Friday, April 18, 2008

Censorship and Creativity

The condition of artists under authoritarian regimes has alway fascinated me. Ismail Kadare of Albania managed to maintain his integrity with a minimum of compromise, thereby earning great respect when communism finally fell in his country. Sometimes he employed the device of writing about the past while implicitly commenting about the present.
Iran has a film industry nowhere nearly as big as Bollywood, yet widely respected abroad. Films such as A White Balloon and The Cyclist have achieved a following abroad, as has the genre of modern Iranian films.
It is clear that film directors in Iran are subject to Islamic dictates of modesty. Far from the crudely yielded scissors of Stalinist censors, the restraints in Persian cinema bring home the point that rules, conventions and restrictions are as much a part of the creative process as freedom. The twin pillars of freedom and restrictions remind me of the range of expression facilitated by grammar, which prescribes and proscribes forms of linguistic usage.
One of the most beautiful love scenes I ever saw in a movie was at the end of the 2001 movie "Baran" in which the girl who was the star of the movie was taking leave of a boy who was very fond of her As she was walking, her shoe got stuck in the mud. The boy pulled it out of the mud and motioned for her to let him slip it on her foot. Her face softened for a moment as she put her foot forward. Then her expression hardened and she motioned for the boy to put the shoe down, which he did. Pulling her shod foot away, she left the indentation from her shoe to the mercy of gathering rain drops as she departed with a van taking her away. I will always remember the sadness on his face as he watched her footprint dissolve in the rain. Orthodox Jews who watch that movie would readily appreciate that scene in the film, which evokes the intensity of longing far more adeptly than any film to come out of the west.
Some Iranian singers have also remained in Iran. While I can not present an entire film on this web site, I am happy to present a music video which shows a modesty that bears little resemblance to the caricatures of Iranian life in the western press. On the dark side of artistic restraint are some of the social problems in Iran such as drug addiction, prostitution and poverty that do not benefit from the corrective light of a free press. My fondest wish would be for Western countries to combine restraint with the frankness of the free press found in democratic countries. That would make for some amazing films
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe on the commentary only Please click on the video above , which is by the group Arian and taken from You Tube

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