The Film Career of Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Mohsen Makhmalbaf was born in Tehran, Iran in 1959. He became involved in an underground Islamic militia group, he was arrested and imprisoned when he was seventeen. He was released in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, during his four year incarceration he had an intellectual renaissance, abandoning politics in favour of art and literature, especially cinema.

His films explore the individual’s relationship with their social and political environment. He is immersed in the neo-realist spirit, his socialist films contain little plot but concentrate on the ordinary lifes of his characters and the everyday occurrences which befall them. Much of his work contains what Makhmalbaf himself defines as ‘poetic realism’ which reconstructs autobiographical, personal history and creates poignant of film.

To blur this demarcation between art depicting life and life leading to art, Makhmalbaf smashes the fourth wall completely and brilliantly, such as in A Moment of Innocence (1996) when we see characters rehearsing a scene with the cameraman and then joining a passing funeral to help carry the coffin. Throughout Moment of Innocence, the actors are coached by the real-life characters whom they are representing. He came to worldwide recognition with The Peddler (1987), it was also the first film that began to question the values that he had espoused in his earlier work. He became a controversial figure with two films he made in 1991 – A Time of Love and The Nights of the Zayandeh-Rood, both been banned for dealing with physical love and raising doubts about the Iranian revolution, bringing upon him the wrath of the fundamentalist groups that earlier been his allies. In 1996, two of his films A Moment of Innocence and Gabbeh were refused distribution in Iran after they were screened at the Fajr Film Festival, an annual showcase in Iran for domestic films.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net

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