If you understand Persian, you MUST take 47 minutes out of your day this week to watch Abbas Kiarostami’s 1979 film, The Story of Take 1 and Take 2
This has just appeared on the internet in the past few days, and it is my belief that Kiarostami himself may have something to do with it, because it is so relevant to what is going on in Iran today.
There’s a teacher who has his back to the students, taking his time to draw the inner ear (for some sort of biology lesson) on the board.
Every time he turns his back to face the board, one of the students starts hitting the table. Finally, he asks all seven students sitting in the far back of the class to either stop coming to class for a week, or to hand over the culprit.
Then, the narrator asks that the people sitting in front of the camera shortly explain their opinion on what the students should do. Should they tell on their friend or not?
The camera speaks to all seven fathers. Those who are less financially able, all argue that they are working hard to provide for their son’s education, and he should tell on his friend and get back in the class.
Now there are two takes.
Take 1: on day two of their expulsion, one of the students suddenly enters the class, declares the culprit’s name, and sits back down.
Take 2: the students stay together and come back to class on the following Saturday.
What comes after, is a parade of some of Iran’s most influential figures in 1979 and their opinion about the conduct of this student in take 1, and the conduct of the group in take 2.
Kamal Kharazi (foreign minister under Khatami) – educational expert and executive director of the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. He believes the real problem lies in the action of the teacher and the student did not do the right thing by telling on his friend.
Bishop Ardok Manoukian – religious leader of Iranian Armenian community. He says that the children must preserve their unity.
Ehteram Boroumand– who for years was a host for children’s programs on Iranian TV. She too believes that the students should remain united.
The late unforgettable Nader Ebrahimi who is truly missed today- poet and author. He thinks the teacher is the real culprit and the students have done no wrong.
Renowned Iranian actor Ezatollah Entezami and the most humorous of the bunch. He believes the students should beat up the snitch.
Ali Mousavi Garmaroudi – poet. The teacher is laying the framework for a sick, corrupt environment and the students show that they are truly alive through their resistance.
Sadegh Ghotbzadeh – who is head of the Islamic Republic of Iran broadcasting at this time and who was executed in 1982. He believes that the students’ resistance is like the resistance of drug traffickers and is lethal.
Sadeqh Khalkhali (famed as “the butcher”) – religious magistrate of revolutionary courts. He believes that the teacher is “tarnishing the humanity” of the children and attempting to turn them into his own instruments. This is like forcing a confession and it is against Islamic values.
Noureddin Kianuri – general secretary of the central committee of the Iranian Toodeh Party and was semi-executed in prison. He thinks the children sticking together is only half the picture. They must show the teacher where he has gone wrong. This unity must have a result greater than just not telling on their friend.
Masoud Kimiyayi – Iranian director. If you’ve seen any of his movies, you’d know his answer: the kids did the right thing by sticking together. Absolutely.
Hedayatullah Matindaftari – lawyer, member of the executive committee of the National Democratic Front (and the grandson of Mohammad Mossadeq). The children are doing whatever they can to keep far from the “farhangh-e ariymehri“(monarchistic culture) which has been widespread for the past 25 years. The great objective of this culture was to cultivate spies and moles.
Rob David Shoft – religious leader of the Iranian Jewish community. This is unity is a unity in deceit and lying, and it is wrong. The truth must be told at any cost.
Jaleh Sarshar – director of educational affairs of the institute for children and young adults training and improvement (some sort of correction facility I guess). She absolutely insists that the children stay united.
Gholam Hossein Shokouh – minister of education. He too believes that the children should not abandon their friend and the leadership of the school should be looked at more observantly to find the real wrong.
Ebrahim Yazdi – foreign minister. He approves of the students resistance.
… and more!
What is interesting is the emphasis many commentators place on the “rampant corrupt culture of the past 25 years” which is really to blame for the student’s confession and the teacher’s reaction.
It’s exactly as if people were speaking today, just replace “past 25” with “past 30”.