An Afghan refugee in Iran, Nasim watches a friend performing a motorcycle act, but he is thinking about wife Noghre, laying gravely ill in the local hospital. The hospital asks for more money, but Nasim is unable to raise money from his work as a well-digger. He tries various schemes, including driving a truck of illegal immigrants and faking a suicide. Eventually, Nasim attracts the attention of a circus manager who recognizes him as the once Afghan champion of a three-day endurance bicycle marathon. Nasim accepts from him the challenge of a seven-day marathon. People gather to watch Nasim’s sufferings. Some gamble on his success or failure. For seven days, Nasim has to resist many attempts to exploit his exertion for their own purposes, from street vendors or fortune tellers to political agitators. Staying awake on the bicycle becomes an insurmountable ordeal…
One of the most popular and influential Iranian filmmakers of his era, Mohsen Makhmalbaf was born in Teheran on May 29, 1957. As a working-class teen, he became involved with a militant terrorist group battling against the Shah’s regime, and at the age of 17, he was sentenced to die after stabbing a policeman. Ultimately, his youth allowed him to escape the fate of a firing squad, and after serving only five years of his sentence, he was freed in the wake of the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution. After his release, Makhmalbaf helped establish an artists’ group known as the Islamic Propagation Organization, and he became a prolific writer of plays, essays, short stories, and finally screenplays.
His first filmed script was 1981’s The Explanation, and he directed his first feature, Nassouh’s Repentance, the following year. Throughout the remainder of the decade, he wrote and directed roughly one film a year, each wildly different in style and content. Among his other early works were… read more
The sequence with the intercutting of the taming of the horses with the beating of the Afghani man and later the parallel of the son beating the father on the bicycle are both examples of cinematic language at its best.