The House Is Black

01/09/2011

Iran / 1962 / Farsi

Directed by Forough Farrokhzad

Still from 'The House Is Black'A male narrator begins speaking over a darkened screen, blank but not empty; there is an undeniable weight and depth to it, as the beseeching voice tells us of suffering that exists in the world that is too urgent to blot out, too heartbreaking to perceive without being moved. The words are a warning, the darkness a prelude to submersion into rooms and sights that we cannot leave behind to the oblivion of the seen and then discarded. The House Is Black was the only film directed by Forough Farrokhzad, considered by many to be among Iran’s greatest poets of the 20th Century, who died at a young age. Ostensibly a documentary about the people living in a leper colony near Tabriz, in the North of Iran near the border with Azerbaijan, the informational content of the film is interspersed with lines of Farrokhzad’s poetry, on top of lyrical montage and imagery that are befitting of both textual elements. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Forest of Bliss

01/02/2011

U.S.A. / 1986 / English

Directed by Robert Gardner

Still from 'Forest of Bliss'Forest of Bliss, Robert Gardner’s unnarrated documentary portrait of the Indian holy city of Varanasi, begins with scenes shrouded in fog, as people emerge into the gray morning to start their prayers and their workdays, and long boats slowly cut through the opaque water of the Ganges. These images hint at the density of the place they conceal, a spiritual and physical throng that will solidify with the brightness of the sun, almost as a condensing of the water molecules latent in the air. More importantly the opening shots initiate a drifting motion that continues throughout the film, metaphorically. For lives and events cluster around the river, at this most auspicious dying ground and outlet from the cycle of rebirth. Everything here is caught up in the flow of the river, the “mother” as the many praying people refer to it. Read the rest of this entry »