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Women Without Men


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Women Without Men + Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran
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Editorial Reviews

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.

Review

the much-anticipated pic has striking moments comparable to the best of Neshat s potent imagery... --Variety

...you 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

Special Features

None.

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: #64,427 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

The film is powerful without being strident and often of very striking visual beauty.
Albert MacSwigart
Shahrnush said that the title of the book "Women Without Men" was taken from Hemingway's book "Men Without Women."
Brian H. Appleton
Best let them talk to yours -- rather than attempt to pin down the numinous with words.
Linda Wenrick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Brian H. Appleton on June 28, 2010
Format: DVD
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 By Ronald Scheer on April 30, 2010
Format: DVD
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Linda Wenrick on February 17, 2012
Format: DVD
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Brod, MD on February 13, 2011
Format: DVD
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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