CFS takes viewers to ‘Paradise’

Anne Boyd

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 left that nation’s cinematic culture in ruins, and it is only within the last two decades that Iran’s filmmakers have returned to international distinction. Throughout this transition, Iranian cinema has enjoyed a growing global audience, initially with cineastes and other film connoisseurs, but increasingly with more mainstream viewers, especially in America.

One of the most prominent figures in modern Iranian cinema has undoubtedly been writer/director Majid Majidi. In 1998, Majidi gained international prominence for his “Children of Heaven,” the first Iranian work to garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

This weekend, as the fifth film in this spring’s “Struggles of the Spirit” cycle, Villanova’s Cultural Film and Lecture Series will screen Majid Majidi’s 1999 work, “The Color of Paradise,” a tale of a child’s innocence that examines the interaction between faith and humanity.

“Color of Paradise,” or Rang-e khoda in its native Farsi (literally, “color of god”), tells the story of eight-year-old Mohammad, a blind boy just beginning his summer vacation.

Mohammad’s lack of sight enhances his other senses, allowing him his own unique appreciation of beauty: he is able to “feel out” beauty where those with sight see none. His summer is filled with his love for nature and the world around him, and he explores his rural home showered in the love of his sisters and grandmother.

Mohammad’s widowed father, however, is deeply embarrassed by his son. As Mohammad’s disability further strains the fractured family still struggling with the recent death of their mother, the father becomes progressively more frustrated, ultimately resigning his son to an apprenticeship with a blind carpenter.

Despite all he must overcome, Mohammad, in the end, resolves to live for a world of wonder and happiness, despite his father’s misery and loneliness. His blindness will help him to feel God even if his father cannot.

Majidi’s films often focus on the innocence of young children and their triumphs over the adult world that has fallen from the purity of childhood. Coupled with his strong visual sense, many critics have dubbed Majidi “the Iranian Spielberg” and with good reason. He is quickly becoming one of the most successful Iranian film makers, with “Color of Paradise” alone winning over ten important international film honors and headlining at major film festivals all over the world.

Majidi uses inventive techniques throughout the film to allow viewers to share Mohammad’s perceptions. The camera often frames Mohammad alone, selectively filtering out unnecessary sounds and allowing the audience to focus on the rich aural landscape the boy hears, such as birds in the forest and seagulls flying close to shore. “Color of Paradise” is certainly a spiritual story, yet it is never diminished by overt preaching. Through Mohammad’s innocence and strength, Majidi reminds us of the wondrous world we all live in, of the delight that can be found in the simple things that we all too often take for granted.

“Color of Paradise” will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Monday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students with ID, and $5 for all others. Exclusive to the Monday showing will be guest speaker Nasser Chour, from the communication department. Chour will provide an introduction to the film and lead a discussion afterward.

For more information, please call x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS web site: