A Social History of Iranian Cinema, Volume 1: The Artisanal by Hamid Naficy

By Hamid Naficy

Hamid Naficy is without doubt one of the world’s major professionals on Iranian movie, and A Social heritage of Iranian Cinema is his magnum opus. masking the overdue 19th century to the early twenty-first and addressing documentaries, renowned genres, and paintings movies, it explains Iran’s abnormal cinematic construction modes, in addition to the function of cinema and media in shaping modernity and a contemporary nationwide identification in Iran. This finished social historical past unfolds throughout 4 volumes, every one of which are preferred on its own.

Volume 1 depicts and analyzes the early years of Iranian cinema. movie was once brought in Iran in 1900, 3 years after the country’s first advertisement movie exhibitor observed the recent medium in nice Britain. An artisanal cinema backed via the ruling shahs and different elites quickly emerged. The presence of girls, either at the reveal and in motion picture homes, proved arguable till 1925, while Reza Shah Pahlavi dissolved the Qajar dynasty. Ruling until eventually 1941, Reza Shah applied a Westernization application meant to unite, modernize, and secularize his multicultural, multilingual, and multiethnic state. Cinematic representations of a fast-modernizing Iran have been inspired, the veil was once outlawed, and dandies flourished. while, images, motion picture creation, and picture homes have been tightly managed. movie construction finally proved marginal to country formation. merely 4 silent characteristic motion pictures have been produced in Iran; of the 5 Persian-language sound gains proven within the kingdom earlier than 1941, 4 have been made by way of an Iranian expatriate in India.

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Extra resources for A Social History of Iranian Cinema, Volume 1: The Artisanal Era

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For the first time, two films by a female director were screened. None of the films was supportive of the Islamist regime or of its politics; in fact, almost all of them were implicitly critical either of the prerevolutionary or the postrevolutionary societies. Most remarkably, the films totally erased the ruling clerics in their narratives. Bill Nichols, who years later reviewed a dozen Iranian movies at a festival, came to a similar conclusion: “Absent are explicit references to religion and the state.

The absence of personal opinion on my part may be interpreted in different ways: I was a child, too inexperienced and shy to express critical judgment about movies in writing; or I was applying a subconscious strategy of resistance, a refusal to make the 180-degree interpellative turn to become the subject of the Western Other. In Jean Baudrillard’s words, this was a form of “refusal by over-acceptance” (1985:588). Yet my friends and I loved American fiction movies and fetishized their stars, imitated their style, and took delight in mimicking their names with exaggerated flourish.

In this manner modern subjectivity and individuality were shaped and regulated in the fields of power—­vis-à-vis family, state, and society. As I entered high school, the family circle proved insufficient. In the late 1950s, I branched out by joining the Saeb Literary Society in Isfahan, which in those days witnessed the rise of leftist and modernist intellectuals, like me, against the old-fashioned traditionalist members. Literary societies are important civil institutions with deep roots in modern Iranian history.

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