The Kurdish movie A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES was a MOVIEGUIDE® favorite. Director Bahman Ghobadi put some of his own story into the wonderful movie about the a little boy trying to save this younger brother in the cold, windswept mountains of Iran and Iraq. Bahman Ghobadi’s MAROONED IN IRAQ takes a different tact toward the plight of the Kurds whose homeland is divided between Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. With humor and pathos, it shows the devastation that Saddam Hussein visited upon the Iraqi Kurds.
Mirza is a famous singer in the Kurd community. His fourth wife, Hanareh, sends a message to come and help her. Although they were divorced when she ran off with his best friend, Seyed, Mirza tells his sons, Barat and Audeh, that he is still married to Hanareh so that his sons will help him on the long, arduous journey. Later, he tells a friend that he lied to his sons.
Misra and Hanareh and Zayed had a music group that was renowned throughout Kurdistan. The sons are also musicians, although when Mirza and his sons play music, it is totally alien to western ears and may even look comical.
On the journey, they are robbed, forced to bury a matchmaker up to his neck, caught in a gunfight between an angry suitor and the father who gave his beloved away to another man, confronted by the bleak snow capped mountains, lost in empty, devastated, bombed out towns, and sidetracked by women and children crying out for their parents killed by Saddam’s bombing. Finally, Mirza has to go on alone to find Hanareh. When he gets to the refugee camp where she is staying, the people tell him Hanareh is not there, and give him Hanareh’s daughter to take home.
The subplots involve the sons. Audeh has seven wives and 11 children, but keeps marrying new wives in the hopes of having a male heir. Finally, a girl in the refugee camp refuses his offer of marriage and suggests that he just adopt a boy. He adopts two. Barat is a musician who is single and getting old. He hears a woman’s beautiful voice and falls in love with her voice. He leaves her father to pursue this beautiful voice.
Although the director says his movies are movies of prayer, there is little that has to do with religion or faith in this movie. Rather, the movie shows the plight of the Kurds stranded in Iran, Iraq and Turkey, despised by all and attacked by the chemical warfare warplanes of Saddam Hussein. This movie has more comedy than A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES, but not as much heart. One point of humor is that in this desolate land rumors and reputation spread faster than humans can travel, in spite of the bombing, robberies and gun fights. Therefore, everyone knows Mirza and his musical family and all of their trials and tribulations.
MAROONED IN IRAQ is a visually stunning film, showing a world that really seems to be stranded on another planet. It has drawn good reviews, but will probably not draw a large audience.
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(Pa, FR, B, Ab, C, LL, VV, N, A, D, M) Very low key Islamic worldview with some moral as well as some immoral elements and the theme of sacrifice for the sake of love and honor; 6 obscenities and 7 profanities; fist fights, robberies, brandishing of knives, gun fights, and burying a man up to his neck Islamic elements; discussion of marriage; man is stripped to his underwear; drinking; smoking; and, frequent lying.