Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Film Studies

The Outcry of the Crow: Localizing Modernity in Iran

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Film Studies

The Outcry of the Crow: Localizing Modernity in Iran

Article excerpt

Résumé: Cet article fait l'étude de Ia question de la modernité et de l'identité telle que représentée dans le cinéma de Bahram Bayzai et porte une attention particulière au film Kalagh (1977). Dans la première partie, la discussion cherche à montrer la signification du concept de modernité dans l'esthétique de Bayzai, et tout spécialement dans Kalagh, qui aborde explicitement la question. Le film a été réalisé pendant les bouleversements révolutionnaires en Iran, au moment où les Iraniens considéraient sérieusement le remplacement de la modernisation occidentale du Shah par une modernité reposant sur une culture et une histoire propres à l'Iran. Cet article montre comment l'attention particulière que ce film porte à l'individu-sujet plutôt qu'à la société, élément caractéristique de la transformation sociale et culturelle, est essentiellement moderne. La troisième partie de l'article défend l'idée que la façon dont est représentée la femme, qui dans le film est en quête d'identité, est une allusion à la crise d'identité iranienne plus générale qui a marqué la révolution et est aussi une façon de contester le projet de modernisation imposé par l'état. L'article met l'accent sur le regard personnel cré par l'emploi d'une approche théâtrale et par le motif dramatique crée par le montage et l'emploi du champ-contrechamp.

MODERNITY: A CRUCIAL CONCEPT IN THE CROW

While the representation of the concept of modernity in Bahram Bayzai's filmmaking is a crucial issue in Iranian film history, it has not received the comprehensive and integrated analysis it deserves. This article explores the relations between modernity and Bayzai's films with a main emphasis on one of his movies, The Crow Kalagh, 1977). ' As a scholar, translator, playwright, and filmmaker, Bahram Bayzai has explored this issue in the works he made before and after the Islamic revolution in 1978-9. His cinematic approach is philosophically modern in the sense that it is an effort to shed light on the problems that puzzle contemporary humans.

The notions of modernity and identity are major themes in almost all of Bayzai's films. My analysis, however, concentrates on The Crow as a landmark in the history of the Iranian film industry because it consciously investigates the subject of identity and its confrontations with history and modernity. Furthermore, considering the historical context in which the film was made, its topic becomes even more significant. The production and screening of The Crow coincided with the revolutionary turmoil and the overthrowing of a 2500-year Persian monarchy. It was also a historical moment when Iran seriously challenged "Western" modernization.

The Crow is about the secular urban middle class that was overlooked by the newly established Islamic government which was heavily indebted to the anti-Shah and anti-Western protests of the religious working-class.2 Ironically, Western critics also favored the representation of the poor in Iranian social realist movies. Since the West was more eager to see a neo-realist portrayal of rural Iran,3 the representation of the majority urban population and their concerns tended to be overlooked in international film festivals. For example, while Bayzai's Bashu: The Little Stranger (Bashw Gharibih Kuchak, 1986), which is about a war-struck rural boy in a northern village of Iran, was highly acclaimed both inside and outside Iran, The Crow, with an urban theme, was not well received on the film festival circuit. The Crow, a significant picture about the doubts, unsettlements, and transformations of Iranian society, was screened only briefly in Iran because of the revolutionary turmoil. The film was left abandoned in archives and not acknowledged by the critics who were more interested in examining the aesthetics of (rural) poverty in political and cultural scenes of post-revolutionary Iran.

Nevertheless, Bahram Bayzai has been one of the most popular and wellrespected filmmakers in Iran since the 1970s. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.