Sunday, June 13, 2010

Women Without Men (زنان بدون مردان) (2009)

Director(s): Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari. Cast: Shabnam Toloui, Orsolya Tóth, Essa Zahir, Pegah Ferydoni, Arita Shahrzad. 95 min. Germany, Austria, France. Rated

A bold and powerful story, unfolding during CIA's 1953 coup in Iran (which destroyed any chance of democracy in the region till this day), the film's narrative of four women representing Iran's social classes of the time, initially presents as a dark feminist criticism of male oppression. But look again. Ironically, the society is culturally demolished, not by the "imperialist" aggressor, but by the victims of aggression. The most poignant metaphor is a mute prostitute (as the personification of freedom), raped several times a day by her own people, and finally dying as intellectuals dine with army generals next door.

Mo says:


  1. I think the movie shows sad destiny of women in our country perfectly. We have to admit that for most of our women there is no hope here at all. No success in social activities like politic,no any hope in intellectual presentation, no satisfaction in truly romantic relation, no chance for achievement of their dreams, their talents and capabilities and actually they just search over and over for finding their lost identity in their society …. for defining who they really are, what they really want ?
    I loved metamorphic style of telling story which is characteristic of Parsipoor’ writing and has been considered carefully by filmmaker.
    One of best scenes of movie was when the prostitute washing herself in the public bath(i liked your idea about this character) and the other when the young soldier was dying in girl’s arm which I guess was inspired by some similar story of recent green movement in Iran…protests protect and sympathizes with countrymen of opposite site in the violence.

  2. Also, the conflicts in the intellectual woman's mind in the last scenes was noticeable. She was never satisfied with what she did.
    Dear Mohsen and Maryam, both of your comments were great. Thanks for recommendation.

  3. I think the public bath scene was one of the exceptionally well-made scenes of the movie. The bitterness of the scene is terrifying. The prostitute/freedom has become so filthy by the way this country's people have treated her, she scrubs herself so hard to get rid of the evil, her body becomes soaked in blood. I cannot imagine a better metaphor.

    On the other hand, I was impressed to see an Persian actress be so brave to go fully nude (and look so ugly at that), for the first time in an Iranian movie. But I was wrong. The actress (Orsolya Tóth) is Hungarian. I guess it'll take some time to see such courage from Iranian actresses.

    Dear Maryam, you mentioned the dying soldier was a reference to today's Green Movement. Actually, I think the entire movie is referring to the Green Movement - and why the Movement hasn't been able to force Ahmadinejad out of office yet. The intellectuals and affluent people, in fear of losing their own small mundane every day freedoms, are willing to sacrifice the entire country, and live side by side with the coup military. The final party scene clearly shows the educated agreeing to become "one of them", so they wouldn't lose their own selfish way of life; disregarding the fact they too will lose their own small freedoms, as soon as the dictators get strong enough to do so. The coups dictators are initially afraid of the educated, but as soon as they eradicate their feeling of independence, the rest will be easy. This is exactly what is already happening and will continue to worsen in Iran.

    Unless the educated and affluent wake up.