Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Color of Paradise and Reading God’s Wor(l)d

Still of blind boy and young girl in Iranian film

The Iranian film Color of Paradise by Majid Majidi, which in its original title literally translates as “God's Color,” is an impressive and genuinely moving spiritual portrait of a blind boy who is rejected not only by society but by his very own father.

Mohammed is a creative, generally content and ingenious boy who despite of his visual impairment manages to climb trees, run through fields, and study literature and poetry with fervor and enthusiasm.

Yet his father, a widow, sees him as a source of embarrassment, especially since he would like to remarry. As a result, he keeps Mohammed's existence hidden from the family of his bride-to-be. He only mentions his two daughters and wants nothing to get into the way of his impending marriage. This cruel and calculated behavior does not remain hidden from the kind and observant eyes of his own mother, Mohammed's beloved grandmother.

The movie manages to give us a heart-rendering glimpse of this blind boy's life. With him we hear the myriad sounds of nature, the chirping and singing of birds, and the constant almost hypnotic knocks of the woodpecker. Mohammed pays full attention to all of those sounds and strongly believes that nature and the birds are communicating with each other, and he tries his best to decipher this ominous language.

I was reminded of the medieval assumption that the world is a creation of God, who as its “author” has left various hidden signs for those who can “see” and read them. Mohammed is pure and innocent, and he is looking to break through and understand this magnificent and for him doubly hidden, mysterious world.

His reading of the world is not necessarily symbolic, yet it is tactile, which makes it much more sensuous. Braille is a form of reading that is closely related to touch, where the words glide and take shape under your fingertips.

In fact, using his hands, Mohammed “reads” all the objects, and even people in his surrounding world. With his fingers he touches his sister's face and realizes that she has “grown a lot.” He touches flowers, barley, sand, and believes that they have letters ingrained in them; he wants to get to the source of their existence from which he hopes to infer the invisible presence of God.

Apart from its religious and philosophical connotations, in its simplest and most basic form, the movie is an appeal to not reject people because of impairments, yet at the same time not to pity them either.
Mohammed wants to be treated like all the other kids and his happiest moments are when he is playing with his sisters in the fields or when he is allowed to enter their school and participate with the other children.

He is not a victim; he is strong enough to overcome and compensate for his lack of sight while his curiosity and lust for life lead him to discoveries and realizations that only the pure-hearted and most faithful can obtain.


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Chandira said...

Thank you, that sounds really interesting! I will see if I can find a copy. :-)

Gabrielle said...

It is a nice movie. Believe it or not I found it at school's library a year ago (I guess) and I loved it...
My favorite scenes were the ones with his grandma.
By the way, I'll need many more movie recomendations