Moment Of Innocence

  • 1996
  • 1 HR 18 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

Mohsen Makhmalbaf's follow-up to the internationally acclaimed GABBEH finds the Iranian director delving deeper into a self-reflexive mode of filmmaking that explores the knotty relationships between art and truth and truth and reality through the recreation of a violent episode from his own past. In 1974, Makhmalbaf, then a 17-year-old Islamic militant,...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Mohsen Makhmalbaf's follow-up to the internationally acclaimed GABBEH finds the Iranian director delving deeper into a self-reflexive mode of filmmaking that explores the knotty relationships between art and truth and truth and reality through the recreation of a

violent episode from his own past. In 1974, Makhmalbaf, then a 17-year-old Islamic militant, was arrested and imprisoned for stabbing Mirhadi Tayebi, a young policeman, during a botched attempt to steal his gun. Years later, when the now-famous director was busy auditioning actors for his 1994

film SALAM CINEMA, Makhmalbaf had the extraordinary experience of coming face-to-face with his victim, now an aspiring actor. Makhmalbaf decided to use this strange twist of fate as the basis for a film in which he attempts to make a film about the stabbing; Tayebi will also play himself. In the

film, each man separately directs and films a young teenager who is to portray his younger self: The 17-year-old Makhmalbaf is to be played by a young idealist (Ali Bakhshi), and, in one of the metafilm's many intriguing mirrorings, the boy's own cousin (Marjam Mohamadamini) is cast as Makmalbaf's

cousin and accomplice. The 20-year-old policeman is to be played by a young, eager innocent (Ammar Tafti) who knows nothing about life before the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The two halves of the film come together at that fateful moment when the young Makhmalbaf and policeman meet. The resulting

film is a fascinating fictional documentary that blends facts and symbols and truth and lies in order to reveal how a moment that would change two lives forever came to mean completely different things to each man. In the case of the policeman, the outcome means a heartbreaking end to 20 years of

romantic illusion; for Makhmalbaf, the film comes to represent a re-examination of his own idealism, and the possibility of further social change as a whole new generation of Iranian youth comes of age. (In Farsi, with English subtitles.)

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