“The Salesman” is a pre-bad (worse than bad) movie; a nugatory one. It neither sells anything nor buy. It is unable to sell and buy and incapable of dealing or discussing at all.
It’s a not-yet-made, confused and passive movie to which the action happens- from the outside-. It doesn’t have any sort of action of its own, let alone character. It’s a movie with no story, script, directing, camerawork, or editing.
The movie doesn’t even have an acceptable “what” due to a hollow script to which anything enters and from which anything exits. The script lacks many necessary things but contains lots of useless ones, instead. Of course, nothing has been aesthetically removed from the script, for nothing is there in the first place. Thus the writer doesn’t have anything at all to remove.
The movie is incomplete, unfinished and “open”. The director doesn’t know that an “open” phenomenon is not a phenomenon yet. It can be open only after it is able to be closed and after it is completely finished.
Our director, as if he knows that his “The Salesman” needs a lot of effort yet to be a movie, attends lots of interviews and attaches himself to his dumb movie. He pretends to be oppressed, spark controversy about himself, and soothe himself by making a “modern” pretension to be intellectual and relativist. Thus, he pleases himself for “causing the audience to have a mental challenge” and “that the audience is full of questions while coming out of the theatre is of worth” for him.
One should remind him that it is not worthy at all if the audience come out of the theatre being confused by lots of unanswered questions. It is not worthy at all if all of those questions are about the “what” of the story but not “how” it is told. it is not worthy at all if the origin of the questions is the audience not facing a specific and finished story by which he can reach the “how” and experience.
He (the director) has left us no other choice but to remind him that cinema is neither a horn nor a riddle. A work of art is a live experience, not a proposition or the answer to several questions. Art is not a statement, but the way of stating. The audience’s challenge with a good work of art is intuitive and emotional, then intellectual. The intellectual who doesn’t have the slightest idea of feelings, is one of the concept-oriented people who can never understand art.
The audience’s main question about this vague and passive movie is the following: “Is someone raped or just attacked?” In order to pretend that the movie is important, the director decisively says, in one of the interviews, that “no one is raped.” Nevertheless, the movie implies the opposite. Not in its mise en scène- which isn’t actually there-, but by two dialogs; one is of the wretched violator’s (“I was tempted.”) and the other one is of the doleful victim’s (“I wish I were dead.”). In another interview, with a hitchcockian sense of humor- which doesn’t fit him at all- the director mentions that he hasn’t been in the bathroom, so he doesn’t know what has happened.
What do these contradictory statements imply but the director’s inability and him being confused? How would the cheap drama of this impotent movie go on if the question “Is someone raped or just attacked?” had a specific answer? How long could the director hide himself behind the questions about “what” (story, theme, message) and take advantage of the nonexistent incident for winning the foreign award and not pay a red cent for the “how” which is the main thing in cinema- and art?
The audience’s reaction to the “what” is his reaction to the story. His reaction to the “how”, however, is the reaction to the art. The originality of a director’s work is neither related to the subject nor the story he picks; it is solely dependent on his manner of expressing the subject and how he presents the story. The manner is the thing that lets the artwork become our own experience.
The questions “Who is the seller; who is the client?” and “Who is the rapist; who is the raped?” is totally irrelevant to this unproductive movie. To the director, the seller and the client are the same and so are the rapist and the raped. Everybody is right- relatively. In fact, nobody is right- relatively still- except for our relativist director. To these modern-like, benighted ones, Relativism is thinking relatively and feeling relatively. Therefore, they neither think nor feel since both thinking and feeling are absolute.
If “The Salesman” is selling billions, it is not due to the contemptible movie; it is because of the foreign award, the raping theme, the popular main actors, and its pretension to be anti-violence. Since the movie lacks personality, it is not even worth it to speak about being honorable or not and being betrayer or not.
Let us go to the movie and some important sequences of its.
First of all, the bathroom sequence: Since some censors are arguing about their play, Emad will come back home later than usual and it leads to her wife being attacked by a perpetrator. So: Down with censors and the censorship. However, the question is what on earth would Emad do, according to his passive character, if he wasn’t detained by the censors? What would happen to the “turning point” of the story? How would the film progress? So: Viva censors and the censorship?
