Kia Rostami and Fereydun Rahnema

A connoisseur of the western cinema and a member of the "new wave" directors, Fereydun Rahnema was one of those rare Iranian filmmakers who strove to shun the lure of commercial and political considerations in his film making career. Fascinated by the history of ancient Iran and notions of national identity, he moved alone in search of novel concepts of film making and took to polyphonic and abstract cinematic ideas. In his short film Siavosh dar takht-e Jamshid, he was not so much focusing on the ruins of Iran's glorious past as searching for the true identity of their creators. In his second film, Rahnema again used the same ruins as the stage for extended dialogues between Iranian legendary and mythical figures about their ties with history and destiny.

A complete reversal of approach may be seen in Abbas Kia Rostami's cinema. Not particularly interested in metaphysical esthetics, he attempts to explore a direct and simple perception not of history and historical legends but of life and the living. In a sense, one may, in terms of cinematic conceptualization, consider Kia Rostami and Rahnema as diametrically opposed. It is interesting to note that, apart from Kia Rostami's works, the only Iranian films that have appealed to Western audiences are those dealing with child characters. For, the fascination with children is universal and the interaction between child and nature denotes not cultural truths but unfamiliar local lore and customs. The essence of childhood is its direct and unfettered bond with the world. Furthermore, in Kia Rostami's films, not only children but also the village communities are placed outside the pale of history, although one may perceive in his films, about the recent earthquake and its aftermath, an allegorical reference to how a revolution can totally uproot a society.

Youssef Ishaghpour
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