Khesht o Ayeneh (Brick and Mirror). 1964. Iran. Written and directed by Ebrahim Golestan. With Taji Ahmadi, Zakaria Hashemi, Jalal Moghadam. DCP. In Persian; English subtitles. 126 min.
Outtake from Khesht o Ayeneh (Brick and Mirror). 1964. Iran. Written and directed by Ebrahim Golestan. Digital restoration courtesy Cineteca di Bologna. US premiere. No dialogue. 4 min.
Iranian cinema’s first true modern masterpiece, Brick and Mirror explores fear and responsibility in the aftermath of the 1953 coup. A Dostoyevskian tale of a Tehran cab driver’s search for the mother of an abandoned baby, it presents a harrowing image of a society of corrupted morals and widespread alienation, a personal response to a particular social context that nonetheless speaks universally. The characters often talk without communicating, their soliloquies falling on the deaf ears of the endless night they inhabit. Divinity and poetry meet in unlikely places: a smoky café, an empty bazaar, an orphanage. With its title alluding to a poem by Attar (“What the old can see in a mudbrick/youth can see in a mirror”), the film moves between realism and expressionism. This digital restoration recaptures the director’s original vision, featuring previously omitted scenes and a “city symphony” outtake.