Valentine’s Day: What the “Rain” (Baran) has revealed about love and life
There goes Valentine’s day, the day when we openly express feelings of love, affection and joy. And celebrate colour red: red hearts, red roses, and red balloons. Perfect day to watch a romantic movie. Like the Iranian movie I saw a long time ago. I have seen many movies in my life; few have resonated with me like this particular movie.
It was during a special programme on Iranian Cinematography in my city (“my” has its own significance) when I decided to see the Rain (Baran), a movie directed by Majid Majidi. I was impressed with the captivating images and random dialogue about love and life. Until today, I can remember how I felt when the movie ended.
About the movie
In case you haven’t seen it, the plot in a few words and with my own eyes: Lateef is a young man aged 17 who works at a construction site, making coffee for the workers. His passport is the only asset he possesses. Without it he ceases to exist, on paper and in essence.
The day comes when his boss announces that he will be replaced by a timid boy and take on harder tasks. He accepts in anger. He is angry because he feels that the young boy has deprived him of his job, making his life harder. He starts to cause problems to this boy. Until the day he discovers that his “opponent” is a young girl, from Afghanistan, pretending to be a boy to support her family financially. He keeps the secret to himself. A romantic love grows between them, from a distance, without exchanging a single word.
At some point, Lateef finds out that the young girl’s family plan to return to Afghanistan. They all know that they may not reach their destination, yet they are determined to carry on with their plan. They are limited by money. He decides to help them by selling his passport. He leaves the money at the entrance of the house, without saying a single word. On the day of the departure, amid the rain, he watches his beloved leave. He is smiling.
True, I can still remember how I felt when the movie ended. I was angry with Lateef. It was as if I was witnessing the events up close and couldn’t understand how a young man would make the decision to sell his passport, the only proof of his existence and some secure future. I could see a young man sacrificing himself without getting the recognition he deserved. No one knew what he had done. Lateef didn’t exist anymore, yet he felt happy. He was standing in the rain smiling. How could that be?
Chatting with female friends
Time went by. Somewhere abroad, I’d be in the company of young women from Middle East. I’d tell them how I felt about the way the “Rain” ends. Such was the impact of the movie on me. They weren’t surprised. They’d explain why the young man was happy. When he sold his passport, he may have ceased to exist on paper, yet he existed on a different level. He had put aside his “ego” and expectations and had bonded with the young girl on a spiritual level. He knew he existed. He had experienced strong and beautiful feelings without expecting or longing for reciprocity. He was filled with happiness. So I remember them say.
As I was explaining how I felt about the movie ending, I started to wonder what was really going on for me then. Could it be that I felt the need to defend what I consider important in my life: my identity? I consider it important to hold a “passport” as proof of my existence and the ability of others to see “me”. And to know that what I could offer to others would be actively appreciated. As Lateef was selling his passport and so losing identity, maybe, maybe I came to realise that at some point in our life, for various reasons, we may all lose our identity; some proof of existence. And maybe, maybe I wasn’t prepared for such loss.
As I was hearing a different approach to the movie ending, I started to wonder how easy it could be in the age of individualism, to put aside our “ego”. To feel that we are “one” with those around us; those we know and maybe those we don’t know but encounter every day. How easy could it be to blend with the one we love, without worrying about our own identity? To stand in the rain of difficulties and be happy to exist through love, disregarding the ego and its identity.
Back to life today. I have recently met up with an international group, including young people from Asia. This time, I made no reference to the movie. Maybe there were many topics to discuss or I simply wasn’t looking for answers to the particular concerns. Maybe the things I now know about myself are enough to answer questions on my own…
Baran, a movie from a different continent, about love and life, with a different approach and the power to make us understand ourselves better.
To find out more about Iranian cinematography, you can read the article by Yannis Moschos, in Greek, about six current and representative masterpieces.