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The Day I Became a Woman
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"One is not born, but rather becomes a woman." Simone De Beauvoir's exquisite pronouncement on the social construction of gender in her Second Sex (1949) spoke to generations of women, and of a universal truth beyond countries and cultures. As an example of astonishing visual poignancy, "The Day I became a Woman" is the globally celebrated debut of Marziyeh Meshkini, a young Iranian filmmaker bringing her rich and diversified national cinema to bear on an enduring global concern, in a new crescendo of memorable subtlety and grace. "The Day" is repeated in three consecutive episodes-the memorial registers of childhood, adolescence, and old age-when three stages of "becoming" a woman is culturally manufactured and socially registered. Between Simone De Beauvoir and Marziyeh Meshkini, generations of women (and men), from all cultures around the world, will have much to learn and even more to achieve.
"Felliniesque!" --Chicago Sun-Times--Roger Ebert
- Audio Commentary by Richard Pena (The Film Society of Lincoln Center)
- Original Critical Essay by internationally acclaimed artist/author Shirin Neshat
- Photo Gallery
- Dual layered DVD for maximum video quality
- DVD Trailer
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Top customer reviews
I had the region 2 dvd of this title and stupidly sold it for the region 1 Olive film transfer.
This, the olive film transfer is horrible.
Search for the verion titled: Roozi ke zan shodam which is region 2
Director Marziyeh Meshkini has done a superb job of neutralizing myths and stereotypes, introducing her audience to three different women of three different generations, each experiencing the same "problem": each of their lives changed forever on the days they became women. Meshkini's story is told in three parts: in the first, we meet a young girl on her ninth birthday who is told by her mother and grandmother that she can, after a certain point in that day, no longer play with her male friend because she has become a woman, subject to the same restrictions as her mother, grandmother, and all other females she will encounter in her lifetime. In the second vignette, we are introduced to a young woman riding her bicycle with all her strength, away from her husband. The force she expends riding from something she knows she can never fully escape is amazing, and to watch it breathtaking. While attempting to run from her designated "place" pre-determined for her by society, she experiences an act of pure will that cannot be categorized as mere defiance of a norm or dominant mode of thought. This norm or mode is somehow not necessary for her will to exist.
In the third and final section we meet an old woman who, for the first time in her life, is able to purchase the things she has always wanted but has never been able to buy. Meshkini uses particularly subtle and fascinating technique in this vignette, and her audience is able to see that the distinction between what we have come to know as "apparent" or "obvious" and "fantasy" is blurred.
I am especially pleased that this film is being released on DVD with lots of special features. I went and found the website for the film ([...]) and noticed that it comes with an essay by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, and with an audiocomentary by Richard Pena. This DVD is definitely worth a look if you are looking to watch a unique and highly intelligent examination of the condition of womanhood, not just in Iran but throughout the world.
Take this film for example, 3 short stories one good, the other average the third not just poor but asking more questions from the director than it seems the director cares to answer.
In the first a young girl reaches 'adulthood' (in the eyes of the rural area of Iran that she comes from) and is required to wear the full veil as her adult female relatives are required to to (it would seem) more by tradition than anything else. The young girl however, manages to wrangle a few more hours of childhood and goes to play with her friend, a young boy who (for some reason thats not quite clear from the film) is locked away in school (looks more like a prison) They share sweets together and generally act like children until the time arrives and she is taken off to don the veil.
The second story is of a cycle race where (it seems) only women participate (again it's never made clear why this race is taking place) One young woman it seems is married and her husband and family are not too keen on the idea of her participating in a cycle race. They endlessly turn un on the journey (on horseback) to demand she returns to her husband. During the race the entire family seem to have a go at bringing her back including the village Imam (an elderly chap who seems to like riding a horse bare chested!) They all fail to convince her and finally the scene ends with her bundled off the race in the distance by it would seem her family.
Now I understand that the race may be symbolic but come on, is that not a little patronising to both Iran and Iranian women? Cycling along to freedom only to be bundled off the road by bare chested, horse riding Mullahs!
The third story is even more bizzare. It begins with an elderly woman arriving at a costal town by plane to be met by numerous street children asking her if they want her to carry her luggage (interesting in that most of the street children in Iran seem to be black, a point that the director fails to either challenge or even recognise) She has never had various material posessions and now, having come into money decides to buy them and set them up on a beach.
So what does she do? She dispatches these little black children off to bring fridges, sofas and God knows what else for her to sit about and make up for lost time. Again I am sure many of us in the west will be too buisy wringing our hands about the plight of this poor woman who has been denied so much in life will totally ignore these virtual child slaves who are running around to her beck and call. No callenge is made to this, no comment, no mention of the fact that most of them are black (apart from a few dubious comments from the old lady herself) No, all that is ignored.
If you wish to watch an interesting observation of women in Iran then watch the Circle, a film that both asks questions and challenges. If you want a film for a spot of hand wringing about those terrible people over there then this is the film for you.
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