José Arroyo and Richard Layne on The Deer/ Gavaznha (Masoud Kimiai, 1974)

 

 

We continue with our exploration of the Iranian Cinema on offer at the Wales One World festival with a discussion of the extraordinary The Deer/ Gavaznha (1974), a metaphor for pre-revolutionary Iran’s social relations, focussing on down and outs living in a courtyard with a heroin addict and a bank robber as heroes. The influence of Italian neo-realism is everywhere present in a film that is simultaneously symbolic but also pulpy and visceral. It’s an iconic film extra-textually as well: a cinema showing the film was burned down killing hundreds of people. It’s a film that is still banned in Iran. Behrouz Vossoughi gives an extraordinary performance.

Thanks to a friend, Richard and I have also been able to see the film’s original ending where Ghodrat (Faramarz Gharibian) believes Seyed (Behrooz Vousoughi) has betrayed him and shoots him. As Seyed is on his knees he explains that friendship comes before anything and Ghodrat , visibly moved, gives himself up to the police. The film ends with the promise of the two friends re-uniting at the end of the prison term with the promise of healing and solidarity in the aftermath of the current situation. It’s very moving.

A ban robber tries to convince a heroin addict to change

A life imprisoned. Setting doves free will be a metaphor. In the meantime, it’s all barbed wire.

When people are seen as sheep but also as ranking below them to the extent their homes are turned over to animals

The courtyard

Is it a queen who’s long hair gets shaved in prison?

 

Ehsan Khoshbakht, the director of Filmfarsi, wrote us a quick note to pick up on some of the points discussed in the podcast on The Deer:

‘The Deer is a black & white film and the colour version on YouTube is ….(an) unauthorised digital colorization. Colour films were very rare in Iran, even as late as mid-70s.
‘Another point that I wanted to raise is that with the exception of the opening dialogues added to the film in post-production (which you read in bracketed subtitles), this was the most complete version of the film which I telecined from Kimiai’s own battered print — the only way I could show it in the west. So this was the uncensored version, but since I didn’t have access to the separate audio track of the film, I couldn’t remove those forced lines and the best approach was to present them in brackets’.
Many thanks to Ehsan Khoshbakht for his film, for helping the The Deer circulate, and for answering some of the questions we posed in the podcast.
Those of you who want to follow a more extended discussion on Iranian genre  cinema in general and The Deer in particular can do so in this fascinating conversation  between Kaveh Askari and Ehsan Khoshbakht
here:

Ehsan makes an interesting comparison of it with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, particularly the ending

José Arroyo

 

 

 

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