Finally I've gotten my hands on a copy of Majid Majidi's Children of Heaven (not illegally of course, but from the library's collection), and have set aside some time to viewing this much talked about masterpiece. And I couldn't agree more that the film is of great quality. I've often selected titles for my pop to view since he's retired, and have gotten a call from him during a working day that I MUST watch this film. Of course I had to clarify that Jack Neo's Homerun is an adaptation of it, given that he found some similarities in plot, but I must say, any movie is worth its salt if it can move my pops.
There are so many things I like about Children of Heaven, and basically, the children Ali (Amir Farrokh Hashemian) and Zahra (Bahare Seddiqi) who play the siblings, will definitely tug at your heartstrings with their innocence. The story goes that Ali happened to lose his sister's shoes during an errand run, and coming from a poor family, that spells disaster. Not wanting to be punished for it, given that both understand the predicament they're in, and not wanting to trouble their parents with yet another expenditure, they devise an ingenious, somewhat mad hat plan, to share their shoes - Zahra goes to school in Ali's, before running back to exchange them so that Ali could attend his classes. And this leads to many comical moments and accidental scenes that will surely make you go "awww", culminating in an exhilarating foot race which will put you on the edge of your seat.
But the skill here that Majid Majidi possess, is not to sledgehammer these emotions down your throat. Children of Heaven doesn't need to, but has in itself this magic that comes forth through its simple yet meaningful story, and through the strength of both children's acting. I was pretty amazed that both Amir and Bahare have this very charming and natural charisma in fleshing out their characters, their banter being excellent, and at times, without a need for words. Truly, they are the stars of this film, and their abilities will put some established big name actors to shame too. Majid Majidi has created characters that endear, but yet not out-of-reach fictional, as they are easily identifiable given that hey, these are the kind of sibling love, or blood being thicker than water, that almost everyone would have experience, or heard about.
Being my first Majid Majidi movie, I'm definitely piqued to want to watch a whole lot more of his films. The movie has superb production values, and like any other foreign movie, opened my eyes to the cultural and physical landscapes of countries that I've yet to visit. What I liked about it also is its showcase of the family, how both Ali and Zahra show this strength in maturity with their helping around the house, and being sensible, well-liked kids. It justifies the number of awards that it has won in festivals everywhere, and if you haven't watch this, please do. It's definitely highly recommended stuff!
Code 1 DVD by Miramax Home Entertainment comes in anamorphic widescreen presentation with vivid colours and excellent visual transfer. No noticeable pops, cackles and hiss spotted. Audio is in Dolby Digital Surround Sound with language tracks in the original Farsi or the dubbed French track. Subtitles are available in English, and scene selection is over 14 chapters.
There isn't any extras in this barebone DVD, but trust me, the movie alone is gem enough to want this as a keepsake. 3 trailers are available, one being Majid Majidi's Baran (in my watch list now) (1:34), the other an independent Miramax feature Stolen Summer (1:06), and the last trailer a pat behind Miramax's own back with Miramax's Gold Bunch of Movies (1:44), showcasing the many award winning movies in their library.