GABBEH (1996) [Feature]

Iran (MIFF 1996 , Contemporary World Cinema )
Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf


A

According to many observers (your humble servant and Werner Herzog amongst them), cinema is alive and well in two countries: China and Iran. Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh is incontrovertible proof of this claim and positions him beside countryman Abbas Kiarostani, at the frontline of world cinema Makhmalbaf's off-the-wall Once Upon a Time Onema screened at MIFF in 1993 and his last film, the very different but equally mesmerising Salaam Cinema, can be found elsewhere in this year's programme. Cabbed was amongst the three or four critical discoveries of Cannes this year, and he already has another in the can. This maybe his best to date, but either way, It's one of the most magical films we've seen in eons.

The title refers to both the central character, a tribal girl, and a rare type of hand-woven carpet, said to be the most original of its kind, a quality that could also be attributed to the girl. An old woman holds the secret of weaving the Gabbeh. her creative designs inspired by the life, history and legends of the nomads Gabbeh, the girl, has been thwarted in love due to family commitments, her would-be husband nothing more than a fleeting silhouette of a lone horseman on the horizon, an image curiously reflected in a rug the old woman is weaving. The plot manages to remain simple yet spellbinding and resonant.

Like the carpet for which it is named and in which its story is captured, Gabbeh is a ravish-ingly beautiful, hand-crafted artifact from another world (TB)

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