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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second chances . . .
This is a lovely, meditative film on the subject of - well, it's not easy to say. On the surface, a middle-aged university professor, blind since boyhood, unexpectedly recovers his sight after a cornea transplant in Paris. Returning to Tehran, he discovers that the little "paradise" he has inhabited looks more like a dead end, and he yearns for the life of a free man that...
Published on May 5, 2010 by Ronald Scheer

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tarkovsky meets Neo-realism, with okay results
Made several years after The Color of Paradise, Majid Majidi once again places a blind person in the lead role. This time, the main character is a 45-year old university professor named Yusef. Yusef leads a comfortable life with a good job and a loving family, which includes a devoted wife, playful daughter, and caring mother. A cornea transplant allows him to regain...
Published on June 22, 2008 by The Critic


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tarkovsky meets Neo-realism, with okay results, June 22, 2008
This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
Made several years after The Color of Paradise, Majid Majidi once again places a blind person in the lead role. This time, the main character is a 45-year old university professor named Yusef. Yusef leads a comfortable life with a good job and a loving family, which includes a devoted wife, playful daughter, and caring mother. A cornea transplant allows him to regain the sight that he lost in an accident as a young boy. Rather than exulting in his new sense, Yusef instead becomes confused and depressed. He shuns work, tires of his plain-looking wife, and fancies a young student. As with Majidi's other movies, the ending lacks a neat resolution.

The overall style of this film is in line with Children of Heaven and The Color of Paradise. The settings are realistic, the cinematography is extraordinary, and Iran is a lush, mountainous land of mostly gentle people. However, this film is more subtle and slow paced. It lacks the emotion and vivid characterizations of The Color of Paradise and the energy of Children of Heaven. The plot is also more abstract. Despite, its flaws, most fans of Majidi will be satisfied.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second chances . . ., May 5, 2010
This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
This is a lovely, meditative film on the subject of - well, it's not easy to say. On the surface, a middle-aged university professor, blind since boyhood, unexpectedly recovers his sight after a cornea transplant in Paris. Returning to Tehran, he discovers that the little "paradise" he has inhabited looks more like a dead end, and he yearns for the life of a free man that was taken from him by his blindness. He complains to his wife that he no longer wishes to be mothered. He's ready to grow up, but sadly he is now a 45-year-old, and there is no living his years of blindness over as a sighted and independent man.

A viewer can wonder whether the reference is to the Islamic Republic itself, which has deprived many Iranians of living independently without the rigid control of the state. While the film tantalizingly alludes to what might have been a romance between teacher and student, there are only longing looks from afar and the appearance of a hand in the frame to suggest her presence, but nothing more of her than that. When his wedding ring has fallen to the floor of the classroom, she suggestively pushes it toward his searching fingers where he can find it. Meanwhile, she and the rest of the women in the film, including the man's wife, never remove their head scarves. There is no escaping the puritanical separation of genders, even in the man's home.

Is this what the film is about? Only partly, if at all. Blindness seems meant as a metaphor for all frustrated desires: the inability to indulge the eye (this is a movie after all), the heart, the other gifts which men and women have to engage fully with the world and each other. To see, is too see the limitations that this kind of blindness has created and to feel deprived and angry rather than grateful. The prayer that the man inscribes in Braille is to be given a second chance. The granting of that prayer it turns out is not enough.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What does it really mean to be blind?, July 22, 2008
By 
Michael I. Chaplan (Kohoku-ku, Yokohama Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
A blind Iranian college professor gets his sight restored. How does this affect him, and how does it especially affect those who have cared for him up to this point in his life? There are some surprises here that will require a re-viewing to really understand. This is the most subtle of the films I have seen by Majidi... and I have seen as many as I could find!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A parable, April 23, 2009
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This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
Stories about the blind who late in life regain their sight have an inherent fascination: what seems so fundamental to the lives of most of us is made problematic and tricky, as the newly-sighted learn to negotiate the world-at-a-distance that vision opens up. And that the drift of such stories is not always simply that a disability is overcome has itself something familiar about it: sight opens up the world's mischiefs as much as its beauties.

In this film Majidi tells the story with a smooth competence--with, I think, one exception. As the formerly blind Yusuf, instead of losing himself in the delights of the visual world, falls into paroxysms of disgust and contempt, these take on an overly cinematic quality--grand gestures that fill the screen (heaving one's library into the courtyard pond and burning it; jumping out of a moving car in thick traffic and causing havoc in lane after lane of it) but that don't do much to reveal the precise nature of the inner life motivating them.

Part of Yusuf's problem is obvious: newly introduced to the delights of visual beauty, he sees that a young student has more of it than his wife, and he becomes an obsessed stalker. He becomes complicit in evil in a way impossible when he was blind: he watches in fascination as a pickpocket goes about his business on a train, without saying or doing anything about it.

