Reviews

'The Cycle', A Classic Iranian Film, Remains Sadly Relevant

This film is credited with having helped to launch Iranian New Wave cinema, with director Dariush Mehrjui as one of the leaders in the movement.


The Cycle

Director: Dariush Mehrjui
Cast: Saeed Kangarani, Ezzatolah Entezami, Esmail Mohammadi, Ali Nassirian
Distributor: Nima
Rated: Not rated
Release date: 2011-07-26

Taking its title form a line by Medieval Persian poet Hafiz (“Because of the cycle of the universe, my heart is bleeding), The Cycle tells the story of a young man (Ali, played by Saeed Kangarani) who comes from the Iranian countryside into Tehran with his ailing father (Esmail Mohammadi). Ali and his father quickly discover that they cannot afford medical treatment but are encouraged by a local doctor (Ezzatolah Entezami) to donate blood, illegally, in exchange for cash.

Ali cannot resist the temptations that come with his new life and when he meets another doctor who wants to establish a safer blood bank, Ali does his best to derail these plans. Along the way, he falls in love and watches his father––a source of comfort and a terrific burden––die.

The film, directed by Dariush Mehrjui, is credited with having helped to launch Iranian New Wave cinema, with Mehrjui credited as one of the leaders in the movement. The Iranian New Wave sought to establish a more discriminating viewer, create more realistically minded films, and commingle elements of traditional Iranian culture with elements of European cinema.

Mehrjui began making films in 1966 with Diamond 33 and continues to direct to this day. Inspired by the political climate of Iran in the mid-1970s Mehrjui sought to capture the corruption and abject poverty of his country with The Cycle, a task in which he fully succeeds.

Embroiled with accusations of corruption and catering to Western influence, the Shah’s reign of Iran lasted until early 1979; for much of that time, The Cycle, which is openly critical of the nation and its station during the era, was banned. Despite this controversy––or perhaps because of it––the film became a major feature at international film festivals.

Without knowledge of the era, finding the nuances in the film’s narrative are difficult but the story, universal in its way, and the acting, especially the fine performance from Kangarani, buoy the viewer through those difficult passages. What’s especially moving is the apparent beauty of a country that served as the backdrop for brutality and corruption and the fashion in which its people suffered in those times. Moreover, Mehrjui’s humor and his focus on a rebellious youth transcend concerns of time and place.

An ardent supporter of the revolution in Iran, Mehrjui continued to make films even during times of government scrutiny that came after the departure of the Shah and the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini. Now in his early 70s, the director has also adapted Western texts for the screen, including works by Ibsen and Salinger. Mehrjui’s most recent film is Aseman-e Mahboob.

The extras for this DVD release include a director biography and photo gallery that may seem a bit paltry, given the apparent importance of the film. Nevertheless this serves as a fine introduction to Iranian cinema. The story The Cycle tells, remains sadly, relevant today. Film such as this are almost always worth rediscovering not only for their historic value but also for the ways they remind us how important art is.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Texas Gentlemen Share the Powerful and Soulful "Last Call" (premiere)

Eclectic Texas band, the Texas Gentlemen return with a vibrant, imaginative LP that resists musical boundaries. Hear their latest epic single, "Last Call".

Music

Vincent Cross Pays Tribute to Folk Hero via "King Corcoran" (premiere)

Gangs of New York-era James "The Rooster" Corcoran was described as the terror of New York's east side. His descendent, Vincent Cross, retells his story with a "modern dark fairy tale".

Music

Eddy Lee Ryder Gets Lonely and Defiant with "Expected to Fly" (premiere)

Eddy Lee Ryder explores the loss of friendship and refusal to come of age, cloaked in the deeply dramatic and powerful song, "Expected to Fly".

Playlists

Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.

Film

Creative Disruption in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Portrait of a Lady on Fire yearns to burn tyrannical gendered tradition to ash and remake it into something collaborative and egalitarian.

Music

Fave Five: The Naked and Famous

Following two members leaving the group in 2018, synthpop mavens the Naked and Famous are down to a duo for the first time ever and discuss the records they turned to help make their aptly-named fourth record, Recover.

Evan Sawdey
Books

Fleetwood Dissects the European Mindset in His Moody, Disturbing Thriller, 'A Young Fair God'

Hugh Fleetwood's difficult though absorbing A Young Fair God offers readers a look into the age-old world views that have established and perpetuated cultural rank and the social attitudes that continue to divide us wherever we may reside in the world.

Music

Art Feynman Creates Refreshing Worldbeat Pop on 'Half Price at 3:30'

On Half Price at 3:30, Art Feynman again proves himself adept at building colorful worlds from unexpected and well-placed aural flourishes.

Music

The Beths Are Sharp As Ever on 'Jump Rope Gazers'

New Zealand power-poppers the Beths return with a sophomore album that makes even the most senior indie-rock acts feel rudimentary by comparison.

Music

Jessie Ware Returns to Form on 'What's Your Pleasure'

On What's Your Pleasure, Jessie Ware returns to where it all began, the dance floor.

Music

The Jayhawks Offer Us Some 'XOXO'

The Jayhawks offer 12-plus songs on XOXO to help listeners who may be alone and scared by reminding us that we are all alone together.

Music

Steve McDonald Remembers the Earliest Days of Redd Kross

Steve McDonald talks about the year that produced the first Redd Kross EP, an early eighth-grade graduation show with a then-unknown Black Flag, and a punk scene that welcomed and defined him.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.