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Video | After the Revolution

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

05 Jan 2012 18:47Comments

[ blog ] This documentary by Kianoush Ayari captures some great scenes from the summer after the 1979 revolution. The title, Tazeh Nafasha -- fresh breath, literally -- describes the revolutionary euphoria of the early days. Mehdi Bazargan was prime minister, women were not yet forcefully veiled, and a bright future seemed possible.

The documentary begins with scenes from the early postrevolutionary days when every group was free to advocate its views. Books were sold and pamphlets distributed on the sidewalks of Tehran. One man shouts, "The cause of people's general hatred of Marxism!"; another hawks tomes by Ayatollah Morteza Motahari -- who was killed soon afterward -- and Mehdi Bazargan.

There is a heated discussion about what the government had promised Iranians -- 750 tomans per month (about $110 at the time) -- and how not everyone is getting it. Some defend the government, while others complain.

Yasser Arafat was popular in that era. One entrepreneur tries to make money off him: a person can get done up to look like a Palestinian fighter, stand next to an image of Arafat, and take a picture with him.

Three plays follow, all about the Revolution. Miri, a leading comedian, plays the lead in the first, which is about how some counterrevolutionaries tried to leave the country with suitcases full of money, but were caught. The counterrevolutionaries attempted to fake a wedding and then leave on their "honeymoon."

The second play concerns the Shah's military court in Shiraz. A leftist -- on the left, possibly played by Faramarz Gharibian -- and a Muslim -- on the right, played by Mohammad Varshochi, who recently passed away -- are condemned to death. Revolutionaries rescue them, although the Muslim one is martyred.

The third play is about the demonstrations that took place during the Revolution. The woman with long hair is Shahnaz Tehrani. The actors shout "Either death or freedom!"

Next we see a sort of street theater in a park. A young man mimics the famous singer and showman Fereydoun Farrokhzad. He tries to sing one of Farrokhzad's popular songs, but just repeats one line over and over again, mockingly: "It was night, it was the desert, it was winter." (Farrokhzad was assassinated in 1992 in Germany.) A second performer mimics Soli, another well-known singer of the era. Two Majles deputies under the Shah, Mazaheri and Bani Ahmad, are mocked; another singer, Jamal Vafaei, is mimicked; and then someone imitates the Shah himself -- fairly well -- describing how he had to flee the country.

The following section shows the poor areas in south Tehran that will supposedly benefit from the Revolution and the narcotics addicts who will supposedly be taken care of.

A speech by Abolhassan Bani Sadr follows (only his voice is heard), in which he talks about the reasons that Iran's economy has been dependent on the West.

Then, once again, various groups argue in front of the University of Tehran. At the gate, a woman loudly condemns the United States and Israel.

The film ends with images of campaign literature for the first election after the Revolution, for the Assembly of Constitutional Experts, empowered to draft the new Islamic Republic's constitution.

Text Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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