I think the main issue, though, is that Yusuf comes to represent the effects of a globalized world-system on family and community structures. He is introduced not just to new forms of guilt, but to the self-contempt that comes from the sense that the life he had lived and the successes he'd gained were provincial and trivial. Sight allows awareness at a distance, and Yusuf finds himself permanently alienated from the coziness of the tight-knit support web he had inhabited while blind. (The fact that he was a professor isn't supposed to convey knowing awareness, but the opposite, narrow academic remoteness.)

No solution is presented, but the film demonstrates the kind of disorientation and deracination that wider awareness (globalization, sudden vision) can cause.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!, December 26, 2013
By 
ric martinez (el paso, texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
It's a gem of a movie. Very well made with a strong message. Buy this movie; you will love it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Meditation on the Curse of Sight, April 1, 2013
By 
Amazon Customer "Dave Lake" (Thousand Oaks, CA or Paris, France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
Yusef regains his sight (lost at age 8 after an accident with fireworks) at age 45 and discovers the world in which he was comfortable and cared for is no longer enough for him. The other reviews allude to the political metaphors with which one is faced whenever dealing with Iran. Majidi's beautiful vistas from The Color of Paradise and the Children of Heaven are not presented here, but are replaced by images that convey the fears and longings of a middle aged man suddenly awakened to a wide world. Yusef becomes aware of a pretty young student as well as the plainness of his motherly wife had been his caretaker all those years. There is some obvious filmic sympolism here, particularly when the wife ensures Yusef can find his wedding ring after he drops it on the floor while still bind. The problem is that she cannot do the same when he no longer needs her to function. Political loyalty works the same way, but any references to this are very subtle.

Throughout the film, Yusef moves with the walk of a blind man, placing his feet down instead of sweeping ahead as he plods forward. Like contemporary Iran, he was formed as a blind man and cannot cope with a world with all the distractions of sight. As the tragedy of his situation dawns on the viewer, there is a sudden twist that either amplifies the tragedy or resolves it, left for the viewer to decide. This is a very thoughtful film and probably a great political parable (see Saramago's novel Blindness for more of that), but I missed the beauty of Majidi's earlier masterpieces.
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4.0 out of 5 stars when a blessing becomes a curse, March 24, 2010
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This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
In the lyrical and touching Iranian drama "The Willow Tree," a middle-aged college professor, blind since the age of eight, regains his sight after undergoing a cornea transplant.

Through the years, Yusef has learned to function in a world of darkness. He even long ago stopped blaming God for his condition (he went blind while playing with firecrackers as a boy). Having made his peace with his situation, Yusef is now suddenly confronted with the unforeseen mixed blessing of regaining his sight. On the one hand, he yearns to be able to once again behold the vast and myriad beauties of the visual world; on the other, he risks losing the sense of security and comfort that comes from living in a world that is real and familiar to him.

Director Majid Majidi captures some of the visual sensory overload Yusef experiences when he is once again reunited with the sighted world, which includes seeing his wife and young daughter for the first time. And how will the change in his condition affect the couple's relationship - the roles each of them plays within that relationship, and the ways in which they interact with one another? For now that he is no longer dependent on others to get around and is free to do things on his own, Yusef begins to press against the tightly-bound parameters of his heavily circumscribed life, falling for a beautiful young student in one of his classes and becoming less willing to play the part of the uncomplaining, longsuffering victim to please his wife and mother who have found their own purpose and meaning in taking care of him all these years. Then Fate plays a cruel trick on him, making him realize that he can never be fully happy in either state of sightedness (Majidi doesn`t cater to his audience`s desire for an uplifting, happy ending).

To emphasize the way in which Yousef experiences the world, the movie features a hyper-sensitive soundtrack filled with the amplified sounds of birds chirping, water gurgling, leaves rustling, raindrops falling, etc. The only real disappointment is the musical score, which is often lugubrious, soupy and overly-emphatic.

Much of "The Willow Trees"'s success can be attributed to Parviz Parastui's subtle and wide-ranging performance in the lead role. As Yusef, Parastui runs the gamut from submissive introvert to railing despondent without hitting a single false note at either end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Visual Journey Contrasted With Inner Torment, January 27, 2010
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This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
The terrific Majidi gives us a much more somber, spare effort in The Willow Tree, compared to the childlike exuberance of "Heaven", and the soulful "Paradise". This film does not offer happy endings, but it does offer a visual journey contrasted with the inner torment of an everyman.
If you only liked Children of Heaven, this may not be for you. But if you enjoyed the depth of Color of Paradise, and even the flawed Baran, this is a must-see, in more ways than one.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, October 29, 2011
By 
Angela S. (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Willow Tree, The (DVD)
The concept of this film is intriguing, however the execution of the story didn't resonate well with me. I'll admit that there are some scenes that are chilling, such as, when he visits the School for the Blind and is terrified of how blind children look and act. I am quite disappointed that it's not as visually stunning as Majid Majidi's A Color in Paradise and Children of Heaven.
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Willow Tree, The
Willow Tree, The by Majid Majidi (DVD - 2008)
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