Thursday, June 12, 2014

Children of Heaven

Children from Heaven, is a 1997 Iranian family drama film written and directed by Majid Majidi. This is a very heartwarming story about a very poor family in Iran and how something so small as a pair of shoes gone missing can change the lives of the people portrayed in this film. The story starts out with a young boy (Ali) running a few errands for his mother in town. While doing these things for his mother he loses a pair of shoes that means the world to his little sister (Zahra). When Ali confessed to his sister Zahra that her shoes have gone missing she was very upset and was concerned about how she would get to school. Ali begged her not to say anything to the parents, that he will somehow find the shoes. However, for the meantime they worked out a schedule so that they can share shoes. The sister goes to school on an earlier schedule than the brother so they are able to make a plan to meet up at a designated area to switch shoes so then the brother can go to his school. Although this causes him to arrive late several times, he gets in trouble by a school administrator. As the story continues Zahra see’s another girl in her school wearing the shoes that were once hers. She is determined to get them back, but once she follows the little girl who now has her shoes, Zahra see’s that the girl has a father who is blind. After she saw this, she could no longer go ahead with her plan to get her shoes back because her heart is too big. Ali has tried everything to keep this a secret from the parents. But something in his school happened that made him feel like his prayers were answered. There was a race that was taking place in the province and whoever came in third place would receive a brand new pair of sneakers. Ali was convinced that he could achieve third place to win the sneakers and trade them in for girl shoes so that he could then give them to his sister. Once the day of the race came it was very dramatic, you see Ali trying his best. He was able to hold third place at one point but then tripped and fell close to the end of the race. He got up and with all his might made it back to the front line. He did not want to be in first place but at this point the boys in the race were very crowded and it was hard to tell if he was in third. When the race finish he did not get third place he came in first. You would think that he would be happy, however he was devastated because first place did not receive the sneakers. The movie ends with him failing time after time and never recuperating the shoes that belonged to Zahra.

 One of the themes in this movie is unity within the family and love. Ali is an amazing son. Although he made the mistake of misplacing the shoes, he was committed in finding a way to replace the shoes not because he didn’t want to get in trouble but because he knew his parents were not doing well financially and he didn’t want to burden them with this problem. That shows that he is a very considerate boy. The mother is ill and Ali and Zahra have basically given up there youth to maintain the duties of the household. There were many times Ali was asked to go out and play but he would always respond that his mother was ill and that he couldn’t go. This shows that family comes first and that he was there for them unconditionally. Ali is among the best students in his school, he even started working with his father to earn some extra cash even if it wasn’t much. The love between Zahra and Ali is beautiful, the bond they have is inspiring. It is nice to see a family that is very united and caring, although they are poor and have a sick mother. It makes you appreciate the values of family.

Although the quality of the movie was not so great the story line was phenomenal. It definitely shows the differences in our cultures. Here in the U.S. we sometimes take things for granted. And in places like Iran, losing a pair of shoes can create a big difference in your life. You can also see the difference in the children. At such a young age they are already obligated to have many responsibilities where here in the U.S. most kids around that age are playing video games, playing with friends, watching TV etc. It’s a very good movie to instill valuable morals.  

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