THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN
Concerning Law and Liberty
Release Date: April 06, 2001
Starring: Fatemeh Cheragh Akhtar, Hassan
Nabehan, Shabnam Toloui,
Azizeh Seddighi, & Badr Irouni
Audience: Older children & adults
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 77 minutes
Distributor: Shooting Gallery Films
Director: Marzieh Meshkini
Producer: Marzieh Meshkini & Mohsen
Writer: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Address Comments To:Eamonn Bowles, President
Shooting Gallery Films
145 Avenue of the Americas, 7th Floor
New York City, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 905-2000
Fax: (212) 647-1392
Web Page: www.shootinggallery.com
The story of THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN divides into three segments. It is set on an island off the coast of Iran.
In the first segment, the mother and grandmother of a little girl named Hava keep her from joining her playmate, Hassan. They inform Hava that, since she has turned 9 years old today, she has become a woman. Therefore, she can no longer romp about like the boys anymore. After learning that she was not born until noon, Hava insists they allow her to play one last time. The grandmother gives her permission, but tells Hava that, if she does not come back by noon, God will not forgive her.
In the second segment, a young woman competes in a bicycle race with other women, all of them wearing the black loose dresses which women must wear in a strict Islamic country like Iran. Persistently pursuing her, demanding she give up her profane behavior, are her husband, her in-laws, the local religious leader, and the village elders. They warn her that, if she continues the race, they will all disown her.
The final segment involves an elderly wheelchair-bound woman. She goes to the duty-free stores on the island to use her inheritance to buy all the things she has never been able to have during her life. As her purchases add up, a long retinue of boys follows in her wake, pushing large appliances and some furniture. They unwrap the stuff on the beach. Eventually, they load all of it on wooden platforms atop large storage drums, to ship it out to a large boat drifting along the water. At the end of this sequence, and the end of the movie, little Hava returns to watch forlornly as the elderly woman precariously bobs along the waves with all her new merchandise.
THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN is a little too cryptic for its own good, perhaps because of the censorship under which Iranian filmmakers must work. Even so, the movie appears to approach its subject matter, the oppressive situation of girls and women in Islamic Iran, with a humanist worldview and a feminist slant. In addition, a weird thing happens when the grandmother disappears for a bit. The boys who brought her new-bought possessions to the beach start using the items. One of the boys puts on a wedding dress that the woman hung from a clothesline. This short sequence in the third segment may not make much sense to many viewers, but perhaps it echoes the children’s playfulness depicted in the first segment.
There also seems to be a slight anti-capitalist spin to the last scene in THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN, with little Hava watching the elderly woman drift out to sea. Consumer goods and private property are inconsequential compared to the power of nature, the movie may be saying here. Still, this last scene has a provocative, emotional impact that stays with the viewer in a positive way. In a sad, profound sense, Hava is looking at her own possible future as she watches the old woman sitting precariously on one of the makeshift “boats” on the water. The other scenes with Hava in the movie’s first segment, however, are extremely charming. At one point, for example, her playmate, Hassan’s, older sister locks him up in his room to do his homework. Hassan gives Hava some money. Hava uses the money to buy a small sucker. She humorously shares the sucker with Hassan through the bars on his bedroom window.
Ultimately, despite the socialist tinge to its humanist worldview, THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN does contain a moral yearning for liberty. As such, it does not include the kind of licentiousness that American movies often mistake for liberty. Of course, in Jesus Christ, there is true liberty. As James says in James 1:25 of the New Testament, the person who follows Jesus Christ’s “perfect law of liberty . . . shall be blessed in his deed.” Thus, the Christian concept of law and liberty is far better than that of Islam. It’s especially better than the irrational fundamentalism of atheism and humanist skepticism, which offer nothing to the people of this world other than ultimate despair and meaninglessness. For if God, the Divine, Personal Intelligence of the Bible, does not exist, then there is no rational, transcendental reason for the existence of anything, including liberty, morality, law, or provocative artistic works like THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN.
THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN is a little too cryptic at times, but it does seem to have a humanist worldview and a feminist slant. It also seems to contain an anti-capitalist spin. Still, the last shots have a provocative, emotional impact that stay with the viewer in a positive way. Also, the scenes with the little girl are charming. Ultimately, despite the socialist tinge, THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN does contain a certain moral yearning for liberty. As such, it does not include the kind of licentiousness that American movies often mistake for liberty. Of course, in Jesus Christ, there is true liberty. As James says in James 1:25 of the New Testament, the person who follows Jesus Christ’s “perfect law of liberty . . . shall be blessed in his deed.”