Iranian Cinema after the 1979 Revolution essay

In 1979 the Iranian monarchy was overthrown and replaced by the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who was the leader of the Iranian revolution and established an Islamic republic. The revolution was extremely popular with the nation and brought a profound change at an amazing speed. While the monarch regime embodied by Pahlavi dynasty spread westernizing policies, Ayatollah Khomeini replaced them with theocracy based on guardianship of the Islamic jurists. Western culture was announced a plague and its any intoxicating manifestations were to be eliminated. Both liberal capitalism and communism were rejected by the slogan “Neither East, nor West ”“ Islamic Republic!” (Dabashi 2007, 31). It goes without saying that the new regime brought new standards of living and a lot of changes to different spheres of social life. Art could not avoid the influence of Khomeini reforms either, and the Iranian cinema together with other cultural fields was crucially impacted by the Revolution 1979.

In fact, Iranian cinema has always been known for its high quality, plenty of talent and innovation, distinct style and cultural references. Before revolution there were about twenty five commercial firms produced annually in Iran, and by the end of decade the number was even growing. Then, in early 1970s the Iranian directors promoted the so-called New Iranian Cinema, but for the new regime of Ayatollah Khomeini they were too free-thinking and controversial, and most of them were pushed into exile. After 1979 the amount of films produced annually released severely, and the circle of themes covered in the new product was also narrowed. Sexual display was prohibited, and any intersections with Western culture were seriously persecuted as well. A lot of films were made, but a great part of them was banned not passing the state censorship and those films never reached their audience even if the artistic sense of those works was unsurpassed. Many talented commercial directors were persecuted for their works. One the most visible faces of Iranian cinema was, for example, Mohammad Ali Fardin, but his films were “a vanguard” and “embarrassment to Iranian national identity and his films ”” which depicted romance, alcohol, scantily-dressed women, night-clubs, and a lifestyle now condemned by the Islamic government” (Dabashi 2001, 200). Because of those threats the films of Fardin were banned, but never lost their popularity. It was forbidden to raise any sexual topics or to challenge the positive role of Revolution, and such films as Time of Love and The Night of Zaiandeh were banned for “dealing with physical love and for raising doubts about the revolution” (Mottahedeh 59). What is more, it was flatly banned to depict women without headscarves. At Five in the Afternoon was banned for Samira Makhmalbaf’s insufficiently modest headscarf. Kakadu by Tahmineh Milani did not pass censorship because of depicting beautiful eight year-old girl who is not wearing a headscarf (Mahani 44).

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