The Cow. 1969. Iran. Directed by Dariush Mehrjui. With Ezzatolah Entezami, Ali Nasirian. DCP. In Persian; English subtitles. 105 min.
Neorealism, surrealism, and mysticism combine in this formally and conceptually daring film, about a man who becomes consumed by madness when he learns that his cow—the only cow in his impoverished village—has mysteriously disappeared. A pioneering picture of the Iranian New Wave, The Cow was funded by the state but initially banned for its depiction of poverty, which contradicted the image of modernity the Pahlavi regime sought to project. The film was smuggled to the Venice Film Festival in 1971, where it won a critics’ award. The most enduring figure in Iranian cinema, Dariush Mehrjui (The Cycle, Leila, The Pear Tree) remained in Iran after the Islamic Revolution and continues to be active on the film scene today.