Monday, October 26, 2009

The Song of Sparrows (Avaze Gonjeshk-ha)

Big Bird Running

I've only seen but a handful of films from Majid Majidi the master Iranian filmmaker, and he continues to open my eyes to Iranian cinema with his latest The Song of Sparrows, telling the tale of a down and out of luck Karim (starring regular Reza Najie), a general worker in an ostrich farm, and the life of his family in a quaint little village. Being the perpetual loser in life, sometimes as a consequence of victimization, we follow his misadventures as a small time guy being caught up with opportunities in the big city, again being the puppet on whom Chance chooses to smile upon.

There are plenty of comedic chaos in the film which makes this quite the delight to watch. In the beginning we see how he orders a group of children around when they were treading around sludge waters in an abandoned well to find the hearing aid belonging to his daughter. Taking charge over the operations and barking orders to the kids, we discover he's not exactly that inspirational a leader even amongst kids, being devoid of clever ideas whose bark is more severe than his bite. Then comes the escape of an ostrich in the farm which he and a group of fellow workers fail to recapture, leading to his dismissal from work.

With time on his hands, he journeys to Tehran to get his daughter's damaged hearing aid fixed, though the exorbitant repair costs provides additional headache. But he stumbles upon the motorcycle taxi business in the city by accident, and discovers it pays quite handsomely. Before you can say “opportunity”, he's already on to it, and in a short span of time made a lot more money than he could have imagined, meeting with a myriad of characters, and with the cash, stocking up his home with material wealth. This segment of the story was made quite enjoyable by Karim's customers, some of whom are good to him, while others seek some incredible ways to exploit.

There's a sense of measured hysteria toward the end, but I had felt it was somewhat a statement made on how the ambitions stemming from opportunity would have presented an avenue for misguided corruption, as well as the failure to see the finer things in life that mattered a lot more. The son portrays the wishes of the common folk, in wanting to seek out their interest and a better life quite off tangent with the father figure of authority, who continues to punish his son and his friends, and discouraging them from pursuing their now broken dreams, which involved quiet determination in wanting to take over and clean up a filthy water storage tank for fish rearing and profit. The patriarch figure determines and dictates what can, or cannot be done, and doesn't hesitate to use a little violence to slap his orders across.

From success to loss, the final arc was one of the most colourful, and filled with some picture perfect imagery that would leave you spellbound, especially the scene with the hundreds of goldfish flapping around in need for water. Majid Madjidi once again crafted a film that will leave you reflecting upon the layers and messages hidden behind a film which came across as deceptively simple, on one level seeking to entertain, and on another a probable commentary of life hidden underneath the simplistic veneer.

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