Friday, December 30, 2011

Bahram Bayzai

A year ago or more I was watching an Iranian documentary, "Tehran Has No More Pomegranates!" The film is very good, and I should talk about it at length, but one of the things that keeps me thinking back to it is a certain scene. There is a clip of two women walking down a street in Tehran as the tracking camera floats along with them, like in a Tarkovsky film.

The scene can be found at exactly 1:07:50

Haunting right? All this time later, I finally decided to just email the director Massoud Bakhshi and he wrote me back right away.

The film is "Kalagh" or The Raven, by a director named Bahram Bayzai. He is one of the auteurs of the pre-revolutionary Iranian New Wave, and judging from the few clips I've seen, a fellow disciple of the Tarkovsky/Parajanov cult of dream projection cinema. A lot of this comes down to a familiar use of "sculpting in time", or figures and ideas floating in and out of the frame as our gaze moves along with the tracking shot.

Here is an example from Bashu, The Little Stranger:

Excuse the vaguely Scandinavian incoherence here, but note the atmospheric similarities to Tarkovsky's "Sacrifice". Move past the credits and look at these mirror shots at 01:23.

Apparently, he is best known for his absurdist plays and his 1971 film Ragbar (Downpour), which I should be looking for soon.

As a final thought, there should be a better name for the uncharted emotional territory that Absurdism as a genre encompasses. It is bigger than the irrational. Surrealism of its kind speaks directly to a super-cognitive area of the brain, and is wordlessly understood. This is different than fish on bicycles, or randomness for its own sake. It is parallel communication of some kind, and deserves its own consideration as an artistic technique.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011