THE AFGHAN BRIDE
Iran, 2004, 107 minutes, Colour.
Directed by Abolqasem Talebi.
The Afghan Bride is a spectacular and interesting story. The locations are a huge castle fort in Afghanistan, the Afghan countryside and cities, Pakistan and his countryside and Lahore. The widescreen photography takes full advantage of these locations.
The film focuses on a young man, Gol Mohammed, who has been imprisoned by the Taliban because of his objections against their policy of education of girl students. When he is released, he returns home to the surprise of everyone who thought he was dead, including his intended in marriage and her father who has promised her to someone else. The father is persuaded to wait for Gol Mohammed to earn the money and come back and wed his daughter.
The teacher goes into Pakistan to work to earn money. He has to be smuggled in and, when getting the money, smuggled out. However, he is caught again and imprisoned in the castle fort. The prisoners are in rebellion against their harsh treatment and many of them are massacred. He is wounded. He is able to make his way back again to the town where the father is persuaded that he will lose face and be reported by spies if he doesn't allow the young man to marry his daughter. The film ends with a great celebration.
Not overly melodramatic, the film is beautiful to look at, interesting to watch and reveals a great deal about the experience of Iranians? and Afghanistanis during the Taliban era and during the American bombing. Television continually shows George Bush and the bombings - and the film is based on a tragic situation where the guests at a wedding fired shots into the air and a bomb was dropped on them.
1. An interesting and entertaining film? Topical? Universal? Revealing the experiences in Iran and Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002?
2. The spectacular location photography, the fort, its exteriors and interiors? The town, the countryside, glimpses of Pakistan and the city mosques? The desert, night and day? The workplaces? The wedding celebration? The atmospheric musical score?
3. The focus on the teacher, seeing him released from the fort, long-haired and bearded, his making his way home, people finding out that he was still alive, his relations, the young boy, the bride and hearing the news, waiting for him? His proposal, the pressure on the father to keep his promise? The teacher going into Pakistan, his months of working, accumulating some money? The decision to return into Afghanistan, climbing through the barbed wire at night? Making his way hope, the capture, his being imprisoned? The dire situation of the prisoners, their calling for water, sanitary help, for food? The guns turned on them, his being wounded, the hole in the wall and his escape? The help from the warder and his sympathy? His struggling home, his wounds, the wounds being concealed? His relations and their welcoming him? The pressure on the father to go on with the wedding, the double wedding, a cover for spies and reporting to the authorities? The happy marriage, the celebration - and the tragedy of the bomb falling?
4. The father of the family, the businessman, wanting the money, promising his daughter? His changing his mind, waiting for the teacher to return? The final influences on his judgment and the celebration of the wedding? His daughter, the effect of the war, mute? Beginning to communicate? Her mother and the preparation of the wedding trousseau? The return of her fiance, her happiness, the wedding, the tragedy of their deaths? Her mother, her support, working with her, the dresses? A portrait of a family?
5. The prisoners in the fort, the wardsman and his friendliness with the teacher, warning him? The return, the clamour for water from the prisoners? Their squalid existence? The soldiers firing on them? The wardsman returning with the water for the men? A commentary on the Afghan prisons, the treatment by the Taliban?
6. The incidental characters, the relations, the workers, the young boy? The way of life during the Taliban years, the American attack?
7. The place of the Americans, the attitude of Iranians and Afghans? The bombings? The television footage and George Bush? Making a perennial kind of story more relevant to the 21st century?