"Taking the High Road"
What You Need To Know:
A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES is incredible storytelling. These people are not only real, but the director captures the reality of their life without any histrionics. The movie is beautifully filmed; lyrical, yet intense. These children continue to make moral choices. Even surrounded by harsh circumstances and barbaric people, they insist on doing the right thing. When Ayoub’s sister cries out to God for healing for her brother, it captures the essence of the human condition
(BBB, V, A, M) Moral worldview; no foul language; one slap, one scuffle betweeen smugglers, sounds of machine gun fire, father comes home dead on the back of a mule, & little dwarf receives injections; no sex; no nudity; alcohol fed to mules to help them survive the cold of winter & crossing the mountain passes; and, little boy needs to learn how to survive in a very difficult world where people lie & cheat but he remains honest.
A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES is a pathetic title for an incredibly powerful, moral movie. A Cannes Film Festival award winner, A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES is the first movie to be made by the Kurdish writer/director, Bahman Ghobadi. It is a work of genius and an incredible achievement for someone who grew up in the conditions portrayed in the movie. At the beginning of the movie is a written statement from Ghobadi telling the audience that this is the way that life is among the persecuted Kurds of Iraq and Iran.
The movie opens at a bazaar in Iraq. Little Ayoub, the eldest brother of a family of three sisters and two brothers, is wrapping glasses in newspaper. His sister, Ameneh, is looking for work. Both of them are trying to care for their dwarf brother, Madi, who is very sick. For a small payment, they will do anything, including carrying gigantic loads from the smugglers into the bazaar.
After a harrowing journey across the mountains, they get back to their home on the Iranian border. The snow and the cold are so intense that it is hard to imagine that they could survive. When they get home, they find out that their father has died from an ambush or a landmine. Ayoub must take care of the family. Complicating the situation, Madi needs an operation, or he will die. The children love each other and take care of each other with great compassion.
Ayoub gets a job taking goods into Iraq. He finds out that the caravan leaders are dishonest. They refuse to pay him after he makes a harrowing trek across the Caucasian Mountains. Furthermore, at every turn there are threats of ambush. To keep the mules going in the extreme cold, they make them drink alcohol, hence the title of the movie. After working for two months, Ayoub has not earned enough for his brother’s operation, so his sister Rojin agrees to be married in return for the money for the operation.
On the day of the wedding, the mother-in-law refuses to take little Madi and refuses to allow Rojin to divorce her betrothed. Ayoub is left with no older sister to help him, and with little Madi, who desperately needs an operation. He decides to cross the mountains with his mule to sell the mule for his brother’s operation. The caravan gets ambushed, the mules are too drunk to go forward. Abandoned by everyone, Ayoub puts Madi on his back and forges ahead through the landmine-strewn border in the face of terrible odds.
A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES is incredible storytelling. These people are not only real, but the director captures the reality of their life without any histrionics. Every human emotion is expressed. The movie is beautifully filmed; lyrical, yet intense. It deserved the Cannes Film Festival award.
Furthermore, these children continue to make moral choices. Surrounded by circumstances that are so harsh, and people who become so barbaric, they insist on doing the right thing. The cold, windswept Caucasian Mountains serve as real characters in the movie. How life can survive on this desolate borderland is truly miraculous. When one of Ayoub’s sisters cries out to God for healing for her brother, it captures the essence of the human condition. This is not a movie that will get a wide release, its name does not inspire confidence, but if it is found, it is a pearl of great price.