Khesht va Ayeneh (The Brick and the Mirror). 1965. Iran. Written and directed by Ebrahim Golestan. In Farsi; English subtitles. 125 min.
With Taji Ahmadi, Zackaria Hashemi, Goli Bozorgmehr. The influence of the “first” Iranian New Wave of the 1960s on contemporary filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, and Ana Lily Amirpour is profound, yet these pioneering works have been largely inaccessible in the West. Newly restored, Ebrahim Golestan’s 1965 classic The Brick and the Mirror offers an ideal entry point into this exciting period of film history, when an independent Iranian cinema movement emerged from a fusion of storytelling, poetic images, and documentary. Pre-revolutionary Tehran pulsates with life in Soleyman Minassian’s expressionistic black-and-white widescreen photography, as a taxi driver discovers an abandoned baby in the back seat of his car and spends a long, desperate night trying to get rid of it. (The infant’s mysteriously veiled mother is played by Forough Farrokhzad, the astonishingly talented poet whose sole film, The House Is Black, was a highlight of To Save and Project in 2011.) With shades of Antonioni—and a climax as harrowing as it is unforgettable—The Brick and the Mirror becomes an allegorical critique of Tehran’s intellectual class: hedonistic, sick-souled, and blind to the looming threat of political repression. Restored digitally from a 35mm release print by the Film Studies Center, University of Chicago.