Iranian new wave

June 09, 2012 08:43 pm | Updated July 12, 2016 01:38 am IST

Still Life

Still Life


it is…

A film movement in Iran during the late Sixties and the Seventies, which fostered a new breed of artistically and socially inclined cinema that stood in stark opposition to industrially produced works. Although some critics attribute the term to the slew of internationally successful Persian films of the past two decades, it has been acknowledged that this particular period constitutes a film movement complete in itself.


its pioneers were...

Scholars have observed that the birth of the Iranian New Wave was closely linked to the rise of the Shah regime, under which culture became westernised and permissive. With the influx and influence of Hollywood films and European art cinema, filmmakers such as Dariush Mehrjui, Sohrab Shahid Saless, Forough Farrokhzad, Ebrahim Golestani and Parviz Kimiavi helped establish what eventually was labelled the Iranian New Wave.

How it is characterised…


The films of the Iranian New Wave stood out primarily for their deviation from star-driven mainstream norms and their director-centric approach to filmmaking. These films also were often critical of the ruling Shah regime, exposing the moral and spiritual emptiness of urban existence. They drew material from the more classical arts such as poetry and painting. They also employed innovative, unconventional and disjunctive narrative structures.


The New Wave films employed a range of aesthetic strategies that derived from schools as varied as Italian Neorealism and Nouvelle Vague. On the one hand, there are essayistic and flamboyant films with ebullient editing schemes and narrative rhythms. On the other, there are also measured, leisurely paced contemplative films, with long shots and real-time narratives, which would gain critical attention in the 90s and 2000s.


it is important...

Even if we don't consider the various individual films around the world influenced by the Iranian New Wave, the movement had a profound impact on what could be called the Second New Wave of Iranian cinema: a group of radically innovative — if not as politically overt — films during the 80s and the 90s which call into question most of our assumptions about the medium and our relationship to it.


to find it...

Sohrab Shahid Saless' Still Life (1974) chronicles the everyday routine of an old worker at a railway crossing who receives this retirement notice one day and finds himself at sea. Saless' formally daring and thematically incisive examination of alienation and anxiety is a slowly burning masterpiece that uses off-kilter stylistic strategies and a groundbreaking narrative structure.

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