Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame

Film
3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
Opening with footage of the Taliban’s destruction of the giant Buddha statues at Bamiyan in 2001, this first dramatic feature from 19-year-old Hana Makhmalbaf traces life today for the children of the communities making their home in the caves at the site. When Abbas (Abbas Alijome) reads aloud from his school textbook, entranced neighbour Baktay (Nikbakht Noruz) decides she wants to go to school too, but securing a notebook and pen will be a problem since mum’s away getting water.

Moreover, finding a class prepared to take girls will present a whole other challenge, as she negotiates the rocky landscape patrolled by raggle-taggle gangs of stick-wielding boys who take their game of ‘Taliban’ very seriously.Taking its cue from the classic ‘child on a quest’ narratives of an earlier generation of Iranian film-makers (notably Panahi’s ‘The White Balloon’), this shares their intriguing authenticity of place and disarmingly direct junior performances, though on this occasion the direction’s rather scrappier round the edges.

That said, there’s a forceful message here about the inheritance of hardline attitudes by an impressionable younger generation who don’t know anything else, palpable concern for the future of young girls such as Baktay, and not a hint of sentiment in the depiction of boys’ pointed mischief. The film’s slight, often over-stated, yet affecting nonetheless, especially when Makhmalbaf finds images to let her themes take flight – paper-bag hoods for kiddie ‘hostage’ games are a truly disturbing vision of dehumanisation, a thicket of legs swinging from school chairs an index of inextinguishable eagerness for education.

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Details

Release details

Rated:
PG
Release date:
Friday July 25 2008
Duration:
77 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Hana Makhmalbaf
Screenwriter:
Hana Makhmalbaf
Cast:
Abbas Alijome
Abdolali Hoseinali
Nikbakht Noruz