Let’s go back the scene: Rana speaks with Emad on the phone and tells him to buy some groceries. She is going to take a bath and when she hangs up, she takes a towel to go to the bathroom as the doorbell rings. She opens the door of the building and then that of the apartment.
A few questions about the “what” of the story: Why would Rana, who has recently moved to this new apartment and doesn’t know the neighborhood and the neighbors well, take no precaution?
Answer: She probably thinks her husband has arrived.
So, why doesn’t she wait for him to come upstairs and say hello- not more- to him before going for the bath? Is it not an obvious sign of the minimum of life and relationship between the couple?
The next question: Has she not just hung up? How much time has passed after hanging up and before the doorbell? No cinematic action- not even in editing- is taken in order to represent time passing. This “artistic” movie doesn’t understand time; neither the real time nor the dramatic time.
In this part of the sequence, the hand-held camera comes to a halt- the only good halt in the film- when shooting the door. This good halt, however, is wasted very soon and destroys the feeling of tension which has been just started to form: it quickly cuts to Emad in the supermarket.
The scene of the violator entering the apartment and the scene of raping- or attacking- are left out. Are they censored or not shot due to the fear of censorship? Neither. These kinds of exclusions are, nowadays, the director’s style- I’m afraid I have to use the word style- and he cannot help them anymore; they invade him.
The salesman or the client, whose illness will be found out later, enters the apartment. Owing to his old age, he probably doesn’t understand- or does he? - any changes in the furniture and décor. He hears the water- or does he not? –. He goes to the bedroom. He takes off his socks. Pay attention! These socks are so important. Don’t they remind you of Desdemona’s handkerchief in Othello? – I truly apologize the great Shakespeare and his fans-. The more we go on, the more “complicated” the “story” gets: now we don’t know if he folds the socks or not (!) It’s of importance. If he folds them, it means …; if he doesn’t, it means …; if he leaves them on the floor, it means … . What if he puts them on the bed? We leave answers to these questions for the interpretation lovers who are meaning-searchers or hermeneutics enthusiasts. Eureka, by the way! There is a pair of socks in “Death of a Salesman” play, too. So we found the relationship between the film and the play which is being rehearsed- or performed? – during the movie; the director has put some “signs” for us and . . .
Stop it! Why are you joking? It’s a solemn and serious movie. It has won the Cannes award for the best screenplay, after all. So it must be full of details- details for details- and signs.
Let’s go back to the scene: The client- or the salesman? – puts some money on the shelf as always. This “sign” must be so important to our sign-lover director because he is going to use it later- at the dinner table. The client goes to the living room and puts his keys and cellphone on the table. Another theory (!) is that the money comes after the key and the cellphone. We don’t really know which one is correct; we, like the director, haven’t been there.
Just one more question: Does the old man take off his clothes?
Shame on you! It is obvious that he is dressed when he goes to the bathroom because after “being tempted” and taking the woman’s hair- excuse us if the description is erotic. It is not our fault; it is the dialogs of the film’s- he is struggled with and has no choice but to flee. Does he have not heart disease? What would happen to the socks? Let the keys and cellphone be left; the director needs them later.
Why are you focusing on the “what”? It is a free imagination film. The director is joking with us.
Fine. Can we joke with him, too? Won’t he get angry? Won’t he go to the minister and his assistant- who has congratulated him on the foreign award- and complain about us?
No, he definitely won’t; he can tolerate joking. What about criticism? We don’t know yet.
Let’s go back to the film once again: as she sees- or does she? – the violator in the bathroom, the woman probably slams into a supposed glass and she probably falls to the ground, covered in blood. You should guess the rest as you have been doing so thus far.
Such was this important key scene which is the basis of the whole film.
Why wasn’t it really possible to make this scene? Wasn’t it possible for us to see the old man and what he does before going into the bathroom? Then the camera could remain behind the door or an opaque glass and let us hear the noise and screams and then see the old man fleeing, couldn’t it?
what would happen, then, to the ending shock of the film and Emad finding the violator at last?
