The 1999-made feature, the fourth from the celebrated Iranian director following his Oscar-nominated Children of Heaven (1997) is both paean to the divine and rebuking parable of the facile and materialist portrayal of children’s stories in mainstream (read: Western) cinema.
The story revolves around Mohammed, a blind child prodigy who is on vacation from his special school in Tehran and his growing wonderment with nature and the works of God. This enchantment contrasts with the shame, apprehension and anger his widower father feels at being burdened with a blind son. A fact he is trying to hide from his new fiancée.
The plot, if predictable, isn’t an exercise in melodrama. Rather, it’s melodious – birdsong being a key theme – and profound without being preachy or manipulative. This is helped as much by the roles feeling less acted than lived as Majidi’s ability to express in cinematic terms some of life’s most enduring questions.