Saturday, January 29, 2011

Women Without Men

Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari, Iran, 2009 (8.1*)
This story links the lives of four different women living in or near Tehran, Iran during the time, 1953, that their elected President was replaced by the Shah in a CIA-backed coup, after British ships blockaded Iranian oil tankers. Their stories are unified by an idyllic garden location, and the symbology of Eden is apparent. Co-director Shirin Neshat is a visual artist turned director, known for her works exploring gender relations.

One woman is unmarried at 30, living with her brother, who considers her a family disgrace for not yet accepting any suitor. He truly cares more about his own social status in the community than his sister's happiness. Another woman is a miserable and bored prostitute. Another is the jaded wife of a long, boring marriage, whose husband has a younger mistress.

Using some indelible and haunting images, we are given a poetic story of the stuggle of women in a fundamentalist society in political turmoil. Most of the women here had their lives dominated by men, so there was no personal independence for an entire gender. The film succeeds most when it ignores politics and becomes lost in the imagery of people in nature, dwarfed by the vast landscapes here.

It's not surprising that the novel this is based on by Shahrnush Parsipur is banned in Iran, and also this film, it's an important look the plight of women in some cultures of the world, and the hopelessness faced by some of them.


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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