No one would be shocked at the end, but we would precede Emad. Thus “what” would be solved and we would be ready to deal with “how”, instead. In that case, suspense would replace the shock. Not everyone, of course, can create suspense which is the quiddity of cinema and the essence of drama.
After the bathroom scene, the old man makes his successful escape while his foot is bleeding. The neighbor who is probably older than the violator runs after him but is not able to catch him. By the way, why wouldn’t the neighbors call the police when they see the bloody stairs? Is it normal to them? Maybe our famous director has asked them not to call so that his film would continue without any interference.
While her head is misleadingly bandaged, Rana returns to the stage the day after the incident because she is so “dedicated” to her job. She is only afraid of the bathroom in her house and at most one of the audience’s look. Whose look? We don’t understand. When she speaks of the “look”, is it not reasonable to show the face in a close-up shot, not a medium one? Maybe by doing so, the fact that nothing is serious, including Rana’s statement (“it hurts me to explain what happened.”), would be exposed. As we obviously see, at the end of the movie, when she faces the old violator, not only does she seem bothered, but she also pities him. After being attacked, we should have as a rule been able to observe her mental state and to understand how psychically she is affected. However, she only seems sorrowful and depressed as she has been, to some extent, since the beginning of the movie. It seems that the problem is physical- some wounds on the head and face- rather than mental and psychical. What has happened is not that important for her, and neither is for Emad and specially for the director. So, why should it be for us? Either there has been no such thing as raping- or attacking- in this movie, or it is “relative”. It is not, therefore, of great importance. Everything will be settled by an “apology” or “Excusez Moi”. The only important thing to the director is to condemn the violence and to condemn Emad for slapping the old man across the face.
How was the story of this movie formed? “It was formed intuitively,” The director answers, “and I found it in the emotional database of my subconscious.” Now, the question is: “What a subconscious is it whose emotional database is easily reachable?”
Does the “story” (?) of “The Salesman” really have its roots in the director’s subconscious? Has he experienced it once- with all of those omitted scenes-, then pushed it aside and sent it to his subconscious? Maybe he has just seen it, but, if so, how has it been sent to his subconscious?
Our director says that he had had one concept to begin with: “Privacy” and “Reputation”. Are they two concepts or one? You can obviously see that everything about subconscious and its emotional database is but a funny joke. Hasn’t our director understood the concept of Privacy voluntarily rather than intuitively? A more accurate question: Isn’t he just pretending to understand privacy?
The challenge of dealing with these two concepts are- relatively- obvious. Not in the movie, of course, but in the interviews with the director.
Let’s have a break before analyzing the last sequence- which contains all the “message” of the movie- and take a look to the prologue of the film.
The lights are out. Memento Film and Doha Film- which belongs to Emir of Qatar’s daughter- present. Some scenes of preparing a stage. The lights and the scaffolding are set. The plans are connected to each other by black fades. The neighbors’ voices and them knocking on doors are heard. After the credits, we see two beds; one on the stage and another one in the house. Both seem useless. Neither has a story. Maybe they are signs of impotence and the couple’s damaged marriage, but the director is not able to create these signs; he only sends us codes.
Apparently such a stage has been the source of the director’s image for this movie. “I had an image whose starting point was not clear for me,” says the director. “It was a lighted stage designed as a house . . .”
Did you understand how “The Salesman” has been formed? Is it not like having a button and sewing a coat for it?
The director gradually recalls Arthur Miller’s play which he apparently has read in college- or somebody has told him about it- because his social analysis of the play is so poor. He says, “The most significant aspect of the play is that it is criticizing a period of history. The period in which a sudden change in the civic U.S. caused one of the American social classes to be ruined. The people who were not able to get used to the change were destroyed. From this point of view, the play is so similar to the current conditions in my country.”
Really? What is the slightest similarity between the U.S. in that period and our Iran today? We are truly suffering from a newly epidemic of ignorant claims.
