Part of the film series
Iranian New Wave 1960s-1970s (November 2 - 22, 2013)
Dariush Mehrjui. 1969. Iran. 100 min. B/W. Digibeta. With English subtitles.
Mash Hasan (Ezzatolah Entezami) is the owner of the only and much treasured cow in his impoverished village. One day while he is away, his beloved cow is mysteriously killed. Afraid to hurt Mash Hasan’s feelings, fellow villagers tell him the cow has run away. Distraught, Mash Hasan descends into madness and assumes the identity of the cow, as the village deals with a collective psychological breakdown. Although funded by the state, the film was banned for a year due to the unabashed depiction of poverty in the countryside — a stark contrast to the image of modernization promoted during the Shah’s reign. The film was smuggled to the 1971 Venice Film Festival, where it received the Critics’ Award. While the realistic portrayal of impoverished life brings to mind Italian Neorealism, the focus on the relationship between the man and his cow — his beloved — evokes Sufi mysticism. The film is adapted from a short story by the acclaimed writer Gholamhossain Saedi.
Dariush Mehrjui (1939- ) is an icon of the glorious Iranian New Wave. With his second feature The Cow, he became the first Iranian filmmaker to receive international fame. In 1959, he left Iran to study film and philosophy at UCLA. Among his teachers was the French auteur Jean Renoir. Mehrjui has enjoyed a long and fruitful career. Some of his most famous works include The Cycle (1978) and Leila (1997).
This film series is organized in conjunction with the Iran Modern exhibition, on view through January 5, 2014. Public programs held in conjunction with Iran Modern are made possible by support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art through Asia Society’s ongoing initiative Creative Voices of Muslim Asia. Additional support for Iran Modern programming is provided by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, WLS Spencer Foundation and the American Institute of Iranian Studies.
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