The 2011 Iranian movie “A Separation” is one of the best movies I ever saw. It is good in itself, and a good window into life in Iran.
There are at least two kinds of separation depicted in the movie. One is between husbands and wives. Another is between the educated middle class and the uneducated lower class.
It begins with a conflict between a educated woman, who wants to leave Iran, and a husband, who is unwilling to leave his sick father. The wife separates from the husband, and he hires an uneducated woman to look after his father while he is away at work.
The husband comes home one day and finds his father alone and unattended. The woman comes back, he flies into a rage, something happens outside camera range and she falls and has a miscarriage. It then is revealed that the woman got a job without the knowledge of her strict Muslim husband, who disapproves of women working outside the home.
Iran is a right-to-life country and an unborn life has the same value as anyone else’s. The educated woman’s husband is charged with murder. Two mysteries then need to be cleared up – what really happened off-camera to cause the miscarriage, and why the educated woman left her place of work.
One of the bonuses of watching the movie was the glimpse I had into everyday life in a country I never expect to visit.
In one scene, the elderly father falls in the bathtub, and his caregiver fears it would be a sin for her to see the naked body of a man not her husband. She picks up a phone and calls a hot line for advice. An expert on Muslim law tells her that her duty is to help the old man.
I wouldn’t want to live under Iran’s theocratic government. But given a choice, I would many times prefer to be a citizen of Iran than a citizen of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. And I would a thousand times rather live in Iran than in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia or any of the other countries subject to American military intervention.
When I read people advocating “taking out” Iran or “settling the Iranian problem for once and for all”, what they are advocating is the cold-blooded murder of people equivalent to the characters in this movie.
Israeli Defense Minister: ‘We Can In No Way Tolerate an Iran With Nuclear Weapons”, an interview of Moshe Yaalon by Ronan Bergman and Holgar Stark for Der Spiegel.