Nun va Goldoon (A Moment of Innocence) (1996)
Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Starring: Mirhadi Tayebi (The Policeman), Mohsen Makhmalbaf (The Director), Ali Bakhsi (The Young Director), Ammar Tafti (The Young Policeman), Maryam Mohamadamini (The Young Woman).
1970's; future filmmaker a teenage Islamic militant fighting against the Shah, who stabs a policeman and is jailed
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
Iran. Mirhadi Tayebi, who was a policeman twenty years ago, comes looking for the director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Someone gives him the right directions and he runs into the director's little daughter. She starts asking him a lot of questions without really understanding the answers. She asks him why he quit being a policeman. Well, he was stabbed some 20 years ago, so he resigned. Her father then was only 17 and was a political militant. The former policemen leaves his name and address with the daughter.
The camera man Zinal is working with a group of young actors who are vying to play the role of the policeman in a Makhmalbaf film about his past. The name of the film is "In Search of the Young Policeman". He is capturing their interviews on film. The actual former policeman who was stabbed, Mirhadi, is right there to help select the best person to perform the role. The camera man and the director want one of the actors, while the former policeman wants another. Mirhadi is so sure he is right that when he does not get his way he walks off the film. Zinal actually has to run to catch up with him and bring him back. Mirhadi finally agrees to accept the director and camera man's choice. He agrees to have his picture taken with the fellow, Ammar Tafti. Ammar will play the young policeman and Mirhadi will play the older policeman.
Mirhadi is given the task of telling the young actor everything about himself, his work and the actual stabbing. He starts with teaching the actor how to salute, how to keep his hand on the holster and pistol at all times, how to walk, etc. He tells Ammar that he tried to give a white flower to a girl and got stabbed. When Ammar does not take the instruction that seriously, Mirhadi gets mad and scolds him for his bad acting. The girlfriend of the man who stabbed him, the director, was with him when he was stabbed and they were both arrested. Her job was to distract the policeman.
The director tries to instruct Ali Bakhsi about his youth, to help the young actor prepare for the part. They drive to the director's cousin's house to ask her if she would allow her daughter, Maryam) to play her part in the film. The girlfriend was actually his cousin. At the house his cousin tells him "no". But the daughter really wants to be in the film. She gets very mad at her mother and really lets her have it. She goes on and on complaining to her mother. The director asks Ali if his own cousin might not play the role of the young woman in the film. She might is the answer. So they drive over to where the young man's cousin is at school. She meets the director and Ali tells him that his cousin wants the part. Great!
The next morning the director gives Ali and Maryam some pointers about their roles. He is filming in village streets that are covered by roofs. He tells them that he wants them to shout out things against the regime. He used bread to cover the knife. But as the scene comes to the point of the stabbing, Ali starts crying saying that he does not want to stab anyone. The director tells him to stop, but he has a hard time doing so. Shooting the scene, the future director tells his cousin to go ahead. She walks ahead of him, but the actress finds that there is no policeman there to ask directions. So they have to shoot this part again when the other young actor shows up in the role of policeman.
When everything is ready, there is another problem. When Mirhadi sees the young cousin as the girl the policeman liked, he walks off again. And once again Zinal has to chase after him. Mirhadi is of the believe that the girl is too young for the part. She does not look like the real girl who distracted him 20 years earlier. Mirhadi says that he has been adrift for 20 years because of that girl. (At one point the former policeman has the actor playing him shoot the girl because she helped ruin his life. In real life the cousin had practiced asking the policeman directions once a day and Mirhadi became entranced with her.)
They run over the scene again. Mirhadi says to his actor that: "I didn't know she didn't love me and I wanted to shoot her."
The final scene in the knife scene is shot. The film stops as the pistol and knife almost touch.
The movie was kind of weird. The former policeman character was a bit crazy, contributing to the weirdness of the film. A bit confusing at times was the intermixing of the rehearsal scenes with the actual filmed scenes. And there was not much history revealed in the movie. Apparently, the director was a political rebel and he and his cousin protested against the Shah or Iran. He stabbed a policeman and he and his cousin were arrested and jailed. And that's about all the history there is.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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