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Women Without Men (2011)

Navi­d Akhavan , Mina Azarian , Shirin Neshat , Shoja Azari  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Navi­d Akhavan, Mina Azarian, Bijan Daneshmand, Rahi Daneshmand, Salma Daneshmand
  • Directors: Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Farsi
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: IndiePix Films
  • DVD Release Date: February 15, 2011
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003BKZ1OG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,974 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Editorial Reviews


the much-anticipated pic has striking moments comparable to the best of Neshat s potent imagery... --Variety have a feature film that s a must-see in the international festival and art-house circuit --LA Times

This beautifully shot film, set in Tehran during the period leading up to the 1953 coup which toppled the democratically elected government, is a quiet and understated look at the lives of four very different women s struggle for freedom. --London Times

Product Description

WOMEN WITHOUT MEN is Shirin Neshat's independent film adaptation of Shahrnush Parsipur's magic realist novel. The story chronicles the intertwining lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953; a cataclysmic moment in Iranian history when an American led, British backed coup d'état brought down the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and reinstalled the Shah to power.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Per chance to dream June 28, 2010
Having read the novella, I was curious as to how the film would function without the girl Mahdokht turning into the tree and then to seed scattering in the wind. Shahrnush Parsipur, the author of the novella writes in a magical realism style akin to Marquez and the South American writers. The film managed quite well without that episode and still managed to have a dreamlike quality from beginning to end by use of predominantly black and white except for a few injections of color at strategic moments.The former prostitute Zarrinkolab, being painfully thin and speechless throughout the entire film had a surreal quality to it. It turns out in real life she is a Hungarian actress and couldn't speak Farsi. Especially the garden had a ghostly quality to it with its diagonal rows of tall thin trees. They actually filmed three different gardens to get the effects. The film gave a greater emphasis to the Mossadegh theme which was only an historic reference point in the book and it showed that women's involvement in politics in Iran is not a new phenomena. Women have been political activists in Iran for several centuries because they have more at stake. The soldiers in black and the protestors in white like a chess game also had quite a dramatic effect and obvious symbolism.

Some newspaper critics here in the US found the film depressing and only of interest to Iranian expats but I think they missed the point. The discrimination and repression of women is not something unique to Iran, nor is rape and prostitution and the currency of the symbolism used had universal appeal and a familiarity to Western icons.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What if . . . April 30, 2010
Exiled Iranian visual artist and now filmmaker, Shirin Neshat interprets the 1989 novella "Women Without Men" by Shahrnush Parsipur, also an Iranian exile. Both women have attempted movingly to portray the oppression of women in Iran. Set in 1953 during the CIA-backed overthrow of the democratically elected government, led by Mohammed Mossadegh, the film also has a political message. It is dedicated to Iranians whose lives have been lost in struggles for independence there since the turn of the last century.

The women of the title are all abused and betrayed in some way by men. Middle-class and middle-aged Zinat is trapped in a stultifying marriage to an Army officer, who berates her for her creative talents (she is a poet and singer) and threatens to take a second, younger wife. Thirty-year-old Munis is absorbed by current political events but is brow-beaten by a brother who wants her married off as soon as possible. Meanwhile, her friend Faezeh has the misfortune of being found alone in the streets by two men who rape her. Zarin, a shudderingly anorexic young prostitute, barely tolerates her male customers, who treat her brutally, but recoils in horror when she discovers that one of them lacks a face. Zinat leaves her husband and acquires a rural property - a huge old house with extensive gardens where two of the other women join her in retreat from the rest of the world. A kindly gardener attends to them, but otherwise it is their world without men.

