“A Separation” Film Analysis

1015 words | 4 page(s)

1. Before watching the 2011 Iranian film “A Separation”, I actually had a positive geographical imagination about Iran, despite the constant propaganda in the United States media against Iran. As a young person, I was very interested in history and learned much about the ancient Persian empire, one of the oldest cultures in the world, as well as the ancient Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism. I was also familiar roughly with some of the great poets of Iran from the Islamic period, such as Rumi, even though I had actually never read his work. I knew that this country had a very deep and long cultural history, with numerous contributions to the human race. As a young person I also had friends who were immigrants from Iran, of the Bahai faith. They did leave because of the Islamic revolution in Iran, but never had anything negative to say about Iran itself, instead understanding that this was a political change and radical political changes cause immigration with those who do not agree with the new political institution.

They never complained about this event, they took it very realistically, as a reality of geopolitics. From a further geopolitical perspective, personally I have a lot of sympathy for the Palestinian cause, and I know that Iran has been active in helping the Palestinians’ desperate conditions. On a side note, I enjoy reading horror fiction, especially very experimental horror fiction, and the Iranian author Reza Negarestani has wrote an excellent book entitled Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anomalous Materials, which has been praised by other contemporary fiction writes such as China Mieville. Thus, my conceptions of Iran have always been positive. All of this has been re-enforced by watching this excellent film, which shows the Iranian people just like any other people, instead of attempting to demonize them as the American media does.

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2. In the film there are numerous identities at place, which are closely tied together. For example, the main husband and wife pair in the film, Simin and Nader, are part of the middle class, and can be said to be a certain extent less religious. At the same time, as middle class, there seems to be more equality on the level of gender. For example, it is Simin who wants to leave the country, whereas Nader does not. The possibility of such diverse views on such an important issue and even the proposed divorce proceedings which follow from their disagreement shows a basic equality on the level of gender roles. The more patriarchal gender roles, however, are shown in the case of the lower class couple, Hojdat and Razieh. Hojdat, for example, is furious that Razieh has taken a job as a caregiver without him knowing. He is a dominant personality, and perhaps even violent, as Nader suspects, perhaps causing Razieh’s miscarriage.

At the same time, in the film it is revealed that this may be the result of mental illness from Nader. Nevertheless, this couple has a more traditional patriarchal style relationship, alongside their lower class status. Razieh is arguably the most religious character in the film, and this could also be explained in terms of her status as a female in an abusive relationship, turning towards her faith as an answer for her troubles. Therefore, it would perhaps be a stretch to say that various identities have any influence whatsoever. In order to make this claim, for example, we would have to say that religious people are generally from the lower classes. This could be proven empirically, but is not necessarily the case. Furthermore, Razieh’s religious devotion could just be a familial tradition or the result of a traumatic relationship. To say that only lower class people have violent marriages is a clear exaggeration. The upper class couple of Nader and Simin also have problems in their relationship. Instead of focusing on group identities, I think, therefore, that the film makes the case that the problems which affect everyday life transcend the various brackets and categories of religion, gender or identity and there is rather a common humanity that is communicated in the film that goes beyond these simplified categories.

3. The role of the state in the film appears to be much like how any government in any country functions: taking on social issues in their own way, for example, in the court case about Razieh’s potential miscarriage or the potential divorce between Simin and Nader. Certainly, Iran has a theocratic government, where religion plays a key role in government functions. This is demonstrated in a scene where Razieh phones a religious hotline so as to ask if she can tend to Nader’s father after he has urinated himself. Certainly, this religious hotline is government sponsored, but we can easily imagine some evangelical Christian phoning her local church hotline to ask for advice in a similar situation. The current Vice President of the United States Mike Pence has recently been noted to not want to even attend dinner with a woman who is not his wife. If he was from Iran, it would be certain that the U.S. media would be saying how primitive and backwards he is.

At the same time, I would also argue that the government of Iran is much more transparent than the U.S. government. In Iran, one knows who has power and the theocratic inclination of the state. It has consistent foreign policy decisions based on this direction, such as support for Palestine. In the U.S., no one knows really who holds power. Trump ran on a non-interventionist policy, radically opposed to the war policy of Hillary Clinton, but he is bombing countries now just as Clinton would have done, as he demonstrated with regards to his complete reversal on Syria, now helping Al-Qaeda controlled villages, just as he said he would not help ISIS or Al-Qaeda. In the United States, therefore, we actually have no idea who is making the policy decisions for the country, since the war agenda in foreign policy remains even though there are some elections between supposed opponents of Democrats and Republicans.

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