Jolly Cinema > 14:00


Bahram Beyzaie
Introduced by

Ehsan Khoshbakht


Saturday 01/07/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Bahram Beyzaie’s seamless blend of myth, symbolism, folklore and classical Persian literature in Cherike-ye Tara is unparalleled in its complexity. Yet, apart from Ragbar (Downpour, 1972), which was restored and revived a decade ago, the director with the most consistent body of work in the Iranian cinema of the 1970s is also, unjustly, one of the most invisible masters of the Iranian New Wave. Here, as well as directing, he has also produced, written, set and costume-designed, and edited a mesmerising tale that fuses the ceremonial legends of the past with contemporary life. Tara, a strong-willed widow encounters the fleeting ghost of an ancient warrior in the forest next to her village. The ghost’s appearances become more frequent and finally he talks to her, claiming a sword that she has found among her father’s effects. Without the sword, the dead warrior can’t rest. But when the sword is restored to him, it’s his love for Tara that prevents him from returning to the land of the dead.
With the close of production coinciding with the 1979 revolution and the Islamist takeover of the country, it wasn’t so much the political symbolism of the film that led to its indefinite ban. Rather, it was the image of a woman, both desired and at the same time in charge of her destiny, which upset the authorities. (Cannes 1980 was the only official screening of the film.) Susan Taslimi’s stunning debut in the role of Tara remained unseen. Her energy is matched by the self-assured performance of Beyzaie’s regular collaborator, Manouchehr Farid.
The film is influenced by the patterns of ancient ritual as many of the scenes occur in parallel with a Ta’zieh performance, a Shia passion play, depicting the sufferings of Imam Hossein. The film could be seen as a secular interpretation of Ta’zieh (as much as a feminist take on Kurosawa) in which Tara, having lost the men in her life, realises that she must pick up a sword and redefine her womanhood. In that sense, the last sequence, one of the greatest moments of Iranian cinema, anticipates in its epic poetry the bravery of the struggles of Iranian women today.

Ehsan Khoshbakht

Cast and Credits

Scen., M., Scgf.: Bahram Beyzaie. F.: Mehrdad Fakhimi. Int.: Susan Taslimi (Tara), Manouchehr Farid (antico guerriero), Reza Babak (Ghelich), Siamak Atlasi (Ashoub), Mahim Dayhim (vicino). Prod.: Leesar Film Group (Bahram Beyzaie). DCP. D.: 102’. Col.