'Mohsen Makhmalbaf: The Poetic Trilogy'
(Shaghayeh Djodat, Hossein Moharami, Rogheih Moharami, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: One of the preeminent figures of Iranian cinema, Mohsen Makhmalbaf has written and directed an impressive array of acclaimed films, winning accolades at international film festivals and the admiration of world cinema audiences. This collection presents three of Makhmalbaf's most lyrical films which the director has termed his Poetic Trilogy.
Blu-ray Verdict: 'Gabbeh' (which here is now presented in a rather stunning new restoration) tells of an elderly couple who stop by a stream to wash a vividly woven traditional Persian rug (Gabbeh).
A beautiful woman, depicted in the rug's elaborate design, suddenly appears and tells a heart-rending story of love and loss.
In truth, and aside from the wondrous story line, the actual overall cinematic beauty of costume and scenery is enthralling all unto itself. Unriched in some brilliant color spectrum throughout, the fact that the love story that it brings for is as captivating is just a bonus.
At its heart a romantic film, of course, it will leave you, the viewer with a grand sense of completion and fulfillment. A wonderful, and did I mention oh-so colorful film that brings together both love and art in equal measure.
Surrounded by the cultural strictures which have a mythic overlay at every move, every path taken, it is also very true to say that you might wish to have a second viewing - as just the one viewing to follow and absorb the story line is doing the film an injustice, in my humble opinion.
A film imbued with the ideas of Sufism, 'The Silence' (also now brought forth via a stunning new restoration process) tells of Khorshid, a young blind boy from Tajikistan who earns rent money for his family by tuning rare instruments, but who becomes enraptured by the sonorous music he hears on his way to work each day.
Subtitled in English, this story of a 10-year old blind boy's experiences is visually and aurally intertwined. Filled with striking scenes and hypnotic music, the production is unique and riveting.
The camera wanders through the bazaars and shops of Tajikistan providing a glimpse into a culture not well known to Westerners. The interplay between the boy and the beautiful young woman who acts as his eyes is touching, filled with humor, and played with a simple elegance.
The distractions encountered by the boy on his way from home to work are a delight. Supporting roles are well played. The harmonies of the music, the city, and everyday life produce a funny and profound film well worth watching.
Finally, 'The Gardener' is an imaginative documentary which follows Makhmalbaf, and his son Maysam, to Israel to investigate the Bahá'í Faith, a religion with 7 million followers, which originated in Iran 170 years ago.
Containing several scenes that raised intriguing questions about the role of faith in humanity's evolution and other scenes that answered those questions through the unfiltered testimony of individual believers, 'The Gardener's cinematic style was a little surreal for my taste, but it accentuated the moments of realism; like comets occasionally streaking across a crowded night sky.
Interrelated with their debates about religion, we have interviews with Baha'i followers who have come to the World Center from all parts of the world (there is for example a gardener working in the beautiful gardens who is from Papua New Guinea). The close-ups of flowers, trees and other elements in the gardens gives a nice pantheistic feel to the movie also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restorations of The Silence and Gabbeh from the original camera negatives
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of all three films
Original Persian soundtracks with uncompressed LPCM audio
Newly translated English subtitles
Audio commentary on Gabbeh by critic Godfrey Cheshire
Poetry in Motion: An Interview with Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an in-depth conversation between the Iranian auteur and film critic Jonathan Romney, newly produced for this edition
Mohsen with Closed Eyes, an imaginatively filmed archival interview with Makhmalbaf on The Silence
Stills and collections gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by film academic Negar Mottahedeh and Mohsen Makhmalbaf
IN PERSIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES