A crack in a water jar marks the "inciting incident" in THE JAR, a perceptive, engaging comedy from Iran.
THE JAR is set in a rural desert village in 1967, years before the Islamic Revolution. In the village's one-room schoolhouse, the children share their water from a large terracotta jar, which one day develops a crack along its side. The young school teacher (Behzad Khodaveisi) visits a student's
father who may be able to repair the crack, but the man claims he is too busy. The embarrassed son's refusal to attend class forces the father to agree to fix the jar.
The father instructs all the children to bring ashes and eggs from their homes. A mix of egg whites and ashes will be used to cement the crack. The next day when the teacher finds that the children have brought enough ashes but not enough eggs, he realizes that some of the parents think he is
trying to keep the yolks for his own use. Angered by the implied criticism, the teacher solves the problem by feeding the students the yolks while the jar is being repaired.
Waiting for the jar to be fixed, the children drink water from a nearby stream. One of the boys falls into the stream and later becomes ill. His mother, Mrs. Khavar (Fatemeh Azrah), complains to the teacher about the episode, then sets out to raise money from the other parents to buy a new jar for
the school. Mrs. Khavar's campaign soon gets mired in malicious gossip, when the other parents insinuate that, with the cooperation of the teacher, Mrs. Khavar has given the collected money to her husband for personal use. The teacher nearly leaves over the imbroglio, but a village elder urges him
to stand up to the rumors and stay. The children are delighted when the teacher decides not to move away.
Like THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES and the more popular WHITE BALLOON, THE JAR is a winsome little movie out of Iran that signals a new voice in Middle Eastern cinema (notably, THE JAR takes place before the Islamic Revolution). Also like other recent Iranian imports, THE JAR appears slighter on the
surface than it is underneath. The cracked jar provides a basic metaphor that drives the simple narrative, the crack symbolically exposing the social, economic and moral fissures in the society. Expertly developed by writer-director Ebrahim Foruzesh (this is the former producer's second
directorial effort), THE JAR says volumes about the far-reaching consequences of challenging a social order.
However, the film compares slightly less favorably to both Abbas Kiarostami's THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES, which was more beautifully shot, and Jafar Panahi's WHITE BALLOON, which better articulated a child's point of view. But what the unadorned production of THE JAR lacks in artistic finesse it
makes up for in humanitarian charm, most notably from the ensemble of unknown actors who give refreshingly natural and spontaneous performances. Without sugarcoating its subject, the picture leaves a sweet aftertaste and a fond memory.(Violence.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: NR
- Review: A crack in a water jar marks the "inciting incident" in THE JAR, a perceptive, engaging comedy from Iran. THE JAR is set in a rural desert village in 1967, years before the Islamic Revolution. In the village's one-room schoolhouse, the children share thei… (more)