When Doves Fly – Rediscovering ‘Baran’ (Iran 2001 – 94 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - March 20, 2014
When Doves Fly – Rediscovering ‘Baran’ (Iran 2001 – 94 mins)

In present-day Tehran, poor Afghan refugee Najaf, has found work on a busy construction site. One day while on the site, Najaf breaks his foot. Unable to work he decides to dress his daughter Baran as a boy, and with a different name, sends her off to work in his place. The site foreman is unimpressed with the ‘lads’ work and assigns 17 year old tea boy; Lateef, to take over the heavy lifting duties. The angry Lateef begins a mild campaign of bullying towards Baran, who has taken over the easy job of tea boy. However, the bullying and teasing soon changes when Lateef catches a glimpse of Baran removing her burka, revealing her long dark hair. Realising she is a girl, Lateef now begins looking out for Baran, protecting her, yet never revealing to her that he knows who she is.

‘Baran’ is another one of those simple yet life-affirming tales, and one that can leave a lasting impression on you. The acting is very good, and although this is the only screen credit for Zahra Bahrami, she is excellent as Baran, remaining silent throughout, yet saying so much with just a glance or look. As Lateef, Hossein Abedini is perfect as the petulant youth, learning about love from an unlikely situation. Mohammad Amir Naji is also very good, as the firm but fair construction boss.

Influential director Majid Majidi began his career as an actor, before he started writing and directing. Two of his earlier films; ‘Children of Heaven’ (’97) and ‘The Colour of Paradise’ (’99), were equally as poetic and massively popular, winning festival awards and breaking box office records.

The appearance and sound of doves appear to play a symbolic part in the movie. The most poignant being a very important scene at the films end. This haunting scene has Lateef helping Baran pick up a basketful of food that she has just dropped. Without speaking, Baran gives Lateef a brief smile, before dropping her burka over her head. According to director Majidi, the sound that you hear is not the sound of the burka going over Baran’s head, but the sound of a bird taking flight, as if she were going back to heaven (like an angel). The director’s meaning of this was that Baran’s job on earth was now over, and she had changed this reckless young man for the better. Once a lazy, carefree youth, Lateef has now learned of compassion and love for other people. I always thought this was a lovely explanation for a beautiful, yet simplistic moment.

With minimal dialogue, ‘Baran’ is an easy film to follow, with the character’s quiet looks and actions telling the story. What begins as a gritty urban drama ends up a charming love story between two diverse people in an unlikely setting. Deservedly winning the Best Film award at Montreal that year, ‘Baran’ remains an exquisite and emotionally charged movie.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *