Iranian film - Still Life (1974)


Still Life (Tabiate bijan)
Directed by Sohrab Shahid Saless (Iran,1974)
 
An example of ‘slow cinema’ in its very essence.
The film is integral available on YouTube. The best link for access is: www.iranian.com/main/2010/sep/still-life-shahid-sales
 
“ With A Simple Event Sohrab Shahid-Saless emerged on the Iranian film scene as filmmaker with a distinctive style. Adopting an almost documentary style, Shahid-Saless records uneventful moments in the lives of ordinary people. He has said, “A Simple Event has no plot. It is only a report on the daily life of a boy”. Working with a cast of non-professional local players, Shahid-Saless constructed his film with realistic images that almost corresponded with the temporal flow of rural life. The film is so simple and unadorned that it creates the illusion of having been made with no prepared overall design. For all its lyrical charm, A Simple Event must be considered as a prelude or a preparation for Shahid-Saless’s great picture Still Life which was awarded the Silver Bear for best direction and the critics’ prize in 1975 Berlin Festival.
 
Still Life is the monotonous, uneventful life of a switchman living in a remote, desolate spot. For the old man and his wife everything ends on the day he receives his retirement papers. A young switchman arrives and the old man has to move... to nowhere.
This poetical and elegiac picture is one of the best works produced in Iranian cinema. Shahid-Saless defends the basic human values, and at the same time exposes the horrible cruelty on which the bureaucratic system is based. All his life the old man repeats a simple job: lowering the fence on the road interesting the railway whenever a train passes. And Shahid-Saless presents the dull monotony of this life with an appropriate rhythm.
 
Sohrab Shahid-Saless (June 1943, Tehran - June 1998, Washington DC) studied film in Vienna and Paris. After returning to Iran, he first worked for the Ministry of Arts and Culture, where he made 22 films. In 1976, he left Iran for Germany, where he worked as a filmmaker until 1991, then moving to Chicago.
In his first feature, the milestone film A Simple Event (1973), he describes the everyday life of a ten-year-old boy living in a small town with an ill mother and a father struggling to make a living smuggling fish.
In contrast, Still Life (1974) explores the monotony in the life of an old railway switchman – a film that won many prizes, including one at the 1974 Berlinale. In 1975 Saless directed Far from Home (1975).
In 1976 on moving to Germany Saless released Diary of a Lover (1976), Coming of Age (1976), and Utopia (1983). Utopia is a 186 minute film regarded by critics as a “hard ghetto film” and is the tale of a pimp and his five girls.
Towards his later career he mostly directed films for television. Between 1991 and 1992 he directed Rosen für Afrika.”
 
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sohrab_Shahid-Saless.
Cited at: www.massoudmehrabi.com/articles.asp?id=-845561736 http://mubi.com/cast_members/81081.

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