Released in 1997, the Iranian film, ‘Children of Heaven’ is a story of two siblings from a lower class, who struggles with, and, for a pair of shoe. Directed by Majid Majidi, film casts Mir Farrokh Hashemian as Ali and Bahare Seddigi as Zahara in the lead roles.
First shot of a nine year old boy getting a pink worn out shoes repaired from a cobbler, establishes what the whole film is going to be about. Ali (Mir Farrokh Hashemian) and Zahara (Bahare Seddigi) both have a pair of shoe each and predicament starts when Ali loses her sister’s shoes at a vegetable shop when coming back after getting them fixed. Fearing that they will be getting scolded badly they decide to hide the loss from their parents. They are now left with only Ali’s sneakers which Zahara wears in morning while going to school and handover to Ali for he studies in evening school. Ali always gets late for his school waiting for Zahara and Zahara is always compelled to come early from school with this setting. All Ali can think of now is to acquire a pair of shoes somehow. He has an opportunity to get a smart pair of sneakers as prize by participating in a footrace, but not by winning, rather coming on the second position.
Film, in most part, dot around Ali and Zahara’s desire for just a pair of shoe, so that both of them can comfortably lead their school lives. Two kids have acted as naturally as any kid would feel who has lost their one and only pair of footwear. Maturity of elder brother and innocence of a nine year old boy, both the emotions were being beautifully played by Mir Farrokh. Scene, where Zahara give up and a start crying after her one sneaker falls in an open gutter, would not let you move on without shedding a tear. You would feel like giving the kids a brand pair of shoe right that moment. Although, the film, originally known as ‘Bacheha-Ye-Asemanas’ is in Persian language but the fact is you that don’t need to watch this film in any of the language for acting is so subtle of all the actors.
Not only performance of all the actors, but the treatment given to the whole film, including camera work, dialogue, and lighting, is realistic and director has not tried to give any hidden meaning with their use either. The whole Foot race is been shot very realistically with only using the sound of foot taps and heavy breaths of Ali. Though, it is a story of two siblings of a poor family, film does not focus on their or Iran’s poverty. But, Majid has shot the prevailed economic disparity. Scenes where Ali is participating in race with hundred other pamperd children and his father’s door-to-door hunt for work in city amidst big lavishing house are example of it. Film’s focus is very narrow and director does not loose it even for a single shot. That is what too makes the film gripping and entertaining. The end of the movie leaves you as mesmerised as did its beginning.
[Image courtesy: http://addacmcs.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/children-of-heaven4.jpg]