THE WHITE BALLOON
DIRECTOR: JAFAR PANAHI
COUNTRY: IRAN 1995
CINEMATOGRAPHY: FARZAD JOWDAT
CAST: Aida Mohammadkhani, Mohsen Kalifi, Fereshteh Sadr Orfani, Anna Borkowska, Mohammed Shakani, Mohammed Bakhtiar, Aliasghar Smadi
SUPER FEATURES: Nice child's film.
I suppose that one can always tell when a government suppresses individual freedoms. The artistic voice is reduced to creating stories, that while they are very nice, they are nevertheless a bit meaningless in a higher scheme of things, with the exception, in this film, to the little girl's adventure, which could easily become psychiatrical material later in life, were this whole situation to degenerate.
But, when a film can not indulge in any political or intellectual motives, at least a child's point of view is generally safe from the authorities. At least, one hopes, the children will grow, and become a part of this society,
and not be affected by events in their younger days.
THE WHITE BALLOON, is a nice little film. It is, if nothing else, beautifully shot, and it is done with tremendous care, and design to make sure that the story comes off as neatly as possible. But it does have several hints here and there that the society that they live is has its devious side, and while it is seen in action, it is also presented as a side that does have a little respect for its children. Both the Snake Charmer, and the Fish Seller fit
into a less refined culture, and their points of view, while credible to an adult, may not be to a child. In both of these the child does not exactly win, but Razieh does get her way somewhat. But not without effort.
This is the first film that this reviewer has seen out of Iran, and to my usual eyes, this film appears restricted, and not really free to get out and do its thing. But, it is excusable (clever) if it is a story of a young girl. In the west, this would have been represented as the Snake charmer as a thief, and ignore the girl's feelings, I suppose.
Not a great film, but a good one for children. It is charming, and it is very well photographed. It spares no detail to stay clean and looking really sharp. It's title, unless there is a special symbol relating to it that is a part of the culture, is really not an example of what the story is about. It has nothing to do with balloons. It just seems to
be there at the right time, and thus a title. And it makes one wonder if this is another way to sidestep the censors. But don't let this little bit take away from a nice story and film.
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