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Top Customer Reviews
I sat through this film, not understanding, and feeling that I almost didn't like it. It didn't try to convince me.
It IS a powerful cinematic portrayal of hardship among kurds, a portrayal of minorities without representation in any national majority.
I understood that later, slowly, as it unfolded in my head. I can't truly describe it. You must find out for yourself the importance of a film like this.
This film, which received the 2000 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize, takes place in the Kurdistan region of Iran and was filmed in Kurdish. None of the performers are professional actors, except for Behnaz Jafari, who is a noted Iranian stage and film actress and plays the only female role in the film. Local village people were used for the other roles, except for the role of one of the teachers, which was played by a Kurdish filmmaker. The film was shot on location in the rugged mountainous terrain in the Kurdistan region of Iran, near the Iranian/Iraqi border.
The film tells the story of the poor people of Kurdistan, which is a region always struggling with problems caused by war. The film first centers on a band of itinerant Iranian school teachers who struggle to bring a modicum of education to the children of this war torn region. They travel with large blackboards on their backs and traipse up and down the steep mountain side, as poor as those whom they seek to teach. Their blackboards serve many functions, as the viewer will soon discover. Early on in the film, two teachers splinter off from the main group. The film proceeds to follow these two teachers on their respective journeys, where they will discover that education cannot find its niche in a land where the young need to work to survive, and adults simply want to return to their homeland to die.Read more ›
Like Beckett, Ms. Makhmalbaf focuses upon the plight of the poverty-stricken, whose lives spin in circles of nothingness. While "Godot" stayed underneath a tree, "Blackboards" moves along at a resigned pace. I find it a masterful piece of work, no matter what the director's age. Her use of Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi and his actor friend Said Mohammed as two of the teachers was a wise choice.
Fellow Americans who expect fast action and glib speech will not like this film. It is at once realistic and symbolistic. A coworker couldn't get through the first ten minutes, but then again he has different tastes than I.
Two of these teachers are primarily focused on. They part at a junction and one goes up the craggy mountain and runs into desperate young boys who risk their lives at the border smuggling stolen goods and the other runs into a bunch of misplaced Kurdish nomads trying to find their way home and somehow, absurdly marries a wife. They both try to to teach unwilling pupils; it's almost perversely comical to watch.
The movie is realistically shot. You feel like you are in the zone and a major highlight is when one of the teachers pretends to read a letter in a language foreign to him to a father desperate for news.
However, the conclusion is empty. I kind of felt sorry for the director and myself. It would be difficult to hold together and conclude a story with such important and varied themes. It's worth watching to understand what it is like to be an Iranian Kurd and why it is impossible to hold the human spirit down.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Released in 2000, BLACKBOARDS was the second film by Samira Makhmalbaf, daughter of acclaimed Iranian auteur Mohsen Makhmalbaf and a precocious director in her own right. Read morePublished on January 15, 2012 by Christopher Culver
Let's talk about Iran first. I've never heard any urban myth to the effect that they have 2000 words for sand, but if I did hear such a myth, the visuals in a film such as this... Read morePublished on March 31, 2008
A few years ago Iranian films were the choice for Guardian columnists telling us that they were the greatest thing you were ever likely to see. Sadly, its just not the case. Read morePublished on May 13, 2007 by Gogol
I'm not overly familiar with Iranian movies--but on a scale of 1 to 5--I would put "Children of Heaven" as an easy 5--"The Cow" and "Leila" as 4's--and "Blackboards"-at best a... Read morePublished on October 19, 2005 by vanhubris