That’s my initial reaction after seeing the film. I want to describe my understanding of the film and see if other people agree. I also want to articulate the reasons the film isn’t really successful, or I’d like to hear reasons the film is successful.
Here’s my understanding of the film: Khorshid, the blind boy, frequently gets distracted by beautiful sounds—anything from music, an attractive sounding voice or even the sound of hammers pounding on metal. Anything can be beautiful or ugly to Khorshid and beauty draws Khorshid like a powerful magnet—so much so that he often arrives late to work, even though work is essential for him and his mother, who are on the verge of being evicted. Eventually, the Khorshid and his mom are evicted and Khorshid seems to turn to music—first by asking the musicians to play the “galloping horse,” and later when the pot makers become a symphony for him.
What does this all mean?
I’m wondering if the film is about artists, especially in contrast to the average, more practical-minded individual. Artists are irresistibly drawn to beauty or their art, despite negative consequences to their material well-being and the ones they love. What I liked was the way the film depicted this. Khorshid seems to be a caring person, but he can’t help himself. It’s not just a choice, but the way he sees and experiences the world; the way he lives his life. The film shows makes this clear by the way seemingly non-musical elements can become musical to him. (I wonder why Makhmalbaf chose music, instead of visual arts.) Everything can and does become music or noise.
What is the meaning of the film’s title?
I’m not sure, but my guess is that silence is something negative in the context of the film. Khorshid has to plug his ears when he’s going to work so as not to be distracted by beautiful sounds, which would cause him to be late for work. Therefore, silence might signify the stifling off artistic sensibility—primarily for practical reasons. In any a way that’s not necessarily negative, but it has a negative connotation at least. The silence might also refer to the way practical-minded people are “deaf” to the art and beauty around them. Or maybe it signifies the gulf between artists and people in general.
>The scene and symbol I’m puzzled about is the mirror. There’s one scene where Khorshid and the girl going down to the lake to draw water. Here’s the sequence of events, which seem poetic and pregnant with meaning:
The girl looks in the mirror while putting cherries over her ears. She then asks Khorshid to hold the mirror. He asks what it is and what it’s for. She explains, and he asks where he is in the mirror. With his or her finger, she “draws” on the mirror a simply face, saying that’s him. We hear the buzzing of a bee (which references other scenes with Khorshid either releasing a bee from a bottle or catching(?) one). The girl plucks a petal off a flower, and Khorshid drops the mirror, breaking it. We see a shot of the two characters looking into the mirror, broken in two—Khorshid on one half and the girl in the other. The girl picks up the piece with Khorshid’s image and Khorshid reaches for the other. Later we see Khorshid’s black sweater laying in some leaves. Khorshid, bare-chested, lays on the sweater. The girl says she will go find their boss because he’s sad; she will call Khorshid later. The camera pans towards some yellowing leaves as she walks away. Then we see a shot of Khorshid half-buried in the leaves.
Later when the mother is riding on a boat with her belongings, we see a large mirror with a reflection of the sun, as the boat rows towards Khorshid.
>What is the role or meaning of nature in the film (e.g., the bees, the flowers, cheeries, leaves, horse, etc.)? Perhaps, part of the time, Makhmalbaf uses animals as a metaphor or simile. Instead of saying the boy ran like a horse, Makhmalbaf shows this. (There’s a scene with the boy pulling the cart, with images cutting between the boy’s tired face and a horse’s.) But I think this is only one way Makhmalbaf uses nature in the film.