(aka "At Five in the Afternoon" or Panj é asr" or "À cinq heures de l'après-midi")

 

directed by Samira Makhmalbaf
Iran 2003

 

In her third feature, Iranian film maker Samira Makhmalbaf depicts the struggles of an Afghani woman, who under the new freedom, following the fall of the Taliban, tries to redefine herself as a woman. Opposing her fundamentalist father, who wants her to get a traditional religious education, she skips classes and goes to new school for girls. When addressed with the question, how many of the girls would want to become the first woman president of Afghanistan, she, along with two other students, expresses the desire.

In her redefining herself as woman, Noqreh, not only goes against traditional rules for courting, by forming a friendship with a man, but directly defies society by wearing a pair of white shoes.

Contra to this stands a country marked by death, starvation and poverty, which is overrun by former refugees coming from Pakistan. Searching for her sisters lost husband and escaping the blasphemy, they follow their father across Afghanistan. At the end, their journey ends in the desert. At five in the afternoon comes death. So begins the film, quoting Spanish poet Lorca, so ends the film, with the father burring his dead grandson, thus transposing the elegy of Lorca onto situation in Afghanistan: “The rest was death, and death alone at five in the afternoon.”

Awarded with the Jury prize at Cannes, this is not only the most ambitious film by Samira Makhmalbaf, but also her most mature work. Still co-written by her father, Mohsen, there is a sense of awareness and determination in both story and cinematography. There is a sensation of being proud of being a woman, as the film spends a lot of time with her gaze and her shoes. As such, Noqreh represents a new generation, that opposes, to a degree defies, the former generation and its traditions: Not only by wearing her shoes, but she lets her picture being taken and displayed public.

The film also is critical towards the “liberation” of Afghanistan. While the Taliban has fallen, democracy is but a fantasy, as the country is without infrastructure and basic needs as food and water. Makhmalbaf even satires the situation thru a French soldier, who has huge problems communicating with Noqreh and who states, that he is here for the good of the country, thereby suggesting the military actions and presence by the west towards a democratic society as naïve and pointless, which she underlines in an interview by suggesting a parallel between the current situation and Rambo: “Democracy, contrary to the claims of mass media, is not a project to be created overnight by military action or a change of regime.”

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 16, 2003 (Cannes Film Festival)

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:41:26 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.6 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Farsi, Khurdish and Afrikaans
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Making of featurette (13:20) with English subtitles
• Interview with Samira Makhmalbaf (37:51)
• Trailer (1:34)
• Filmography

DVD Release Date: August 23, 2004
Keep case

Chapters 12
 

Comments There is nothing much to be said about the presentation of the film. The colours are natural and the picture is of usual standard as by AE.

The additional material consists of an interview, which suffers from Samira Makhmalbaf speaking English. She obviously has a hard time expressing herself and it would have been more elaborating and better, if she had used her native language. It is still a nice interview, which manages to give us an insight in her approach to cinema and the text of the film.

A little gem is the “making of” documentary, which is made by her little sister Hara. I really isn’t much of a documentary, more just a recording of Samira directing, but it shows how deep cinema is imbedded in the Makhmalbaf family.
 

 - Henrik Sylow

 





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