DOWNPOUR (Bahram Beyza’i, 1971) and the 70s International Style

From June 2013:


I saw this delightful Iranian movie last night at Montreal’s new Phi Cinema, as part of Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation restoration series. The house was packed! Beyza’i, I am told by Iranian friends, is the most Iranian of directors–more so than Shahid-Saless, Kiarostami, the Makhmalbafs, etc. Why that is remains unclear to me, at least at the level of visual style. The movie was a “new wave” film in classic “international” sense–self-referential and intertextual (even a score based on Hitchcock’s Psycho), subjective projections that blur the line between inner and outer worlds, and disjunctive cutting rhythms, plunging zooms, abrupt lens changes and symbolic inserts that remind me of Costa-Gavras’s Z. The movie is also highly melodramatic, about a school teacher who falls in love with the mother of one of his students. Apparently, stories of “outsiders” coming into town and changing lives were common in the period. It all ends with a gripping “will she or won’t she run after him” sequence. She doesn’t.

Whether these aspects of style and storytelling have more local sources is well worth looking into.