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(aka "The Day I Became a Woman" or "Roozi ke zan shodam" or "Der Tag an dem ich zur Frau wurde" or "Le jour ou je suis devenue femme" or "Ti mera pou egina gynaika" )

 

directed by Marzieh Makhmalbaf
Iran 2000

 

"The Day I Became a Woman" links together three stories from Iran--the three ages of women--involving a girl on the edge of adolescence, a wife determined not to be ruled by her husband and a wealthy widow who declares, "Whatever I never had, I will buy for myself now." All three of the stories are told in direct and simple terms. They're so lacking in the psychological clutter of Western movies that at first we think they must be fables or allegories. And so they may be, but they are also perfectly plausible. Few things on the screen could not occur in everyday life. It is just that we're not used to seeing so much of the rest of everyday life left out....

"The Day I Became a Woman" is still more evidence of how healthy and alive the Iranian cinema is, even in a society we think of as closed. It was directed by Marzieh Meshkini, and produced and written by her husband, Mohsen Makhmalbaf (whose own "Gabbeh," from 1996, found a story in the tapestry of a rug). It is a filmmaking family. Their daughter Samira directed "The Apple" in 1998, and last year her "Blackboards" was an official selection at Cannes (not bad for a 20-year-old). Unlike the heroines of this film, the women of the Makhmalbaf family can think about the day they became directors. In fact, Iranian women have a good deal more personal freedom than the women of many other Islamic countries; the most dramatic contrast is with Afghanistan.

One of the strengths of this film is that it never pauses to explain, and the characters never have speeches to defend or justify themselves (the wife in the middle story just pedals harder). The little girl will miss her playmate, but trusts her mother and grandmother that she must, as they have, modestly shield herself from men who are not family members. Only the old grandmother, triumphantly heading her procession, seems free of the system--although she, too, has a habit of pulling her shawl forward over her head, long after any man could be seduced by her beauty; the gesture is like a reminder to herself that she is a woman and must play by the rules.

Excerpt of review from Roger Ebert located HERE

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Theatrical Release: March 8th, 2001

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye (Spine # 220) - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:14:03
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.38 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 Farsi (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Production Notes
• Filmographies

DVD Release Date: June 24th, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 13

 

Comments

In continuing with my recent string of blind-buy Artificial Eye reviews, we'll now take a look at the now unfortunately out of print "How I Became a Woman". The film itself is an interesting, if not always successful, experiment that examines the lives of three women of different generations in Iran. While each segment in the film works as a different genre (family-centered realism, drama, and comedy in that order) and gives us a genuinely harrowing view of the limitations placed on women in Iran, I'm afraid that I find myself mostly in agreement with Jonathon Rosenbaum's assessment of the film when he says that each segment made its point effectively early on and could have been pared down into a more efficient series of shorts. Instead, what we have is interesting, and, while I wouldn't call it great, is good enough to merit viewing.

While the film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 in anamorphic widescreen and the colors seem about right with realistic looking flesh tones, the visuals still left a good deal to be desired. The image is very soft and details are consequently muddled. The lack of detail is particularly noticeable with objects in the background of the frame and are clearly in focus and ought to be clearer on standard DVD. To compound the matter there are a surprising number of scratches and dust marks on the print. They aren't too plentiful or distracting, but for a release of a film that was slightly over a year old at the time, one wouldn't expect much of any.

The sound here is pretty good for Dolby Digital 2.0. I found no evidence of boosting, other artificial manipulation, or distracting background noises (pops, hisses, etc.). The dialogue, sound effects, and music are always adequately clear and the removable English only subtitles are unobtrusive.

The extras are the standard fare for Artificial Eye: production notes and a biography/filmography. There's nothing really remarkable here, but the production notes do provide some insight into the film.

While I was rather lukewarm with this release, it's portrayal of the hardships and sacrifices of women in contemporary Iran is nevertheless quite important. If you can find it at a decent price (the same goes for its in print region 1 release found HERE then I would recommend picking it up.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

 

 




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