Criticism of ‘The lives of others’

BTeam Pictures

Direction: Mohammad Rasoulof Distribution: Ehsan Mirhosseini, Shaghayegh Shoorian, Kaveh Ahangar Original title: Sheytan vojud swim Country: Iran, Germany, Czech Republic Year: 2020 Release date: 25-6-2021 Gender: Drama Script: Mohammad Rasoulof Photography: Ashkan ashkani Synopsis: Winner of the Golden Bear at the last Berlinale. The well-known Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, pending sentence for showing the government’s repression in his cinema, presents us with four stories of daily life in Iran where the death penalty affects not only the convicted but also the lives of others. A powerful journey defined by the paradoxes of the Iranian people.


The best: the first, impressive episode.

The worst: the decompensation between its four sections.

We would be wrong to judge Rasoulof’s film only in light of what it exhibits. In fact, the director of La Isla de Hierro (2005), poorly known in Spain, is not only a filmmaker, but also a staunch defender of human rights in an archaic, repressive and contradictory theocracy, and not infrequently, surpassed by its own civil society such as the Iranian one. From the cinematographic point of view, the film, Golden Bear in Berlin 2020, summarizes four stories of unequal interest. The first one is striking, and not a little, that it should be shown in any film school to make it clear how much can be said without overloading things, making what is elided the meat of the complaint. And, at a lower level, also that of the executioner recognized by his victim: the rest is just filler.

Beyond its strengths or weaknesses, it is necessary to defend the proposal because, relentlessly, it positions itself openly against the death penalty, that horror of yesterday, today and forever. There is the lesson of an excessive film, but whose shooting and career are particularly difficult in a country like Iran. In this case, it is convenient to speak more of civic courage than of narrative virtues, of ethical risk than of whether it is better or worse written. That is also the story, so many times, of a movie.

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