Friday, July 27, 2007

Moments of Innocence

I’ve just finished watching Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “Moments of Innocence” (aka “Nun Va Goldoon” or “Bread and Flower”). The storyline is disarmingly simple yet engagingly intricate. Makhmalbaf, in his youth, about 20 years back, was a member of some radical revolutionary party. During the Shah’s regime, he stabbed one policeman in an attempt to snatch his gun away. He employed his cousin, with whom he was in love, to distract the policeman by asking the time. The policeman fell in love with that girl and wanted to give her a potted flower. Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, Makhmalbaf disarmed him. The policeman never knew that the girl was actually a decoy.
After 20 years, that same policeman, now retired, approaches Makhmalbaf, the director, and asks for a role. They together then decide to re-enact that same incident in its entirety. They choose the actors who will play their “younger versions”. But, the very process of reconstructing this simple event in great details starts to change the event itself. The former policeman now comes to know about the girl’s real identity and, feeling cheated, wants to take revenge. “Real” characters involved in that incident, now tries to reconstruct their pasts in their own way.
The film is basically about the filming of this very re-enactment. We see the policeman, concerned about his role in the film, coaching his “younger self”. Makhmalbaf also, in turn, talks to his “younger version” and finds out, quite amusingly, that this boy is also in love with his cousin, just like Makhmalbaf 20 years ago. The re-enactment part has been shown from the perspectives of both Makhmalbaf and the policeman (the reader can remember “Rashomon” or “Midaque Alley” in this context).
The film attempts to show the hyperbolic relationship between ‘past’ and ‘present’ and the tension that exists between them. It depicts how memory is enriched and amplified with the passage of time, how the memory is reconstructed and how the memory is changed by the very act of reconstruction. Also, it hints at the duality of Art/Life or Cinema/Reality.
The original title of the film (“Bread and Flower”) refers to the two objects that played an all-important role in the “actual” event. Makhmalbaf hid his knife under a flatbread and the policeman was ready to offer the potted flower to the unknown girl. In other words, these two objects actually determined their destiny at that time. They assume importance in the recreated version also. The film actually ends with a beautiful freeze shot of the two protagonists offering these two objects to the young girl and thereby trying to come in terms with their disturbing pasts in their own fragmented manner.


ss said...

Perspective, Contradictions, Conflicts of time and memory...

A very old question of mine : what happens when worlds intersect?

I want to see this movie. Anybody in kol with dvd of it???

Heathcliff Ranting... said...

the dvd is in my kol. B-)