The similarity between Miller’s play and this movie is as the similarity between Fellini’s “The Road”- which is our director’s favorite movie- and, for instance, his “The Past”. I suggest that the audience should read the play before watching this movie. Please mention my suggestion in the brochures.
What do we really see of the play? Nothing except for the actors’ make-up, the actress (the prostitute in red) huffing, censors, and several long shots of some incoherent and irrelevant parts of the play that don’t lead us to understand any particular thing. The camera does not anything beyond recording and . . . lots of jump-cuts. Then there is Hosseini’s bad make-up and acting, plus Alidousti’s cold acting. Neither of them act differently in the play and in the movie.
Let’s have a brief look at how the theatre scenes are directed. Emad is dead and he is in his coffin: a medium shot. Cut to the single shots of Emad’s students. Cut to a long shot of the stage. Cut to a medium shot, from behind, of Rana crying. Cut to a medium shot, from the front, of Rana crying. Then another cut to a long shot of the stage. From whose point of view are these meaningless shots which are unable to make feeling for us? The theatre audiences’? The director’s? Or . . .
Converting a play to the cinema is not possible by using such a disordered camerawork like this. Jump-cut doesn’t automatically change a plan to “modern”. It seems that while the story of Emad and Rana is told for the general public, the theatre issue is there, according to the director, to target an “intellectual elite”.
The real cinema enthusiasts should watch Bergman’s small but profound movie, “After the Rehearsal”, to understand the relationship between the cinema and the theatre.
Now it’s time to go back to the first sequences of the movie- the building collapsing- and see how they are directed. Bewildered Emad comes out of the house and calls Rana’s name. The over shaky hand-held camera follows him on the stairway. Such camera- as if it is in a cradle- doesn’t let us watch the scene well and it get us not to focus on anything. It also diminishes the feeling of tension. As a rule, we should see Emad’s face and understand his emotions in such a critical situation. However, he is seen from behind for some minutes during this plan-sequence and the camera which should follow him outside of the house, remains in a room and shows the wall and the window cracking in a cartoon form. Then it goes to the window and looks down to see a steam shovel working. From whose point of view is this plan? James Stewart’s point of view in “Rear Window”? I ask our international director and his enchanted fans not to watch the Hitchcock’s movie, for they may learn POV plan and subjective camera.
Don’t worry. They prefer to watch “Prisoners” which can be “inspiring” for them. You cannot be “inspired” by Hitchcock. While “Prisoners” can give you shock at most, Hitchcock can teach you suspense. Now that I spoke about Hitchcock, it’s good to recommend everyone watch one of his profound short films, “Revenge”, whose theme is sexual abuse and revenge.
What happens to the house? Does it collapse?
Nope, it remains as it is; it is useful for the final sequence.
Is such a prologue, which is disordered and carelessly directed, the starting point of the story and a justification for moving to a new house? This building, which is on the verge of collapsing, is an interesting thing for the symbol-oriented critics. And so is Emad’s statement on the balcony, “I wish I could ruin this city by a steam shovel and rebuild it.” and also his friend’s reply, “They have done so once before- he means they have revolted once before- and the current city is the result.” Do these statements really fit these two people’s personalities- one passive and the other one dishonest-? It seems that the director has persuaded the characters to say such dialogs, doesn’t it? Are these things really called symbols? Not at all, for symbol has its roots in our subconscious and will touch the feelings.
Let’s have other examples of directing in this movie. Rana is hanging the curtain on the rod in the new house. The camera shows her from behind in a medium-long shot. Cut to a long shot from the outside of the house and then cut to the inside. What is the meaning of this shot changing? What feeling does seeing Rana from behind, among those two shots from inside and outside, convey to us? Is somebody outside of the house and these plans are, as in horror movies, from his point of view? What is the real problem? Directing? Editing? Both?
