Young Lateef works on a construction site in Tehran with some Turks and a few illegal Afghan workers. When Lateef is given heavier tasks to compensate for new Afghan worker Rahmat, he resents his displacement and treats Rahmat cruelly. After one of his pranks, however, Lateef discovers Rahmat’s secret–he is a girl named Baran. Latif’s heart softens towards Baran and he shows his new affection for her by doing what he can to ease the hardships she suffers at work. When government inspectors force all Afghans to be fired from the site, Lateef discovers he cannot bear to be without her. Jeopardizing social standing and endangering his own well being, Lateef stops at nothing to save his love.Read More »
Mehrollah is a 14-year-old boy who is forced to find a job to support his family after his father dies. He travels to the southern parts of Iran, looking for work. Upon his return to his hometown, he notices certain changes in his family.Read More »
The Children of Heaven (1997)
FILM REVIEW; For a Pair of Sneakers, Longing, Lies and a Plan
By JANET MASLIN
The young hero of Majid Majidi’s ”Children of Heaven” is played by Mir Farrokh Hashemian, a desolate-looking boy with huge brown eyes and a way of sending tears suddenly rolling down his cheeks. Those tears well up with some regularity during this film about 9-year-old Ali, his younger sister Zahra (Bahareh Seddiqui) and their scheme for sharing a pair of his tattered sneakers. The children want to hide the fact that Zahra’s shoes have been lost because this will be a hardship for their parents. The family’s carefully detailed poverty, which reflects the filmmaker’s own childhood experience, colors everything that happens in this story.
Events in the film are seen through the children’s ingenuous eyes, as is so often and artfully the case in Iranian films. (A child’s-eye view is, among other things, helpful in circumventing Government censors.) But in the more honest, less manipulative films that this one resembles — especially the graceful work of Jafar Panahi (”The White Balloon,” ”The Mirror”) — what the young characters observe is liable to be more surprising than it is here. In ”Children of Heaven,” life is sweet despite countless hardships, and no reality beyond the economic intrudes upon a fairy tale atmosphere. Only through heavy-handed emphasis does the quest for new sneakers take on any greater meaning.Read More »