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The Color of Paradise

This is not the time or place to ponder how overrated Iranian film has become in the last ten years. Suffice it to say that The Color of Paradise, the most recent Iranian film to be released here on DVD (by Columbia TriStar via Sony Pictures Classics), is an anthology of all the elements that supposedly sophisticated foreign film buffs fall for like rugrats for Pokemon trinkets. The film has it all: a sympathetic kid, wise family elders, a journey undertaken by an adult and a child, rural prejudice, a documentary feel, an obvious theme. In this case, it's that blind boy Mohammad (Mohsen Ramezani) can "see" better than his desperate, widowed father Hashem (Hossein Mahjub), who has fetched the boy from school back to their village in northern Iran. There, Hashem attempts to take on a new, young bride and apprentices Mohammad out to a distant carpenter. However, when all of Hashem's plans fall apart, the man scoops up the boy from the carpenter and begins a trek back to the village. An accident occurs, and Hashem fears that his son is dead. But as the film ends, the child responds to a ray of sunlight that touches his hand. Director Majid Majidi (Children of Heaven) offers up this pabulum with all the usual sentimentality we have come to expect from recent kid-filled Iranian films such as The White Balloon and The Apple. Yes, one must admire the integrity of many Iranian films, which attempted to chronicle unmediated reality. But directors such as Majidi can just as easily slip into conventional Hollywood, or Disneyfied, plot constructions and faked suspense, and they don't do it quite as well. The amateur actors and documentary-style visuals make the beginning of the film, set in a real school for the blind, more interesting than what follows. CTHV's disc offers a very good transfer in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with a mono audio track in Farsi accompanied by English, French, or Spanish subtitles. Theatrical trailers for The Color of Paradise and other Sony pictures, talent files. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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