Another example: Rana and Emad are speaking in the backyard (Rana has come out because she is scared). We see each one of them in medium shots. When they stop speaking, we see them in a birds’ eye extreme-long shot. Such a contradiction between two medium shots of the two character and an extreme-long shot does nothing but interrupting the feeling in progress. Is the extreme-long shot plan supposed to make an eerie feeling for us? Does it mean that a third party is there, monitoring everything from up there? Neither? Apparently our director has recently watched Polanski’s “The Tenant”- which is a bad movie except for the ambience and the house- or Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners”.
Another example of the “powerful” directing and editing: dinner scene, a few days after the incident. Rana has made the food and they (Rana, Emad, and the child) are having dinner together. We see some over-shoulder shots of both woman and her husband. Owing to the child, the atmosphere is rather happy. They happen to speak about the money. Emad seemingly becomes upset. The way of directing and editing, however, goes on as before without any change in over-shoulder shots. Neither the shot angles- and their sizes- nor the decoupage represents any change in the feeling of the scene- from happiness to tension. The director is, as always, unable to make tension and provoke a crisis. Only Emad over acts for a few minutes and we see nothing more to create tension for us. The editor, as in the whole movie, does whatever he wants and is out of the director’s control. He continues to show us some shots of the attracted-to-macaroni child- who is the best actor of the movie- between the shots of the couple who should have gotten tensed up as a rule. Although after the money being spoken about the reasonable attitude for the editor was to omit the child and only focus on the couple, the current editing has changed the scene to an undesirable comedy. How the crisis scene is directed, reminds me of that of amateurish films. What about you?
Now let’s go the final sequence. After wasting a lot of time, Emad starts a detective game and follows the “signs” which is made for him by the director. All problems in the story are solved easily and quickly, thanks to the script writer/ director. The car is suddenly found at last, but it takes Emad a few days to find the owner. Emad is not idle during this time; he, with his raped/ attacked wife, goes for the rehearsal. He also keeps on teaching and the process of him “becoming a cow” is in progress until he ends up arguing with the school janitor while he is angry with the manager. He is so passive that is unable to face the manager. Instead, he makes the janitor throw away the books they have ordered for the students. Is he not a lettered man? Has he forgotten it? Or is passivity the dominant element of his personality?
From then on, the detective-like movie- not a social realistic one- changes into a melodramatic Film Farsi. After being bored for one hundred minutes, we finally see the protagonist- or the antagonist? - coming up the stairs of the ready to collapse house. After speaking with the old man, Emad finds out that he works overnight with the car and sometimes sells odds and ends. Is he the “salesman”, then? Have you found out how Miller’s play is connected to the movie? Are you satisfied enough? One of the many what’s of the film is understood, then, thanks to the director’s coding. Bravo!
The sequence in which Emad faces the old man should, as a rule, have been shocking and full of tension. However, it doesn’t convey any feeling because it is not a concern of the director’s. The director’s concern is another thing which I will mention later. Let’s see how the moment is performed: the old man is seeing Emad and we are seeing his (the old man’s) POV as a medium shot. The old man stands up; moves towards Emad and enters his own POV. It is seemingly necessary to mention that a POV shot is intrinsically subjective. If one enters his own POV, the shot turns objective which is totally meaningless. It is not possible for a shot to be both subjective and objective at the same time. There are a lot of such goofs- that are anti feeling- in the movie.
The rapist- the salesman- is and old working man who is suffering from a disease of the heart. These qualities automatically make us have sympathy and feel pity for him. The director has a positive attitude towards him, as well.
In the scene when the old man is putting off his shoes- and being exposed as the criminal- Emad is the dominant person. In this scene, we see some close-up shots of the old man’s feet that are all Emad’s point of view. These shots cut to a medium shot showing Emad from behind. Bravo! How profound the director’s technical knowledge is!
We feel even more pity for the old man when we see Edam locking him up in a room. The director keeps on supporting the old man until his family gets there.
Emad and Rana are standing a bit further from the family. We repeatedly see each one of them in a medium shot and the family members (the old man’s wife, daughter and son-in-law) in different kinds of shots. It is interesting that the shots showing Emad and Rana are sometimes the director’s point of view and sometimes the old man’s or his son-in-law’s. How the director introduces the family makes us feel even more pity for them- notably the old man himself. Emad is so angry. the old man is looking downwards and he is ready to cry. The wife and the daughter are crying and it enhances the movie’s Film Farsi quality.
