Lost films appear from time to time and receive their critical appreciation, places in the canon and sometimes a certain degree of popular acceptance. But rarely do we see such a contemporary and impressive filmy re-enactment as Mohammad Reza Aslani’s “the failures of the wind.”The magnificent drama, which aroused critical hostility and public indifference when it premiered on TV in 1976, was banned by the Islamic Republic and was considered lost until 2014, when the director’s son discovered a box containing a copy of the film in an order store. Now restored under the auspices of Martin Scorsese’s World film Project, it arrives in theaters This week as the most unlikely revelation: a nearly 50-year-old masterpiece, a hitherto not-known practice.
Aslani, a poet and production designer who has directed short documentaries, was only 32 years old when he commented on his long narrative medium with “Chess of the Wind” (it was presented last year at the New York Film Festival under the name “Chess Game of the Wind”, a title that makes a little more sense). Perhaps, if it had been older and more established, the Film would have been received with more attention and value, but its lack of contemporary prestige is still surprising, because even judging by the Iranian and international filmy treasures of the 70s, Aslani’s Vision is still breathtaking, a succinctly devastating social critique, rooted in a complex history of intrigue, greed, oppression and execute. The Film is also, and perhaps most strikingly, a stylistic tour de Force.
The story takes place in the early 1920s, the last years of the Qajar Dynasty that ruled Iran since the 18th. Aslani’s film was created three years before the end of the Dynasty that followed the Kadjars, the Pahlevis, and no doubt the Iranian audience will have understood that the earlier era must have involved the discovery of the current monarchy. Indeed, many Iranian films of the 1970s were full of sadness, discontent and dissent; the shadow of an unpopular broad Shah seemed to hang over the most developed and daring artists of his empire.
To awaken the world of the Qajars, the former production designer made the inspired decision to play the story of the film in a mansion that is almost himself a character, one of the most important in the film. Sandy colors, with high columns, doors and windows decorated with bright stained-glass windows, this archetypal Persian house is not only the place where the drama takes place; This is also, in a sense, what it’s all about — since the inner family is in a state of rapid collapse, the house represents both an incredible Vision of stability and the wealth that everyone aspires to.
Significantly, this family is without paternal families when the story begins. The person supposedly responsible is a tall, dark-haired woman, Lady Aghdas (a performance by FAKHRI Khorvash), who spends much of the drama in a large, very mobile wooden wheelchair. In addition to being a friendly maid (the first performance of Shohreh Aghdashloo, who after starred in Kiarostami’s report and handed an Oscar nomination for House of Sand and Fog), the Lady is engaged from several human vultures due to the great fortune she received her mother. The Leader of these robberies is the imposing Hadji Amoo (Mohammad-Ali Keshavarz, the Star of Kiarostami’s “Through the Olive Trees”), the stepfather of the Lady who has to action with other male lovers.
The world described”the failures of the wind” is a typical hierarchy of sclerotic monarchies, layered like a layered cake. In the center are the officially sent aristocrats, Lady Aghdas’ Circle, including a group of ladies who look like exotic birds with big eyes Sitting on a branch in a Zoo. Among them there are people — mostly men — who are trying to improve their social status by any means necessary; these are the lost, engaged, misplaced prototypes of many petty-bourgeois climbers. At the bottom of the ladder are waiters, musicians and workers. Throughout the film, we repeatedly see a group of women washers washing vegetables in a fountain in front of the mansion and commenting on life in their world in the Greek Choral style; they are as problematic as their nominal best, for various reasons only.
These scenes of the washers are symmetrical compositions, filmed in continuous static shots of medium distance, with the facade of the mansion in the background. When we are in the Villa, a similar visual strategy is applied. The camera of Aslani gives a direction on the spacious entrance hall of the mansion with its double stairs. However, since these recurring symbolic compositions are due to traditional Persian painting, they also serve an ingenious filmy purpose, as they match and match the chosen camera movements that assume Alsani’s admitted admiration for Max Ophüls.
Visually, the Film from the first frame to the last is a sumptuous feast. Inspired by Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon”, Houshang Baharlou’s color-nuance cinematography renders the luxurious interiors of the upper floors of the mansion exclusive by candlelight or natural light; here the shades of polished wood, brown walls and expensive fabrics dominate. No less important in the drama is the basement of the house, the cave of crimes and secrets, painted in hellish shades of red, purple and black. In all of these settings, Alsani uses the device – suggesting a fault on Bresson-to focus precisely on different objects such as weapons, beads, or glasses as they are handled by people. The technique that seems to give the inanimate its own spiritual strength follows the materiality of the forces that animate this family disaster.
“Chess of the Wind”, which meditates on a society where traditional spiritual and social values are supplanted by caustic materialism, was born from a remarkable discovery of film, 1969-79, known as the Iranian new wave (a term sometimes mistakenly used to describe the new Iranian film). As shown by Aslani’s relationship with Luchino Visconti and other Western films, Iranian authors of that time were very aware of the most demanding currents of world film, even if they are striving to develop their own individual and distinctive Persian languages. Despite the brilliance of their work, they are still too little known outside Iran. Perhaps the surprising appearance of “Chess of the Wind” can lead to the rediscovery of an entire epoch of little-known masterpieces.