Valentine’s Day: What the “Rain” (Baran) has revealed about love and life
Here comes Valentine’s day, or cupid day, or the day when we openly express feelings of love, affection and joy. The red colour gets widely celebrated and we get surrounded by 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.
I consider myself lucky to be living in a city viewed as a crossroad of civilisations and cultures. I have the opportunity to enjoy works of art from all over the world. So when there was a special programme on Iranian Cinematography in my city (“my” has its own significance) a long time ago, I was there. I knew little about Iranian movies and 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 and made 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 the 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 such a 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 would be in the company of young women from Middle East. I would tell them how I felt about the way the “Rain” ends. Such was the impact of the movie on me. They were not surprised. They would 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 that 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 whether I had essentially felt the need to defend what I consider important in my life; to defend my identity. I consider it important to hold a “passport” as proof of my existence and the ability of others to view my existence. And to know that what I could offer to others would be actively appreciated. As Lateef was selling his passport and hence 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 your “ego”. To feel that you are “one” with those around you; those you know and maybe those you don’t know but encounter every day. How easy could it be to blend with the one you love, without worrying about your 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 and a recent meeting with an international group. This time, I made no reference to the movie. It may be that there were many topics to discuss or that I wasn’t looking for answers to the particular concerns. But then again, it could be that things I now know about myself are enough to answer these questions on my own…
A movie from a different continent, about love and life,
with a different approach and the power to make us understand ourselves better.
Have a creative week!
A blogger friend, Joanna
Should you wish to find out more about Iranian cinematography, you may read the article by Yannis Moschos, in Greek, about six current and representative masterpieces.
Photo: From Youtube clip