Welcome to the fourth episode of the Hello Cinema podcast, where we are joined by Corey Atad, film critic and columnist at Pajiba. More than a year ago, a conversation between Corey and Amir about Sohrab Shahid Saless’s Still Life (Tabiat-e Bi Jaan, 1974) sparked the idea for this podcast series, so it was natural to invite Corey on the show to talk about this unheralded gem. Saless only made two feature-length films in Iran—Still Life and A Simple Event (Yek Ettefagh-e Saadeh, 1973)—before going to Germany, where he made several films for German television. However, the influence of his two first features on Iranian cinema, particularly for Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, is monumental.
Still Life tells the story of an elderly couple living in rural Iran around 1960. Their extremely modest existence is tested when the husband receives a letter notifying him of his immediate retirement. At once a masterwork of serene realism reminiscent of the works of Paul Cézanne and Yasujiro Ozu, and heavily influenced by the poetry of Sohrab Sepehri, Still Life is widely regarded as one of the best Iranian films of all time, but remains curiously little seen. Fortunately for our viewers, it’s actually available on YouTube with English subtitles. Additionally, with the news that a 35mm copy of the film has been touring film festivals around the world for the past year, we thought it was as a good as any to shine a light on Saless’s masterpiece, its connections to Iranian modernist poetry, its unique brand of realism and humor, and the sociopolitical picture it paints of village life in Iran before the Islamic revolution.
Sohrab Shahid Saless 3:27-11:15
A Simple Event 11:16- 13:50
Still Life: Existentialism and Humour 13:51-24:25
Temporal and Spatial Absurdity 24:25-31:36
Sohrab Sepehri’s Poetry and Translucent Reality 31:36-39:50
An Old Man in a New World 39:51-42:43
Threading a Needle 42:44-46:00
Hamid Dabashi’s Masters and Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema (amazon)
Review by Tina (Spectrum Culture)
Music: “Sonatine” by Maziar Heidari
Films by Sohrab Shahid Saless:
Still Life (Tabiat-e Bi Jaan, 1974) (imdb, youtube– with English subtitles)
A Simple Event (Yek Ettefagh-e Saadeh, 1973) (imdb)