About Nader, Simin, and the Iranian Society
I believe Homayoun Kheyri’s suggestions offer a new way of looking at the film “Nader and Simin, A Separation”, which makes his review of the film very important and insightful. So, with the encouragement from the commentators in Souri’s blog, I translated the piece into English, to give it more publicity.
Blogger Homayoun Kheyri has a review of the film “Nader and Simin, A Separation”, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi.
Last night I saw the film “Nader and Simin, A Separation”. I write my suggestion in case you are going to watch this film for the first time, or you have seen it already and want to see it again. Take a look at it
from this angle also.
Who is representing what? The list of who is representing what group or mentality in the Iranian society goes something like this:
Nader– Nader is representing the Iranian ‘Society’, which on one hand is bound by tradition and on the other hand by modernity.
Grandfather– The grandfather is representative of ‘Tradition’ in the Iranian society. His Alzheimer disease is the same thing as our historical memory; neither ignorable nor capable of standing on his own feet without help from Society.
Simin– Simin represents the Iranian ‘Modernity’. She is the one who has convinced Nader (Society) that they must migrate. She is a teacher. She is more knowledgeable than the rest of the characters in the film, and she knows how to negotiate.
Pregnant Woman– The pregnant woman represents ‘Religion’ in the Iranian society. She wants to help Tradition (Grandfather), to lift off the burden from the shoulders of Society (Nader), but because of overindulgence in the matters of un-cleanliness, purity, and her own canonical limitations, she is reduced to a new problem for Society. Termination of her pregnancy means exactly what you see in the Iranian society; that the theocratic society is not capable of regeneracy. This is the same thing that we call un-reformable government.
Husband– The husband of the pregnant woman is the representation of the ‘Clergy’ in the Iranian society. In his film, “under the Moonlight”, Reza Mirkarimi  narrates the clergies with the same kind of bankrupt and obligor to the people and to the world.
Tarmeh– Tarmeh, daughter of Nader and Simin, is the representation of the ‘Future’, the issue that is in entanglement between Society, Modernity, Tradition, and Religion. Tarmeh is not able to choose among them and the film ends with an omission of choice from her. She is at the age of puberty, and this is the best indicative of a society in transition.
Little Girl– The little girl is the representation of the ‘Present’; younger than anyone else, and a reporter (painter) of events. Her littleness is an indication of the present time being ignored in the Iranian society. One of the best indications of what she represents is when the oxygen tank for Grandfather (Tradition) is turned high and low by her. It is so much similar to Namjoo’s new tones.
With these suggestions you can see the relationship between different characteristics of the Iranian life. I will present some examples:
Simin (Modernity), Pregnant Woman (Religion), Tarmeh (Future), and Little Girl (Present) are all of the same gender and all of them have the ability to regenerate. However, all of them need another operative for fertility. The product of the union between the procreators and the operatives is very interesting. For example, Future is the product of Society and Modernity, which you can always see these types of situations. The existence of Tarmeh means that Society (Nader) and Modernity (Simin) were able to create Future. It is always like this. The present world, with its new manifestations, is the concurrence between each society and its innovations. However, when you get to the product of Clergy (Husband) and Religion (Pregnant Woman), you will notice that one of their outputs is the present situation (Little Girl), who is just an observer, a nobody except a reporter of the events; but the efforts by Clergy and Religion for the modern people, in the form of the pregnancy of the woman, run into harsh encounters by Society, and remains unfulfilled.
The interesting point is that it is not the rejection by Society (Nader), who is trying to retain Tradition, that ends the woman’s regenerancy, rather it is Tradition (Grandfather) that pulls Religion (Pregnant Woman) towards himself and causes the end of her pregnancy. When Pregnant Woman (Religion) goes to find Grandfather (Tradition), she finds him by a newspaper stand. This newspaper stand is the same place that has always been talked about to him. It is the same place from which Nader (Society) brings back newspapers to him. The newspaper stand is Grandfather’s (Tradition’s) favorite place. Well, in place of the newspaper stand substitute ‘Norooz Celebration’ , or ‘Chahar Shanbeh Soori’ , to figure out how subtle this is.
Pregnant Woman (Religion) goes after Grandfather (Tradition) and finds him by the newspaper stand (Norooz Celebration or Chahar Shanbeh Soori). She goes to bring him back, but at the end of the film we find out that while she was trying to do this she was hit by a car, which caused her to have a miscarriage; meaning, this was not Society who set aside Religion, rather this was the reality of the external world that terminated Religion’s regeneracy.
There are two significant scenes between Society (Nader), Religion (Pregnant Woman), and Tradition (Grandfather), both of which happen in the bathroom. One of scenes is when Nader is bathing his father, and ends up breaking in tears because of his plight, and the other one is when Pregnant Woman is changing Grandfather’s clothes in that same bathroom. For bathing his father, Nader uses gloves to wash him; and also for changing Grandfather’s clothes, Pregnant Woman uses gloves too. However, if you notice the difference between the gloves you would see that Nader’s gloves gets him wet [Society is affected by Tradition], but Pregnant Woman’s gloves prevents her from getting wet [Religion is not influenced by Tradition].
The Husband’s (Clergy’s) anger of his Pregnant Woman (Religion), his tantrum when he shouts that we are humans too, his debts, and losing his job, all are indicatives of a religious government’s operatives. There is also one more thing in the film that in my opinion is Asghar Farhadi’s sarcasm in regards to the events following the disputed election, and that is the companionment of the clergies with the hoodlums. It was very very interesting.
Nader, Simin, and Tarmeh are coming out of the pregnant woman’s house when their sights fall upon their car. Husband (Clergy), being angry because of the unresolved situation, money not being collected, and the creditors’ demands not being met, has left the house. Then, after the car is in motion we notice that its front windshield is smashed.
Do you remember the police and the basijies’ batons during the protest events? Do you recall that the basijies and the police were hitting car windows with batons? When the religion leaders of Iran were not able to restrain the society, they coalesced with the hoodlums. The most well known example of this cooperation was the breaking of car windows during the aftermath of the disputed election. In the film, from the unproductiveness of Religion and inability of Clergy we reach the point of vandalism by breaking of the car windshield.
Asghar Farhadi is saying that the Iranian society’s quarrel is about preservation of its traditions verses modernity; and it is the religion that for the sake of rescuing the helpless clergy involves itself in a task that at the end renders it infertile also. When Tarmeh (Future) helplessly is trying to decide whether to remain with Society and Tradition (Nader and Grandfather), or whether to stay with Modernity (Simin), the only revelation that we have from Religion (Pregnant Woman) and Clergy (Husband) is that one of them is no longer pregnant and the other one is in trouble with the creditors.
Written by Homayoun Kheyri.
Translated by Yours Truly, MPD.
 Reza Mirkarimi is an Iranian film writer and director >>>
 Norooz Celebration is the Persian new year celebrating the coming of spring equinox >>>
 Chahar Shanbeh Soori is a celebration on the last Wednesday of the year in the Persian calendar >>>
همایون خیری، وبلاگنویس، نگاهی دارد به فیلم جدایی نادر از سیمین. ساخته اصغر فرهادی
ترجمه به انگلیسی