Baran (2001)

Country: Iran

Very few films about love touch you in a way you cannot explain. What is love exactly? How does one depict it in films? Is it about conversations and coffees, or suffering and anxiety? Is it physical, or platonic?

While most love stories follow the same pattern of two people falling in love and then fighting the odds to be together, or basically ending up with heartbreak or death, a few love stories are depicted in a way you cannot possibly predict, and Majid Majidi’s Baran is one such film.

Iranian New Wave cinema has a lot of feathers in its cap for its projection of everyday life – the ‘mundane’. Only that ultimately we discover that everyday life is not as mundane as we would like to think. There are small things, that usually go unnoticed, that are beautiful.

Majidi is one such director who stuns. Though his focus on the everyday ‘mundane’ is as realistic as life itself, his stories never run dry and they never become predictable. Just as unpredictable as life, his stories keep you guessing (not like a suspense film) because they are like unraveling the uncertainty of real life.

Baran is a film that is not only visually spectacular, but is emotionally profound. It is a story about love; love that transcends cultures, languages, and ultimately, egos. It is like a visual poem that unfolds the story of two young protagonists and their love against the backdrop of a building under construction.

Set in modern day Iran, the story revolves around a Kurdish Iranian construction worker and an Afghan girl. Though resentful of the girl initially, the boy eventually finds himself in love with her after he discovers a certain secret about her. It is this love that drives him to protect her from a distance so that she is unaware of his involvement in helping her.

Their love is a silent one – where any conversation between the two is barely present. Instead, what is apparent is the extent to which a person is willing to change for a change in heart.

There are no green fields and stolen glances in this film. There are only fuming tar drums and concrete, and a lot of mud and rain. But one has to see Baran just to appreciate how the bleakest imagery can be made beautiful.

To watch Baran, you need to put aside everything you know about conventional love stories, because ultimately we know how to expect complications and conflicts in films we watch, and Baran may be a let-down if it is viewed with similar expectations.

Instead, watch it as one watches real life from a distance, and you will not be disappointed.

The smoke from the tar drums, pigeons flapping their wings, and Ahmad Pejman’s emotive soundtrack are sure not to elude you.

FINAL VERDICT: Watch it if you do not always expect a physical angle in a love story. Also watch it if you want to see a completely realistic way of life.

Avoid it if you are looking for action, climaxes and denouements.

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