The Experience

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami.
With Hossein Yarmohammadi, Andre Govalovish, Parviz Naderi.
Iran, 1973, DCP, black & white, 60 min.
Persian with English subtitles.
DCP source: Janus Films

Similar to the determined protagonist in The Traveler, the orphaned, adolescent, and essentially homeless Mamad also has set his mind on an elusive goal made difficult, if not impossible, due to his poverty. Working as an errand boy in a photography studio, Mamad seems to be able to survive a nearly loveless life by engaging in an escapist fantasy world, its center a beautiful girl from a wealthy family. Shooting in beautifully composed black-and-white, Kiarostami adapted a story by Amir Naderi—who also co-scripted the film—without excessive melodrama or even music. The camera focuses on the bare bones existence of an imaginative boy as he sleeps at work, finds places to bathe, endures constant badgering by the adults around him, and amazingly, is still inspired to sneak and joke around, even if no one—except the film audience—is there to appreciate it. Socially isolated and misunderstood, Mamad is somewhat shielded by a romantic artist’s mind which aids in his resilience and optimism, yet it does not always protect him from the raw injustices of life in the margins.

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