BRICK AND MIRROR
[KHESHT O AYENEH خشت و آینه]
Iranian cinema's first true modern masterpiece, BRICK AND MIRROR explores fear and responsibility in the aftermath of the 1953 coup d'état. With its title alluding to a poem by Attar ("What the old can see in a mud-brick/youth can see in a mirror"), Ebrahim Golestan's first feature mixes dream and reality, responding to the changing climate of Iranian society, the failure of intellectuals and corruption in all walks of life. It was also the first use of direct-sound in the Iranian cinema, with minute attention given to environmental sound (emphasized by the lack of score), which lends atmosphere and counterpoint to the sumptuous widescreen visuals. The film's production began in the spring of 1963 with a small crew of five, and without a finished script. The only written part — the driver and the woman in the ruins — became the basis for the first shoot, followed by improvised scenes in the vegetable market of Tehran. The film premiered on January 12, 1966, at the Radio City cinema in Tehran. It played for three weeks, but was dismissed by critics as "arty" and "pretentious." Those who saw BRICK AND MIRROR as a realist film were baffled by the long soliloquies given by characters. Jonathan Rosenbaum has described the spirit of the film as "a mix of Dostoevsky and Expressionism." The soliloquy form reflects both Golestan's regard for Orson Welles and the oral storytelling and frequent use of metaphor in Persian culture. Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna. (Note adapted from Il Cinema Ritrovato.) DIR/SCR/PROD Ebrahim Golestan. Iran, 1964, b&w, 126 min. In Persian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
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