The tone of Parsipur's novella is darkly humorous and finally hopeful, but the film is more elegiac. It parts company with the novel as public protests in the streets mount, calling to mind demonstrations we have seen in 1979 and again in 2009.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women with water~ February 17, 2012
Throughout this remarkable film -- along with exquisite natural dioramas -- I subliminally focused on its star turn of Water. Whether as first request of female pilgrim to no-mans-land sanctuary (a drink of water) or sacred and isolated grotto, this pristine fluid proffered solace for healing the feminine from male abuse.
Slaking thirst, purifying, submerging, containing, nurturing, perhaps water's role since the beginning of time -- even in the cultural stories we tell ourselves. (For example, remembering Mary Magdalene's washing the feet of Jesus)
And may explain why women almost universally will chose a bathtub over a shower - when given the option.
The images and cinematography within "Woman without Men" -- by two talented and courageous Iranian women -- spring from and speak to (my) intuition, so ineffable. Best let them talk to yours -- rather than attempt to pin down the numinous with words.
I highly recommend this topical film for both men and women, as we currently ratchet up our demonizing of Iran -- and justifications for disasterous sanctions (and perhaps war) -- against this hoary, precious poetic culture~
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE GREATEST FILMS February 13, 2011
There are so many fine films that have been made, and many masterpieces...this, to my taste, is one of the greatest.

I just saw the film. Cold, without any prior knowledge of it, the filmmaker Shirin Neshat, or Shahrnush Parsipur's magic realist novel. And I've never seen an Iranian film before. It took a few minutes before I could sort out the politics and history--it got very clear as the film progressed, but with the first image I was hooked. The stunning imagery and iconography held through the entire film. It's a unique vision that somehow resonates with the great films of Ingmar Bergman.

Prior reviews have been very helpful to me in contextualizing WOMEN WITHOUT MEN (that's a strange title, btw, which is way more misleading than helpful). I would only add that this film reaches greatness because of the way it handles the great historical flux of power shifts. It would be a very narrow reading of this work to say it shows that to the truly powerful (here, the US and Great Britain) freedom was (is?) is a far less precious commodity than oil. We see the seeds of the Islamic Revolution that disposed of the Shah, and know the fruit of that tree will not be glorious. Ultimately, what I loved most about the film WOMEN WITHOUT MEN is what I love in the great Egyptian novelist and Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz: it tells the heartbreaking story of the recurring impossibility of human aspirations in so particular a fashion that the pleasure in the opportunity to live many lives vicariously balances the ache of recurring disillusionment. Sharin Neshat builds the illusions magnificently.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive debut
Shirin Neshat can clearly do as an exile in America what she would never be allowed to do in her native Iran. And a good thing too. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Albert MacSwigart
5.0 out of 5 stars Its a good movie
I usually like the style of the movies like this, which is not glamoured or contaminated by majority of shallow mainstream hollywood lines....
Its real, simple and about life. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ali Ghabraei
1.0 out of 5 stars not healthy to watch
The movie start with a suicide of the movie star........!!!
very depressing, no massage , not educated at all
Not healthy to watch.
Published 8 months ago by mark towhidlow
5.0 out of 5 stars In 1953 US President Eisenhower Sent His Secretary of State John...
to Iran to provoke riots against the elected President Mossadegh to back British Petroleum's agreement to sell Iranian oil on the world market and installed the hated Shah to... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Zarathustra
4.0 out of 5 stars Must See.
Great movie. Actors and actresses were true to their parts and the story revealed that life is still the constant working out of the negative. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Alvette E Jeffers
5.0 out of 5 stars A Woman with a dilemma
This movie really demonstrated what German women were up against with the onslaught and occupation of the Russian Army.. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Marcia Lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect desciption of Perian society
living both on the top and in the bottom of a scheme which is haedly understandable in western cultures - amazing was to sea the contrast by a Vaudeville return to the time of the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Alfred Hueter
4.0 out of 5 stars Women Without Men
Very historic and informative. I like the story and directorship, very strong players and filming locations. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Abdorreza Larki
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow moving but interesting
Slow moving but interesting - gives some perspective on how women are sometimes treated in the Middle East and how the UK and US are responsible for the mes in Iran
Published 15 months ago by William J Vicino
2.0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't Recommend It
It was boring and long, I had to watch it for class. I didn't care that much. But on the bright side: you do get to learn history and culture of Iran. Read more
Published 15 months ago by ShiShi
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