Ideology, Revolution and Cinema

Following the pioneers of Iran's film industry, two distinct groups of filmmakers have played a dominant role in Iranian cinema: those who have been primarily interested in making commercial and profitable films and those committed to creating serious cinematic works underlining specific political or ideological themes. In the latter group, which included directors such as Bahram Beyza'i, Naser Taqva'i, Ali Hatami, Amir Naderi, Parviz Kimiavi, one director, Mas`ud Kimia'i, stands alone. In a span of nearly two decades, from 1968 to 1978, and in a series of socially-oriented films, he brought the art of political cinema to bear upon political struggle. Lamenting the disappearance of traditional values, and lambasting what he saw as pervasive venality and corruption, particularly in urban centers and within the middle class, he used his films as vehicles for not only depicting popular discontent but also encouraging acts of defiance. In a sense, he was perhaps the only filmmaker among his peers who had symbolically signaled the coming of the revolution.

In the post-revolutionary period, the cinematic career of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, as screen writer and director, represents a totally different course of development. He began his career as a committed Islamist filmmaker intent on debunking western values and deriding their influence on Iranian society. However, in a gradual transformation which has culminate in his latest film, Gabbeh [The Rug], he has set aside ideological and religious themes and has instead concentrated either on subtle criticism of the policies and practices of the Islamic regime or on depiction of life well beyond the pale of politics and political struggle.

Hormuz Key
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