by Afra Nariman
Children of Heaven (1997)
Director: Majid Majidi
Stars: Reza Naji, Amir Farrokh Hashemian, Bahare Seddiqi
Recalling some of the storytelling vision of neorealist classic Bicycle Thieves, and in the vein of Cinema Paradiso’s approach to magical realism, Children of Heaven captures the innocence of childhood, but also the easily-felt fears that accompany that time in our lives. As is a staple within the work of Iranian filmmakers, Majid Majidi respects his child characters and consistently presents them as both capable and intelligent.
The film creates intimate emotions between characters that arise from simple occurrences and moral dilemmas, that from the perspective of children, carry more weight than most things do for grown-ups on an everyday basis. Emotions are felt at extremes. Tears are shed by characters for small moments of sadness, and smiles widened for the simplest of joys. Here, the smallest gestures speak the loudest. The film presents childhood as a time when everything is experienced fully in the present, and every moment carries all the weight in the world.
With this film, Majidi shows that kindness and empathy in everyday life ultimately maintains as the most powerful response we can have to all situations. Children of Heaven, in many ways ties this to the unspoken rules of childhood, as it is through this kindness and empathy that we see the children in the film approach their problems.
Most importantly perhaps, to varying degrees the film brings to light social realities such as familial dynamics, poverty, class differences, competition, and more, but it does so without limiting itself to being about only one of those things. Above all, Children of Heaven illustrates its humanism through its presentation of nuanced human interactions, primarily through the eyes of children, and conveys the importance of simply being kind when you can, no matter your circumstances nor the presumed moral weight of the moment.
MY RATING /5:
View this Review on Letterboxd: https://boxd.it/3cuRSd
Like and Follow on Letterboxd to see my other reviews, and for new ones regularly.