September 3, 1996
For those of us who think of film as storytelling, it is sometimes difficult
to comprehend those who see film as poetry. Mohsen Makhmalbaf is one of
Iran's best known filmmakers, although ignored by the press and barely tolerated
by the government. Werner Herzog was on hand to introduce "Gabbeh"
and explain the Iranian fascination with poetry; the only reason the government
does tolerate Makhmalbaf is because he is seen as a poet. He certainly
is a visual poet! 'Gabbeh" is a love story about a young woman, who
belongs to a nomadic rug-weaving tribe, and the horseman who wants to marry
her. But it is the visual imagery of the sheep, the wool being dyed, the
rugs being made that take center stage. When her uncle stops at a nomadic
school to give a lesson, the sheer power of the colors is breathtaking.
He reaches towards a field and returns with a handful of yellow flowers;
to the sky, and his hand turns blue. The rug that Gabbeh is washing changes
under the water, and different aspects of the story are highlighted.
While everyone commented on the colors and the visuals, no one I talked
to seemed to take the story to heart. Our linear thinking prevents it.
But thinking of "Gabbeh" as poetry instead of narrative certainly
broadens the view.
Back to 1996 Cannes Film Festival Reviews
Back to 1996 New York Film Festival Reviews
Back to 1996 Telluride Film Festival Reviews
Back to Gabbeh
Back to the Press Room
Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.
Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.