Not seeing anything of the intrusion scene results in a passive antipathy towards the violator. However, seeing him being oppressed and pitiable leads the audience’s over-sentimental sympathy to be active. It’s because cinema is a visual medium- not a mental one- in which seeing is believing.
Finally, even Rana comes to the old man’s aid and tries to support him by threatening Emad that she would leave him unless he let the old man go. She even gives the old man his medicine compassionately. The old man faints again at last in order to make us sympathize with him even more. The camera, in this scene, is utterly supportive of him and his family. The scene cuts to a low-angle shot of Emad in order for us to find him guilty.
Our international director acts relatively. He sides with the old man and pretends that he is oppressed, but destroys his reputation in his family at the same time- relatively, of course, but not absolutely. The director ridicules the elderly woman for her loving her unfaithful husband, too. The director assaults not only Emad, but also the old man and his family and, what’s more, he is not respectful of the elderly people and their marriage at all. Is he not behaving disgracefully towards the elderly women who wear chador and also towards the typical Iranian mother?
The director’s concern in this over long “artistic”-Film Farsi- movie is to “criticize” violence. He says, “What you see in the movie is that we look for acceptable reasons for us to be violent. Then we will believe in those reasons and so we will cause a disaster because of our violence without being shamed.”
Is it not too humanistic to speak about this movie like this? Isn’t it an over relativistic statement about this movie? Violence, in “The Salesman”, is a single slap which is misleading and doesn’t really fit Emad’s passive personality. The director condemns the slap; tries to make the audience believe that the old man is oppressed; and so wins the Cannes award. At the same time, he takes advantage of the same slap to satisfy the Iranian audience and get them to applaud. Is it a positive and artistic intelligence or a negative one?
Why is the rapist not a young man, indeed? Because if he was young, no one would probably sympathize with him. What would happen to the director’s claim to be “anti-violence” and relativist, then?
It should be reminded that anger and violence are both human acts and them being right or wrong depends on how and when they are used. There are two kinds of violence: the outrageous and aggressive violence which is offensive and the defensive violence that must be taken advantage of to defend oneself and one’s motherland. The latter is not only allowed, but also essential. It is one of the basic qualifications for being a human and is a sign of caring about the honor of oneself, one’s family and one’s country. However, the director is seemingly against both kinds. It seems he doesn’t know yet how violent the first- and second- world people who has awarded him are, although they pretend to be humanists. He should only watch the news for a few days.
Our “anti-violence” director is ashamed and in order to renounce his third world own and win the award, he condemns his eastern- Iranian- defensive violence which he calls it “our current society’s violence”.
We remind him that whatever problem there is- and there is a lot- in our society is only of our own business and we must solve them by ourselves. I don’t mean that none of us are allowed to speak about problems and it is forbidden to show them. As a matter of fact, although he pretends to be anti-violence, our director is not able to even speak straightforwardly, let alone showing a part of his society. He can only send codes and generalize everything. What plays a crucial role in a movie is how you are telling something and whether you are seeing it from a national and humanity point of view. It is shameful taking advantage of a social problem to gain financial benefit and to be awarded.
Does the creator of “The Salesman”, who promotes such a chaotic ethics, do what he is prescribing himself? Does he himself believe in relative morality and does he feel pity for and sympathize with a rapist and condemn the victim? Does he really think that a rapist must be simply forgiven after a one-word apology?
The director has left out the scene before the last. Did the old man die or not? It is an apparently moral- but really Film Farsi- “what” with which the audience come out the theatre. There is no “how” and thus no film yet again. The last plan is essentially the beginning point of the story. What will happen to the couple and their relationship? Will they separate or not? The director doesn’t have the slightest idea; he keeps silent as if he is going to answer these questions in another movie.
