Projections - Movie Reviews

The Color of Paradise The Color of Paradise

It's obvious from viewing The Color of Paradise that Iranian director Majid Majidi enjoys making one feel the life of a child palpable.  He did it poignantly in the acclaimed Children of Heaven from last year.  Again, he does it in a fable of a child and his father, with the young boy being blind.  And the director offers an insight to the truth in the world of Mohammad (Mohsen Ramezani) that combines a naturalistic elegance with a tenderness that is kept with hand on the heart, that, like children, achieves a universality.

A blackened screen starts things as tapes are heard by Mohammad, who's at Tehran's Institute for the Blind.  A deftness with school materials is evident from the outset, but much of the film's spiritual power comes from the outdoors.  As summer vacation arrives, an affecting, encroaching shot penetrates the young man's abilities in a search through leaves of a tiny bird, and its return to its nest that seems odd but is remarkably uplifting.

Majidi's camera never appears intrusive, being an omniscient force, that has a freshness, like being outside, and quickly the chief conflict of the film appears, with his late arriving father Hashem (Hosseim Mahjub) who asks the teachers if his son can stay at their place.  But it's not a welfare agency, so they trek home to a higher elevated northern Iran location.  Mohammad feels the lush landscapes with its striking hues, but Hashem remains pensive, ashamed of his son's disability, as the coal laboring widower has an opportunity to remarry into a rigid Islamic family.  With Hashem sulking, Mohammad finds joy in touching pebbles in a stream, using them like braille.

The pastoral countryside provides some meaningful scenes with Granny (Salime Feizi) who receives a gift from her grandson who finds her wrinkled hands to be gentile.  And Feizi knows her son's anguish as she is more worried about him than Mohammad who is at peace with nature, and in tears when he can't go and play with his cheerful sisters, Bahareh and Hanyeh.

The narrative drifts into formula as the selfish Hashem takes his son from the farm for his own good to learn woodworking from a blind carpenter who started working when he was Mohammad's age.  When the craftsman senses the tears from the child, who feels his blindness will always shut himself from those he loves, he is speechless.  The new mentor agrees with the idea of faith and using your hands to see the unseen.

Majidi's tension from a river wild is a lofty way to lend a hand to realize the truth that has been misunderstood and never felt.

The Color of Paradise

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