Movie making has got difficult prepositions in
Bashehaye Aseman (Children of Heaven) by Majid Majidi is one such landmark movie in Iranian Cinema. “Children of Heaven” was awarded Oscar for Best Foreign Language movie in 1998.
Ali and Zahra are brothers and sisters of a poor Iranian family. Their father works in a mosque by serving tea to people and their mother had some surgery which made her ill. Both Ali and Zahra help their mother in household activities and both goes to school. Movie begins with Ali getting shoes repaired for younger sister Zahra. But, eventually he lost those repaired shoes at a vegetable shop. It was taken by a sweeper unknowingly along with other garbage of the store. Ali did his best to find them, but failed. Zahra was disappointed to know her shoes are lost. Ali pleaded him not to tell this incident to their father. He was not afraid of being beaten up; rather he was concerned about the misery their family is already into because of their mother’s illness, unpaid house rent and low income of their father to support them.
Ali worked out a solution to this problem. Zahra had morning school and Ali had Afternoon school. Ali offered Zahra, to wear his sneakers for school and handover it to him soon after her school to Ali so that he can go school with those pair of sneakers. So the movie is all about the series of beautiful instances revolving around their relay race life of handing over sneakers in afternoon somewhere on the way, which was at the epicenter of their house and their respective schools. In the climax, there was a 4 Km race in town among students of Ali’s age group from various schools in the town. Ali wanted to participate so that he can win third prize of the race. Third prize was a pair of sneakers. Ali’s relay race life made him qualify for the race. Ali appeared in the race. He ran fast enough to secure a marginal lead. Gradually he slowed down to allow two others overtake him. But eventually, many other kids also came in close proximity. Now Ali had 4-5 kids with him in close, and end line was also approaching near. Ali pulled with all his energy and emerged winner of a fiercely competitive race. The win led to a disappointment to Ali, as he wanted to be third in the race not first. A fabulous prize for the winner was not attractive as those pair of sneakers. The movie ends with those available pair of sneakers badly torn and Ali and Zahra’s problem unresolved. Some versions of this movie have got an epilogue, mentioning Ali in his later life achieved heights of success as a sprinter.
Expressions of Ali and Zahra in the movie indeed come from heaven. Ali a 9 year intelligent boy has shy, thoughtful and fearsome expressions. Zahra is a cute 8 years old girl with ‘lovely frowns of anger’ and ‘cute smiles of happiness in disgust’.
‘Children of Heaven’ has got many beautiful instances. Like in presence of their father in room, they had a chat through writings on notebook, in which Ali convinced Zahra not to tell their parents about her lost shoes. And Ali gave Zahra his new pencil to make her pleased. Defining moments of the movie are the relay race of shoe handover, where Zahra runs after her school to meet Ali for shoe handover; so that Ali can reach his school in time with sneakers on. However, one reason or other never allowed Ali to reach school on time and he was always in trouble because of that. Once Zahra got sneakers fell in the fast moving drain stream, because shoes were one size big for her and usually came off her feet. Zahra ran along the stream to catch off the fallen shoe.
One her first day with Ali’s sneakers on Zahra felt very shy and awkward. Because those sneakers were big, dirty as well as not at all girly. But, in a sports class she felt proud of wearing sneakers, as it was then advised by sports teacher that sneakers are good for jumping. A beautiful smile of Zahra described above description. That’s what a thoughtful direction compliments the delight of story telling. Ali and Zahra had an emotional divinity with pleasure and delight in one scene when they together washed those pair of sneakers.
In the course of movie, Zahra discovered her lost shoe was used by another girl Zoya in her school. She followed Zoya one day to find where she lived. Another day Ali and Zahra went together to her place. They discovered Zoya’s life was more in misery than theirs. They returned without asking for her shoes. That is why Ali and Zahra are children of heaven. Zoya, without knowing that she had Zahra’s shoes, got a good friendship with Zahra. She was also an honest girl, as she returned an expensive pen of Zahra to her, which she saw fallen once Zahra as usual was rushing to Ali after school. Ali got that expensive pen as a prize from his teacher for doing well in studies, which he presented to Zahra to let her pleased and not let their parents know about the lost shoes.
“Children of heaven” is a treat to watch. Movie is available on Google videos at below links.
official website of movie: http://www.cinemajidi.com/children/