My foray into Iranian cinema: Part III – Majid Majidi’s Baran(2001)


baranFor the last couple posts I’ve been focusing on Iranian films instead my usual Bollywood theme.  The other posts have been on directors Abbas Kiarostami and Tahmineh Milani, and this time I saw a film by director Majid Majidi.  Baran (2001) is a film the mesmerized me.  It was so beautiful to watch and was nearly free of dialogue, telling its story through stark, yet beautiful images.

Baran (Persian: باران) is a 2001 Iranian film directed by Majid Majidi, based on an original script by Majid Majidi. The movie is set during recent times in which there are a large number of Afghan refugees living on the outskirts of Tehran. Almost a silent movie, Baran won a number of awards both nationally and internationally for the director and writer Majid Majidi. The movie is about maturing of the character Lateef and his silent romantic interests in an Afghan refugee, Baran, in the construction site where he works. It is necessary to describe the work force at the site to fully appreciate the movie. At the point the story is told, in 2001, there are many Afghan refugees in Iran due to the war with Russia and also due to the oppressive regime of Taliban. There are many Afghan refugees working at the site for far less wages than the Iranian workers. In Iran, the Afghan refugees are not allowed to stay anywhere except the refugee camps unless authorized and hence the Afghan workers need to travel everyday from the camp to the work site. The Afghan refugees also need authorization cards to work in the country but it is difficult to obtain. Hence many of the Afghans are working illegally which is depicted in the movie. Lateef, who is an Iranian, is having an easy time at the construction site with the job of making tea and lunch. He always seems to be making witty remarks which are not taken by some of the other characters in a similar manner, especially Faraj. He is also shown to be very careful with his money and saves every single pocket money he gets. He is also shown to be intolerant towards doves. One day when Lateef comes to work he finds one of the Afghan workers, Najaf, has been injured and is being taken to the hospital. The next day, Najaf sends his son – Rahmat – to work, since he is unable to work with a broken leg and he has many children to take care of. Rahmat is a weakling and is unable to do to the heavy manual work at the construction site. Hence, the contractor, Memar, allocates Lateef’s easy job to Rahmat and Lateef has to help with the construction of the building. Lateef is sore about losing his comfy job and continuously torments Rahmat until he learns by accident that Rahmat is actually a girl. He is really sorry about his early acts and vehemently tries to be protective about Rahmat at the work site, trying to save her from Faraj and the inspectors. (source)

Majidi_Majid

For more information of the film, and other Majidi films, consult his website.  I also found a nice review of Baran HERE.

Here we are in the dismal, yet somehow lovely work site near Tehran:

baran.setting

On “her” first day of work, Rahmat (Zahra Bahrami), an Afghan refugee, is welcomed by Lateef (Hossein Abedini).  He offers Rahmat tea and even gives some work tips and bit of help here and there.baran.tea

Yet when Rahmet is given Lateef’s chai wallah job, Lateef is enraged, but not for long because he discovers Rahmet (aka Baran) is really a girl and that he has feelings for her.

baran.work

He even helps protect her from work site inspectors looking for the illegal immigrants working at the site.

baran baran.burka

“Rahmat” has to leave the work site and Lateef spends time tracking her down, eventually finding her.  Lateef’s search is difficult and lonely, but he gets unexpected support and encouragement from strangers along the way.

baran.god

baran.lateef

I had so many images from this film that are still playing in my mind.  One of the most gorgeous but sadly poignant scenes was when Lateef spies Baran from afar working in harsh conditions, pulling large rocks from an icy cold river.

baran.labor

If you’re interested, you can see Baran HERE. I’d also like to see Majidi’s 1997 filmChildren of Heaven (Bacheha ye Aseman) which sounds wonderful.  Please let me know if you’ve seen any of Majidi’s films and what you thought of them.

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15 thoughts on “My foray into Iranian cinema: Part III – Majid Majidi’s Baran(2001)

  1. Pingback: Bollywood taught me Farsi! « Bollywood Food Club

    • Nicki-ji,
      Please stop back and tell me what you thought after you see one, or do a post. Great that you have a connection. Thanks for your visit yaar. :)

    • Anonymous-ji,

      I was lucky enough to find them at my local library in the twin cities area, but all the titles I discussed are available via Netflix. If you don’t have access to Netflix where you are but they were all issued by this company:

      http://www.irdvds.com/

      The link to watching Baran is in the post above and here it is again:

      Good luck!

  2. I watched Baran just now. Absolutely loved it…Majidi’s signature style is he always close his movies in unfinished yet finished manner. I have so far watched 4 of his movies and each one of them are just beautiful.

    Can anyone tell what does the ending of baran signify?

    • Anonymous-ji,
      Sorry I’m only now seeing your comment months later, I apologize for this! Below you will see a great answer to your question by Irfan, with which I agree. It’s been over 2 years since I watched Baran and that stark and sad, and even empty ending is still memorable, which is a good thing. I remember it was sad, and yet beautiful, because he did his best to show Baran that he cared, and certainly that would be a memory for her to hold on her way back to certain difficulty in Afghanistan. Thanks for your comment, and I should really continue to watch more of Majidi’s films. I like how you put it: he always close his movies in unfinished yet finished manner, well said

  3. i personally wonder by apparently at the unfinished end of the movie and it sadened me as well not to c that the love story is consummated but the last scene of heavy rain may be an indication that one’s goodness should not be aimed to secure rewards but like a rain it should shower on all without any interest . anyhow its my perception of the movie .

    • Irfan-ji,
      I believe you are correct, and the love is not wasted even if their love does not continue. It was a beautifully sad ending. Thanks for your comment. :)

  4. mean that one’s goodness should not aims at rewardes but rather like a rain it should shower on all . the last scene of heavy rain signifies this anyhow it is my perception of reality .

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