hundreds of years of mistrust of the government.

Naj said...


I was wrong, IMDB stated he has dubbed films.

I recommend Madar(1991).

Anon-Paranoid said...

Hi and thanks for the link, however its broken. Gives a 404 error.

Lets see if I can post the link myself in this comment.

America Weeps.

See if this works. Thanks again.

God Bless.

I did a preview and the link I posted worked.

Naj said...

Yes Anon. It works now! :) Sorry about that.

nunya said...

you say----
"America needs to be less amnesic though."

How can we have amnesia when only those of us who actively seek out the truth ever know it to begin with?

Aardvark EF-111B said...

Qutie Interesting, a visual record from early 20th or 30th i believe ....

i wonder how such records been preserved?!? the history of the first half of the 20 century in the middle east suffered terrible abraision by successive political turmoil

such records are invaluable!

Naj said...

aardvark, Iran's history of cinema is over 100 years old. There are visual archives in Iran that although not available to public, but well preserved.

The largest collection of impressionist art outside Europe and America was purchased by Shah and it still remains in Iran. It was on display in Iran recently, 178 pieces of not-recently seen paintings.

I don't know wbout the middle east, but Iran is not disconnected from its past. Things go to hiding, but the survive. The Ghajar dynasty is one of the best preserved ones: it lives not only in image but also in literature.

The governemnt funded Farabi foundation has bult a cinema city in the outskirts of tehran in order to reconstruct Iran's past. And they have gone as back as a thousand years.

Recently, thanks to blunders such as 300, they are beginning to invest in the pre-Islamic representation as well. Iranian's national identity is not coming from figments of their imagination; there are historic records for that.

Thanks to Arab's invasion, we have lost plenty of pre-Islamic heritage, but enough has survived to extrapolate!

Naj said...


I assume any sane human being would be actively seeking truth. The alternative to calling America amnesic would be to call it retard or delusional. I didn't think it was fair or polite.

Aardvark EF-111B said...

Great News to know there is well-established organized effort to preserve iran visual art for the early 20th century.

even more to know that the Bahlawi & Ghajar collections are intact too (I Hope), in Egypt after 1952 Coup, the mutinant & ignorant leutanents foolishly wasted a huge heritage of the Egyptian Monarch.

You Know some thing Naj, the best way to preserve history is simply to bury it in sands..., for example the Pharaonic history of egypt is remarkably preserved than the more modern era (Hellenistic-Roman-Byzantine-and Even early Islamic) as the Nile edges with the desert gradually shifts leaving the previously inhabitant areas lavishly arid & dry.
[Percepolis preserved large part of its structure, though it was ravagely destroyed by Alexander coz it was abandoned]

I believe this is why the Pre-Islamic Persian history is damaged, it was always within urbanization, and liable to public abuse, not to mention the Seismic activities in the Persian Plateu

amazingly the Persian civilization extended deeply inside contemporary Iraq that the Sassanid Capital of Ctesiphon is located deeply in Iraq territory (CHK Wikipedia)

why don't you write a little about that ?!?