Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ballad of Tara (چریکه تارا)

The Ballad of Tara is made by the Iranian Master, Bahram Beyzai. It was made in the year of the revolution, 1979, and banned as soon as the Islamic Republic took place!

The film features one of Iran's best female theater actors, Sousan Taslimi, who was forced off of screen and stage, after the revolution, because "her face and beauty transpired too much charisma and force"[see this interview with BBC Persian]. After memorable performances in several of Baizai's films (best known to the outsiders, Bashu the Little Stranger), under pressure from the censors, she migrated to Sweden in 1989 to become a leading artist in her new home.

The Ballad of Tara is a metaphoric depiction of women as the guardian of the goodness, the courage and the historical continuity. Tara doesn't know that only she can be the guardian of the historic sword. Unaware of the significance of the sword, Tara hands it in to one of her male neighbors. But, he returns it in fury and cries that the sword invited haunting ghosts to his house; ruining his calm and peace. Tara, 'instrumentalizes' the historical heritage, using the sword to harvest, to defend her children from a mad dog and fierce ghosts, and finally fighting the almighty waves of the sea to claim her historic lover, the ghost warrior, back.

Beyzai's films are almost invariably centered on a strong female lead, for he believes:
    It is in a patriarchal society that the lack of presence of a man in the leading role invokes critical attention ... the greatest disaster of patriarchy, where grownups decide for children and men for women and the government for the real people and the intellectual for the imaginary ones, is that it is the women and children who suffer the consequences of the men’s decisions. The victims of patriarchal self-centeredness are not only the women and children, but also many a man. These people are my subjects. Against a masculine tyranny, the children build up a hatred that will make them the martyrs or the tyrants of the future. The women, on the other hand, have their internal defense mechanism and a subtle wisdom that balances them against the violence of the world. [source: Iran Chamber Society]

Minimalist in conversation and rich in texture and cinematography, the film is recently made available on YouTube, with French subtitles.