Wedding of the Blessed (Aroosie Khooban)
Iran 1989. Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Color, in Farsi with English subtitles. 75 mins.
"The cinematic flair which distinguished The Peddler and The Cyclist is stretched to new heights in Marriage of the Blessed". Makhmalbaf's controversial take on the Iran-Iraq war concerns a shell-shocked veteran struggling to readjust to civilian life. Haji (Mahmud Bigham), the recently discharged protagonist, is a photojournalist engaged to the daughter of a wealthy family. Tormented by nightmarish visions of his time at the front, obsessed with famine in Africa and the chaos in Lebanon, and unable to cope with the everyday indifference to poverty and injustice on the streets of Tehran, he hurtles towards another mental breakdown as his wedding approaches. "Makhmalbaf is nothing if not ambitious in the thematic and visual aspects of Marriage of the Blessed: shot in colour and black-and-white, with neo-realist scenes of the seedy side of Tehran juxtaposed against hallucinatory scenes of Haji's memories and nightmares, Makhmalbaf is. . . . The film, a kind of Iranian Born on the Fourth of July, elicited conflicting critical reaction in Tehran. Some considered it an anti-war, and even an anti-Islamic revolution film, while others viewed it as an elegy to a generation that suffered while others profited from the war. There is no question that it is a profoundly shocking portrayal of a man traumatized by the horrors of modern warfare"