25 July, 2014 / Ramazan 26, 1435

290-inside-Official-movie-poster-for-'The-Color-of-Paradise'
Official movie poster for 'The Color of Paradise'.

Watch the trailer here before proceeding.

There are always certain films that leave a mark upon us. Majid Majidi’s The Color of Paradise is one of those films; even if it doesn’t make you cry, its innocence and beauty profoundly affects you.

The Color of Paradise is a simple, yet powerful story of a blind young boy, Mohamed who is a student boarder at an institute for the blind in Tehran. His father, Hashem who is a widower, two sisters (Haniyeh and Bahareh) and his paternal grandmother (who everyone affectionately calls Aziz) live in a village up in the mountains near Tehran. The father is planning to marry a woman and he hasn’t told her or her family about Mohamed. So he tries to find ways to get rid of his son.

Meanwhile, Mohamed is ecstatic to be home for the summer and to meet his sisters and grandmother after being away for a long time. What he doesn’t know is that his father wants to get rid of him so he can remarry a woman in the village. At least it is not apparent to him until much later in the film when he’s being taken away by his father who wants to apprentice him to a well-known blind carpenter in the vicinity.

The real beauty of the film lies in those little moments of the film where we see Mohamed at one with the nature around him. Even in the city, he is still at one with nature. And why should he not be? He is closer to the wind, the plants, the birds and animals around him than we, the sighted, could ever be. When he travels to his village accompanied by his father, there are moments where Mohamed is lost in his own little world, trying to find God around him. He takes a rock, sand from a seashore, a weed or two and ‘reads’ as if he were reading his Braille books. This continues when he gets to his village where he visits the fields on the surrounding mountainside with his grandmother.

When Mohamed meets his litte sister after returning to his village.
When Mohamed meets his litte sister after returning to his village.

Mohamed finally finds God in the last scene as his lifeless body lies in his father’s arm. The clouds break and sunlight shines upon the father and son after a long spell of relentless rain and subsequent floods. When the sunlight falls upon Mohamed’s hand, it starts to move in the familiar rhythm, as if he is ‘reading’ the signs that God is near him. Then his hand turns around so that his palm his facing the sunlight, as if God has held his hand.

A screencap of Mohamed from the film.
A screencap of Mohamed from the film.

The dialogues are equally, if not more, powerful as the script. For example, the scene where Mohamed tearfully tells the blind carpenter what he had learnt in his school in Tehran about God (quoted below) is probably the most heartrending moment in the film because it follows the heartbreaking scene where Mohamed realises his father is going to take him away from home permanently.

Our teacher says that God loves the blind more because they can't see. But I told him if it was so, He would not make us blind so that we can't see Him. He answered "God is not visible. He is everywhere. You can feel Him. You see Him through your fingertips." / Now I reach out everywhere for God till the day my hands touch Him and tell Him everything, even all the secrets in my heart.”

Majid Majidi
Majid Majidi.

Majidi’s treatment of Mohamed’s relationships is executed brilliantly. On one hand, his sisters and grandmother treat him as if he were just another young boy. He helps them in household chores which becomes a way of spending quality time for the four of them. He runs around the fields, holding hands with his sisters, laughing and playing. It is as if there is nothing missing in Mohamed. But on the other hand, when he is with his father, the relationship is completely reversed. Mohamed is much more subdued and quiet while he is with his father, probably much more aware of the fact that he can’t see.

The scenes where he and his father travel back to their village. There is hardly a word exchanged between them, unlike the constant chatter when he is with his sisters and grandmother. While he is with his father, Mohamed is even more lost in his own world, trying to find God in the wind that rushes past as he sits by the window in a bus, or amongst the pebbles as the river flows over them. Clearly, Hashem treats his son differently because he cannot see, and that forms the essence of the film. That is where Mohamed starts to feel that no one really loves him when actually he has his sisters and grandmother who do love him. However, his sisters are oblivious of their father’s plans to take him away and his grandmother is not strong enough to retaliate against her son. That makes Mohamed’s belief that he is unloved much more heartrending, yet innocent.

Mohamed, reading out in his sister's classroom and everyone watching him closely.
Mohamed, reading out in his sister's classroom and everyone watching him closely.

Another scene that is particularly notable for its poignancy is where all the children at the institute for the blind are reunited with their parents after spending a whole term away from them. As they can’t see, their reunion is all the more moving because their ways of recognising their parents is different from the rest of us. Watching a little child’s face break into a wide smile because he recognises the person who comes over and envelops him into a big hug as his mother and hugs her back a moment later is probably one of those genuinely adorable moments you will ever see on screen.

The Color of Paradise is another example of how advanced Iranian cinema is, especially in regard to the level of creativity found amongst Iranian filmmakers. Technological advancement is not the only reason why Iranian films are a treat to watch. It is actually their creativity that actually puts all the resources available to them to a good use and you have brilliant films like this one as the output.

So don’t miss out on The Color of Paradise, especially if you have watched and enjoyed Majidi’s earlier films like Children of Heaven and The Willow Tree. I would also recommend it to those who are interested in Iranian art and literature in general.

 

View Dawn.com’s weekly classics archive here.

 


soonha-abro-80
The author is a Multimedia Producer at Dawn.com


The author is a Multimedia Producer at Dawn.com. She can be reached at soonhaabro@gmail.com

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (16) (Closed)


Vikram
Dec 29, 2012 04:53pm
This is a very beautiful movie. A great watch by itself and a good introduction to Iranian cinema as well. Baran, The Song Of Sparrows, A Separation, About Elly, Children of Heaven .... the list of great Iranian movies made in the recent past is very impressive.
MA
Dec 28, 2012 03:04pm
Love this film! Rang -e Khuda has beautiful cinematography, the Iran shown is so beautiful!!! and the acting from the child stars is amazing! Really a classic piece from Majidi!!!
Rahul butt
Dec 29, 2012 04:40am
Better than bollywood movies for sure.
S. A. M.
Dec 29, 2012 02:51pm
But there is a limit to melodramatics you cannot always ponder to deep to appreciate the intricacies. If you would ask me I would go for light commercial movie than to a heavy sad artistic saga. Shall we say it is time for the masala movie (name of Dabang !! comes to my mind)
Taqi Ramzan
Dec 29, 2012 03:44pm
its not affectionately ,but, all the iranians mostly call their grandmothers' AZIZ
Taqi Ramzan
Dec 29, 2012 03:41pm
due to many religious constraints ,,,iranians always use child stars for their expression of the most delicate ideas ,,,,,,however ,,using children is one of the most difficult tasks in making a movie as well,,,,,,,,,thumbs up for iranians and wish that Pakistanis may as well follow their foot steps ,,,,watched this movie an year ago and really loved it ,,,and am a die hard fan of iranian movies and have watched many of them ,,and every time enjoy them the most ,,more than hollywood movies..............
S. A. M.
Dec 29, 2012 02:23pm
Iran really is amazingly beautiful. When I went to Iran I was surprised to see how beautiful is and definitely art, culture and mannerism is found in abundance amongst the masses as well as the way they live their houses, streets etc is such wonderful experience for visitors.
Abbas
Dec 29, 2012 05:24am
One of the best of all times, Classic, strong and energy within the characters. Majid Majidi has produced many files like this.
Soonha Abro
Dec 29, 2012 05:30am
Agreed! :)
rajiv
Dec 28, 2012 11:53pm
One of the very best movies i ever saw.... Majid Majidi made movies with almost same cast always and with limited budget but always tookup subjects that touch our heart... i absolutely loved this movie...
Waqas
Dec 29, 2012 08:48am
O ya! that was excellent movie, I started watching Iranian movie recently and The Separation was my debut Iranian movie, then i watched couple of other movies Color of Paradise was one of them. Its right up there with another Hollywood flick, I would recommend all of you to have a go at "Children of Heavens" its another masterpiece of Majid Majidi.
ranjeeta mahraj
Dec 29, 2012 06:40am
i have never seen this movie but after reading this story i deliberately wan to watch this movie :)
Mir Ali
Dec 28, 2012 04:10pm
The correct translation is Rang-e-Behisht in Urdu as well as Farsi. Colors of Paradise.
taranveer singh
Dec 28, 2012 08:26pm
children of heaven is one among my favorite movies :)
Qaiser Bakhtiari
Dec 28, 2012 04:39pm
Thank you so much for this article. Just when I was losing hope for Dawn Newspaper's, you rescued it. Rang-e-Khuda is one of the movies that opened my eyes to the Iranian cinema and all its magnificence. Once you get accustomed to the subtle nuances of these movies you tend to appreciate them more. This movie is truly a piece of art and your recognition of it through your column requires gratitude from all cinema lovers.
sam
Jan 06, 2013 08:55am
my favorite movie of all time