A good movie’s window into Iranian life

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.


A Jewish Journalist’s Exclusive Look Inside Iran by Larry Cohler-Esses for the Jewish Daily Forward.  Via Spread an Idea (I think).

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.

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6 Responses to “A good movie’s window into Iranian life”

  1. socialinform Says:

    Hi Phil, thank you for this review and your great views. As an Iranian it makes me sad to see how often people forget that we are also human, and that they are evaluating us without having made more research than just looking over news headlines, and thus discuss how Iran should be bombed. Reading then your differentiated and educated views makes me very happy.

    I know also that it is our regimes fault that 77 Mio. Iranians are represented this way, when actually hospitality and friendship to all others no matter which nationality or faith is important to us.
    To fight this misrepresentation I want to share with you some posts I have collected about USA and Iran:
    http://theotheriran.com/category/usa/ (multiple posts – please scroll down, I put most of my effort into the 9/11 post)

    Also since this post is about a movie, I want to share with you my favorite Iranian movie: “Children of Heaven” it is a beautiful movie from the perspective of two children in a low-income Iranian family.
    It was also nominated for the Oscars.

    On my blog I have also a category on Cinema which also might be interesting for you.

    Thank you again for your great post!

    Best regards,


    • philebersole Says:

      Thank you for your generous comment and the link to your blog. There is no reason for either the American and Iranian governments or the American and Iranian peoples to be enemies.

      Here is the link to your 9/11 post, which I hope every reader of this post will look at.


      The great outpouring of sympathy for the victims of the 9/11 attacks gave the United Sttes a great opportunity to unite the world in a common effort to suppress terrorism.

      Instead Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others in Washington used it as a rationale to invade Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • philebersole Says:

      Here’s a link to a scene from “Children of Heaven”

      Liked by 1 person

      • socialinform Says:

        Phil, thank you very much for sharing the 9/11 post above and also for this scene from “Children of Heaven”, to everyone that does not know the movie this is just a glimpse the movie is really fantastic.

        These movies give a great insight into Iran and are quite critical. On my blog I am posting also quite surprising photos: http://theotheriran.com/tag/photos/

        Again, I am very happy that I found your blog. It gives me every time hope when I see people that are open minded and really invest time to learn about a distant country and try to see through all the fog. For Iranians it is much easier to learn about the great American people, because in the internet we can read your news, and we can watch your Satellite TV. So I appreciate even more that you use the media film to collect your own knowledge. I can also recommend everyone to take a look at travel reports, since travelers have no political motivation and are unbiased.
        There are a lot of great travel reports by Americans, Europeans about Iran.

        Thank you and keep up your great work! 🙂


  2. Holden Says:

    Hi Phil, How did you come across the movie (netflix, redbox, borrowed from a friend?)

    I want to give it a watch.


    • philebersole Says:

      I saw it in a movie theater in 2011 or 2012 when it first came out. The reason I post about it now is that I think about it every time I read about some politician or journalist who talks as if the Iranians were all bloodthirsty fanatics and not human beings like you and me.


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