April 10, 2000
Acknowledging Pop icons
I just read quite an angry
letter about "Farewell
to Fardin". I guess the author of the article on Fardin was right
in pointing out that, "to most Iranian intellectuals [Fardin] remained
an over-rated actor who represented a commercial cinema that was an embarrassment
to our national identity." Though I am not sure if the person complaining
about the article is in fact an intellectual!
The article did not call Fardin a good or even a mediocre actor. Nor
did it praise his directorial talents. But every culture has its heroes
and icons. A healthy culture is one that acknowledges such individuals
and tries to live with them (see Roland Barthes' Mythologies).
Jean Luc Goddard's first feature film "Breathless" starred
Jean-Paul Belmondo, the ex-boxer. In fact Belmondo's entire career is indebted
to Goddard.Yet our local intellectuals (with a few exceptions) failed to
use popular actors to convey more complex messages. I believe this has
to do with the intense dichotomy between high and low art in our culture.
We want our music to be all "good" and our poetry is always
measured with what the"masters" accomplished and thus our pop
culture is always "mobtazal". Yet culture is a living organism,
making its own rules as it goes through history. Our cinema cannot be an
exception. The fact that our movies have become better over the years is
a testimony to the work of all who were involved in its development.
I am not concerned with the quality of Fardin's work. But you may find
it interesting that Fardin acted in fifty-seven films, directed eleven
of them, wrote the script for five pictures and produced seven. These are
the films he directed:
Gor-haaye gorosneh (1341 / 1962)
Haatam-e Taaee (1345 / 1966)
Eshgh va enteghaam (1344 / 1965)
Khoshgel khoshgelaa (1344 / 1965)
Gedaayaan-e Tehran (1345 / 1966)
Soltaan-e ghalb-haa (1347 / 1968)
Ghasreh zarrin (1348/ 1969)
Jahanam beh ezaafeh-ye man (1351 / 1972)
Gheseh-ye shab (1352 / 1973)
Gharaar-e Bozorg (1355 / / 1976)
Bar Faraaz-e aasmaanhaa (1358 / 1979)
Fardin worked with three distinguished Iranian filmmakers :with the
late Jalal Moghadam in "Raaz-e derakht-e senjed", with the late
Ali Hatami in "Baabaa Shamal" and with Masoud Kimiaie in "Ghazal".
For complete information on Fardin's work please see "Farhang-e
sinemaa-ye Iran" Volumes1 and 2, by Jamal Omid, Negah Publicatins,
For over twenty years we tried to isolate our pop icons; turning Fardin
into a carpet shop owner. And yet on Saturday the whole city of Tehran
was out to say goodbye to Fardin at his funeral. The Azadi soccer stadium
remained nearly empty as an important match was being played out. It seems
clear to me as who our people think portrayed them in movies, good or bad.