Academy Award(r)-nominee Majid Majidi (Children of Heaven, Best Foreign Language Film, 1998) exploresthe world of a gifted blind boy at the mercy of his father's crippling sense of shame in THE COLOR OF PARADISE. Mohammad is an energetic 8-year-old boy who is much like the other children in his small, Iranian village except in one regard, he is blind. But Mohammad doesn't let his lack of sight hinder him, indeed, his heightened remaining senses make him even more receptive to the world around him. Young Mohammad's optimism, however, is not shared by his widowed father, a bitter man who sees the boy's condition as nothing but a liability, especially as it pertains to his desire to marry the village beauty.
Majid Majidi, whose delightful Children of Heaven
became the first Iranian film ever nominated for an Oscar, returns to the subject of children for this lush and lovely--if contrived--melodrama. A spirited blind boy with a passion for learning and life arrives home for a three-month break. He's loved by his giggly little sisters and adored by his gentle granny, but his widowed, self-pitying father sees him as a burden and is determined to foist him off on someone else before he remarries--specifically, a kindly blind carpenter who welcomes the boy with all his heart. Majidi is at his best exploring the texture of the boy's world--little hands feeling their way through a garden, the sounds of metal pencils punching out Braille pages, the shuffle of fingers on paper--and his imagery is delicate and lush. The story descends into scripted tragedy and a contrived, action-packed climax (unusual for a cinema known for its restraint), and the emotional tenor turns sentimental and cloying, but Majidi turns it all around with an astounding, heartbreakingly powerful final image. If there is one thing many Iranian films have in common, it's an unerring sense of how to end a film. This is one of the most affecting ever: beautiful, moving, simple, a glowing moment that crystallizes the entire movie. --Sean Axmaker