Influence of Italian Neorealism and French New Wave on Iranian Cinema

Topics: Cinema of Iran, Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi Pages: 2 (623 words) Published: December 3, 2012
The friction between the Westernization of the ruling powers and the highly religious sects led by Ayatollah Khomeini resulted in works such as The Cow by Dariush Mehrjui and Qeysar by Masoud Kimiai. Nevertheless, it was following the Popular Revolution in 1979 that the Iranian New Wave movement (as it is known today) began to truly take shape. In parts two and three, I am going to ask how and why the post-revolution cinema, particularly works from auteur Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi, took on its genre defining conventions. Despite intense interior turmoil, the past thirty years have seen Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi and the Makhmalbaf family evolve into internationally recognized names. For many, the answer lies in the form and structure seeming to be heavily influenced by Italian neorealism and the French New Wave, thus appealing to European film critics. These filmmakers (as well as many younger Iranian directors) found critical and commercial praise in following this form and style, employing features such as real locations and non-professional actors. As a result, the films share an intrinsic aesthetic commonality that has become known as the Iranian New Wave movement. In the film Stray Dogs, Marzieh Meshkini (wife of Mohsen Makhmalbaf) made explicit reference to the canonical neorealist film Bicycle Thieves as the characters Gol-Ghotai and Zahed not only watch the film but also attempt to assimilate the actions of the protagonists and steal bikes. Despite bringing into question its realist pretentions (What interest is a European film to Iranian children living in poverty? How do they have the money?), the scene nevertheless recognizes exterior influences upon the film. In response to a question on its form, Meshkini responded by saying she had been “influenced by the ideas of Cezare Zavatini, the neorealist theoretician; by his ideas of no using set-design and make-up, and making films on people’s daily live, outside the studio.” Furthermore, just...
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