Poetic Trilogy: The Gardener
directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
MVD / Arrow
I was lucky enough to receive one of the three films in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Poetic Trilogy. Makhmalbaf is Iranian, and has won multiple awards world-wide, yet is relatively unknown to American audiences. That’s a shame, what I see in this film is a gorgeous and heartwarming films that looks into the heart of Baha’i Faith, a religion that seems to collect enemies without effort. The film is shot in Israel in the sort of blindingly detailed high res, fully saturated color digital process that is only now just getting out to the super hero genera and into the world of art film. Both Makhmalbaf and his son Maysam shoot film; there’s a bit of tension between what dad thinks is important and what his son focuses on cinematically. Both viewpoints have a place and the coupling brings a deeper insight into the film-making process.
We are in a glorious garden somewhere in Israel. Men lovingly tend this plot of land we might call monks, although their relation to the garden is open ended. They gently pull weeds, move stones and revive flowers, and he result is an amazing landscape of color and form, My impression is they do it not for money, but love of their faith, and we are dabbling what those beliefs are. The relation between father and son is gruff but loving, dad realized his boy needs to find his own world, and son recognized dads generous and roots to the past. There are no traces of politics here beyond some simple factual history, and as a documentary, it excels in its artistic vision and cinematography. I’m hoping the other two elements of this trilogy show up in my mail box, or at least some other films form this middle eastern film genius. We may be at odds with Iran, but that shouldn’t blind us to the art they have produced for centuries.