“The Salesman” is, in fact, an illustrated weak screenplay which is too concept-oriented to reach a medium called cinema. There isn’t, at all, any characterization and atmosphere in it. The sequence of scenes totally lacks a reasonable rhythm and thus meaning. The shot sizes and angles are mostly irrelevant to what is happening. The camera is out of control and is not disciplined. Thus, it intrudes everywhere and tries to watch the same character, in a crucial condition, from many different places. Therefore, neither the director’s opinion about what is happening is understood nor how the character feels about it.
Repeatedly, the third person’s- who is it? - point of view intrudes in that of the characters’. If the people are well characterized in the story, there will be no need for the director to intervene; they act independently and they don’t need any guardians; they see and the director only shows us what they see. What happens in “The Salesman” is quite the contrary. The director constantly persuades all the characters to see everything from his own personal point of view.
The movie is suffering a lot from the editor who supposes that he has accelerated the movie’s boring rhythm. The director and the editor seemingly believe that the rhythm is mainly a question of editing, except they are wrong. The rhythm basically has its roots in the script, then editing. The editor of this movie utterly fails to produce something meaningful. It is as if he has only snipped and stuck the meaningless plans in order to make the audience have a coherent feeling. The result, however, is something that confuses the audience and mutilates his feeling.
Using lots of jump-cuts, notably in theatre scenes, neither accelerates the rhythm nor makes us forget that many critical plans are left out. We cannot, therefor, understand anything of the play they are performing, let alone its relation with the movie we are watching.
Our international director says that he has “discovered” how to use wide-angle lens and telephoto lens during the making of his third movie. Is it possible for him to be expected to discover how to use POV shots, jump-cuts and bird’s eye shots as well in the future? Shall we be optimists or not?
Reminding a couple of things seems essential at the end.
First, life is not relative. Any relative issue is actually absolute when it is generalized. There is no ethical, artistic, philosophical, and even scientific rule whose result is not absolute. Relative lies in absolute, and vice versa. They are two sides of the same contradiction. Nothing can be relative without being absolute. This very rule that everything is relative is an absolute statement, after all. It is not possible for a movie to be produced relatively except for “The Salesman”.
Second, the modern narrative- of which some people are taking advantage to be famous while they don’t understand it at all- does not mean that nothing but details is important or the details are more important than the totality. Details are meaningful only when the totality is considered and the totality is meaningless if the details are not considered. The totality is formed by details.
Third, it is not true that modern characters are gray- neither black nor white-, in contrast to classical characters. A character is essentially gray and full of contradictions. Both good and evil exist inside anyone and so does their struggle against each other. There are lots of contradictions in all creatures, human beings included. All those contradictions are unified and at odds with each other. Them being unified is temporary and the struggle in permanent. Movement is also an outcome of the contradiction.
Aren’t there many well characterized gray characters in many classical novels and movies? What kind of character is Shakespeare’s Hamlet? What about Ethan Edwards in John Ford’s “The Searcher” or many characters in Hitchcock’s movies? All of them are both classical and modern.
The modern-like relativists think of a gray character as fifty percent good and fifty percent bad. If so, what would happen to the protagonist and the antagonist? Are they fifty-fifty as well? Wouldn’t all the characters be characterless and useless in that case? How can you sympathize with these characterless characters who are neither good nor bad? Must all of the characters be equally sympathized with? That’s a joke. If a director’s belief in relativism is based on ignorance, his movie is neither a comedy nor a tragedy; it is probably an undesirable comedy.
Our director wants us to equally sympathize with all his characters- as if they are characterized- because all of them are relatively right. How can you sympathize with anybody when the director is not willing to be on anybody’s side? The result of such an attitude in a movie is that the audience doesn’t sympathize with anybody at all.
“The Salesman” is an ineffective and unformed movie which is also fairly exotic. It is a movie that pretends to be modern, whereas in actual fact it is traditional.
The last question: did Emad relatively slap the old man and did the director relatively condemn the slap with an “Excusez Moi” for the French and an “Excuse me”- in future- for the American?
Translated by: Seyyed Javad Yousefbeik