Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Crimson Gold

Talaye Sorkh; drama, Iran, 2003; D: Jafar Panahi, S: Hossain Emadeddin, Kamyar Sheisi, Azita Rayeji

Hussein, a giant and a war veteran, breaks into the jewelry store in order to rob it. However, the alarm goes off and the bars lock the door, so he kills himself... A few weeks earlier, Hussein and his friend Ali - who's sister he is about to marry - talk about how much they got from stealing a purse. Living in poverty, Hussein decides to take a job as a pizza delivery boy. He observes a party at a mansion, where Iran's guards are waiting to arrest people as they exit carefree. He disguises himself as rich man in order to enter the jewelry store and check it out. The next night, he continues delivering pizzas, and a rich man invites him into his apartment. Sick of poverty, Huseein decides to rob the jewelry store.

After the government banned Jafar Panahi from directing movies - which he humorously documented in his movie about himself - people all around the world suddenly massively decided to check out his early filmography, optative to get acquainted with his opus. One of his previously banned films, "Crimson Gold", sticks out like a sore thumb: people familiar with the Iranian conservative cinema will get the impression as if here Panahi deliberately decided to depict all the provocative things which are otherwise avoided in it, since he wants his films to be alive and untrammelled by any rules. "Crimson Gold" is incredibly subversive for Iranian cinema, almost reaching the limits of what can be shown there: not only is the main character a crook, but Panahi and screenwriter Abbas Kiarostami show throughout the movie what made him go on such a path, since he encounters huge differences between the rich and the poor, the upper and lower class in Tehran - though numerous other "delicate" details are surprising as well (the sequence where Iran's soldiers are waiting outside a mansion where a party is underway, only to arrest two women who exit from it, seems almost like a cruel joke; the rich man hinting that red drops on his toilet may be blood from two women who visited him, only to later turn out to be just liquid from nail polish...). However, Panahi has a very elegant style as well - the almost 4-minute long opening scene, filmed in one take, where Hussein attempts to rob a jewelry store, is brilliant - and uses objective author's vision to give a thematically rich essay about the society he is living in, whereas the main (lay) actor, a gentle giant, is fantastically convincing in his role, and the viewers cannot but feel at least understanding for him.


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