The red ribbon
Hatamikia's new film goes right to the heart
By Najmeh Fakhraie
May 17, 2000
Once in a while you leave the movie theater not only laughing about
the weird hairdo of the person who sat in front of you, but actually "thinking"
about the film. How these moments occur and what causes them I am not sure,
but one thing I do know is that it takes courage and much brilliance to
make people think.
I had such a moment a week ago when I went to see Ebrahim Hatamikia's
wonderful film "The Red Ribbon", at a private screening (the
public screening was a few months back). Gorgeous in scenery and rather
intriguing in plot, I can say that this movie is one of a kind. It takes
place in the desert, and only stars three actors (if you don't count the
turtle) and it amazes me to see how much one can say with only three people
and a camera.
Idealists always believe that all their efforts are toward giving people
a better life. But once they come to power and try to carry out their theories
-- which are only based on imaginary beliefs and no real facts -- they
end up wearing the people out. And only then do they begin to think of
This occurs when all their ideas have faded and a second generation
who is looking toward a future is born. -- of course, a future that is
based on reality. And only those who still believe in imaginary theories
are left from the first generation. These people don't know where they
have gone wrong. They haven't realized what caused the people to turn their
backs on them. They blame society's misfortunes on two things: illusive
powers they have no control over, and the second "misguided"
David, the bearded rough looking man, whose job is taking out land mines,
represents the first generation; Jomeah, the mysterious Afghani who lives
in a dump where a thousand war tanks are kept, is the second. And Mahboubeh
who has lost everything and now only wants to live, represents the people.
Theories which are only based on illusion never get you anywhere. But
those who do believe in them, and have a chance to force their beliefs
on people claim that their deeds are only for the well-being of society.
They encourage death, self-sacrifice and devotion and claim that this will
all bring us a better future, where we can all live comfortably. But for
now no one has the right to do so! In other words they say: put everything
on the line for something that may (or may not) happen many many years
David is the guardian of the past, and Jomeah is looking toward the
future, and they both want Mahboubeh - the people - on their own side,
while overlooking the fact that the people are living in the present --
somewhere neither Jomeah or David exist.
I want to thank Mr. Hatamikia so very much for moving me and audiences
all around the country. And I want to thank him for another reason , more
important then all the rest: if you can't get it all together to accomplish
this thing called "peace", you at least do your own part in your
own life, because that's where you can make an immediate difference.
I don't think for a minute that if there is ever going to be peace in
this country, a politician or diplomat is going to be the one to achieve
it. It will be people like Mr. Hatamikia, and fellow artists at home and
abroad who might one day be able to help with the process. Because unlike
politicians, they hit our hearts, not our minds and the heart is one big
sucker for embracing beauty and wanting to give some of it back.
Najmeh Fakhraie is a 16-year-old student in Tehran.