Wednesday, June 27, 2012

960. Safar e Ghandehar/Kandahar (2001)

Running Time: 85 minutes
Directed By: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Written By: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Main Cast: Nelofer Pazira, Hassan Tantai, Sadou Teymouri, Hoyatala Hakimi, Ike Ogut
Click here to view the trailer


With "Hawks Week" behind me, I move ahead and wrap up the final thirteen films of this 100. Remember that this 100 was scheduled with the idea of being 40s and 2000s thick and that will become very noticeable with these final films. 

Nafas (Pazira) is an Afghan born women, who fled to Canada when she was young and became a successful reporter. When the film opens, we learn of letters that have been written to her, from her sister, who still lives in Afghanistan, in Kandahar. The letters express a deep depression from her sister, who plans to kill herself during the next eclipse, which is just three days away. Nafas goes to Afghanistan, in hopes of making it to Kandahar, despite heavy patrol and strict regulations, to save her sister's life. Along the way, she meets many people, who try and help her make it to her destination. At first, she travels with a family, playing herself off as a man's wife. Later, when the road becomes too dangerous, the family dump her and she travels with a young, poverty stricken boy, who agrees to show her the way to Kandahar for $50 American. When she meets with an intellectual and understanding doctor, he convinces her to send the boy home, as he is only out to help her for the money and does not care about her safety. The doctor takes her as far as the Red Cross, where she meets a man with only one arm, who agrees to take her the rest of the way to Kandahar.

To be honest, I went into this one expecting to not like it. I've seen several middle-eastern films during my journey through THE BOOK and none of them have really seemed to deliver. I wouldn't go so far as to call this one a "must see", but it was surprising how good it really was. The film keep the viewer entertained, with certain scenes that succeed in drawing the viewers attention to the tragedy stricken world that the Afghan people were/are living in. Certain key scenes include a group of very young children being taught to recite the Koran and recite the capabilities of assault weapons, the revealing and practice of an uneducated, American doctor and a scene at a Red Cross, where limbless victims of land mine explosions argue for wooden legs. The story sticks together pretty well and plays out like a very tragic road movie, with Nafas taking many different guides and routes on her way into Kandahar, all the while running out of time before the eclipse.

Of course, this isn't a fantastic movie or anything. The director splices staged scenes with documentary style footage and the editing is a bit wonky, to say the least. The middle-eastern music is a little tough on the ear and the actors don't seem very pronounced. What I mean is, the film opens with Nafas narrating, reading words into a tape recorder that she plans to give to her sister and all the while, there's a helicopter whirling around her. You can barely hear her and that's a running thing throughout the picture, with the actor's voices failing to reach appropriate volumes. Otherwise, if you go in expecting very little, I think you'll be surprised at how enjoyable the film can be. The title alone suggests that the word "enjoyable" shouldn't come into play, especially when you factor in the time period that it was made (right before 9/11), however it actually is and it isn't bad.

RATING: 6/10  More than likely, this one has no shot at a spot on my TOP 20, but it's worth a look, at least.


June 27, 2012  12:10pm

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