“THE COLOR OF PARADISE”— An Eight-Year-Old Blind Boy

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“The Color of Paradise” 

An Eight-Year-Old Blind Boy

Amos Lassen

Mohammed is an eight-year-old blind boy in Tehran and we meet him as he is waiting for his father to pick him up for his summer vacation. As he waits, he realizes that a baby bird has fallen from its nest: he chases away a cat, finds the bird, climbs a tree, and puts it back. This act shows us the love the boy has When his father finally comes, he takes him to their village where his sisters and granny await. Mohammed loves nature and wants to life a village life with his family, but his father is ashamed of him. He wants to farm the boy out to clear the way for marriage to a woman who knows nothing of this son. Over his grandmother’s  objections, his father apprentices Mohammad far from home to a blind carpenter.

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When Mohammed got back to his village from school where his widowed father, Hashem, his two sisters, Bahareh and Hanieh, and his paternal grandmother live. He is overjoyed to be at home with his family, its female members who are as equally happy to have Mohammad back for the three-month school break. Hashem, on the other hand, feels ill equipped to deal with Mohammad. Behind Mohammad’s back, his father regards Mohammad as an embarrassment to the family and a burden. He has not even told his fiancée about Mohammad’s existence. He does whatever he can to pass on the responsibility of Mohammad to others, such as the blind carpenter in the neighboring town under whom he would like Mohammad to apprentice. His grandmother loves Mohammed as if he was her real son and is concerned  that unconditional love which is missing from his heart and that is what Mohammad so craves and deserves.

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 Director Majid Majidi shows us Mohammed as a true innocent filled with wonder and a sensitivity to everything that surrounds him. Seeing with the eyes of his heart, he is a world apart from his father who has no idea of what a treasure he has right in front of him. The film can be seen as a spiritual parable that speaks indirectly about the bounties of grace and the emptiness of a life not filled with gratitude to God.

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We see an authentic and touching performance from young Mohsen Ramezani, a natural performer who legitimizes emotions. As the film opens, Ramezani is the last student picked up at a Teheran institute for the blind, another reminder of widowed father Hossein Mahjoub’s bitterness and shame.  After returning home to his sisters and his grandmother (wonderfully portrayed Salime Feizi). As the movie forward the focus is  on the tenuous father-son relationship and, in one wrenching epiphany, we wonder if it can be redeemed.  It is very difficult to review a film that affects the viewer emotionally and I see that as I sit here and type while thinking about the experiences I had with the film.

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