Sunday, October 26, 2014

'The Silence' by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

A brilliant film with stunning visuals and a lot of symbolism!

Khorshid, a blind boy, living with his mother, has to work as a music instrument tuner struggling to make ends meet. In  his daily routine of commuting from home through a market, in a bus and a walk through scores of metal-working factories to his music shop, he often gets distracted by pleasant voices or music and goes behind the origin of the voice/music.

Though he realises that his internal penchant for music and expected perfection in its tone and pitch is making him earn scorn from his employer, he believes that he is right in going after the music. His mother's incessant reminder every day morning that he needs to get more money from his employer to pay for their rent or soon they will be in the streets, hurts him visibly as he wanders towards his music shop - but only till he hears a good piece of music!

The beauty of the scenic shots are enhanced by minimal but adequate photographic movement and the finesse of BGM for a film titled 'the silence' (almost close to the quality of live recording) are truly captivating.

The scenes where Nadereh dances when Khorshid tunes the instruments - in stunning close-ups with amazing blend-in of music are poetic! Also one can see how natural lighting and composition can be used to enhance the scope of expressions in the scene where Nadereh takes him to the spring to fetch water.

The film is also symbolic in many ways:

- the climax where Khorshid walks through the metal-working factory and commands the workers to follow a rhythm (reaching the beam of light, removing his shirt - leaves with an impactful end)
- the scenes where Khorshid wanders in search of the musician he wanted to hear, especially after being fired from the job
- the scene where Nadereh, takes Khorshid by another route to the spring to avoid a way where there is 'a person threatening girls who are not wearing scarves'. But when they pass him, he sees them playing a string instrument (a beautiful piece) with his machine gun rested away from him.

I think, these three representations capture the inner struggle of a true and budding musician who aspires to rise above the worldly trivia. The director also conveys that even when religious extremism does nothing to help the non-school going, working children like Nadereh and Khorshed, also indicating a total governmental system failure, music could be a healing medicine or bridge between the divides.

I finally figured out what was the water splashing sound that Khorshid hears whenever he plugs his ears.  When he goes after the musician, disturbed by the impending eviction by their land-lord, worse, also losing the job, he plugs his ears only to repeatedly hear wave splashing sound. When unplugs, he could hear the music and other external sounds.

The landlord everyday comes to their house in the morning by a  boat to ask for the rent and that this is the splashing noise which has filled the very sensitive Khorshid, who keeps hearing it internally when he shuts out the music!

That is, figuratively, music replaces the worries and vice versa.

A really loveable and moving film by a master craftsman!

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