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A Time for Drunken Horses (Bahman Ghobadi) 2000

2000's Iranian entry in the Best Foreign Film race is another example of foreign film as sociology lecture. A Time for Drunken Horses begins with a preface from its director explaining this film is a portrait of his people (the Kurds) and their struggles against adversity. The film shows the story of a group of orphaned children as they attempt to overcome the adversities in life. One of the children is disfigured (think Simon Birch) and needs an operation that can only be obtained in the bordering country in order to stave off his death. His younger brother becomes a smuggler, carrying goods across the Iraqi/Iranian border, to raise this money. The problem is that the film doesn't have much to say about it's subjects. It questions the reasons of a political border, as the people on both sides are Kurds that lead the same lifestyle, yet they view each other as different. There is also an interesting scene in which a girl is traded for a mule, and no one feels particularly slighted! 

The film is pretty typical of Iranian films, in that it is slow-paced, well-shot, and acted by what seems to be a cast of amateurs. I think this is one of those films that you'll like more if you have a bleeding heart. They beat on animals & abuse kids & women. If the thought of seeing this horrifies you, and you feel a particular need to see this on the big screen to reassure yourself how removed from those savages you are, by all means go. If you prefer to see a film which attempts to present a justification / solution / explanation / viewpoint on the lives it shows though, you don't have much to see here...

 **

September, 2001

Jeremy Heilman