Gaav (The Cow). 1969. Iran. Directed by Dariush Mehrjui. With Ezzatolah Entezami, Ali Nasirian. DCP. In Persian; English subtitles. 105 min.
This milestone of the Iranian New Wave portrays, with heartbreaking intensity, the themes of solitude and obsession in the story of a poor villager (unforgettably played by Ezzatolah Entezami) whose only source of joy and livelihood is his cow. When the cow is mysteriously killed one night, the metamorphosis begins. Based on short stories by psychiatrist Gholam-Hossein Sa’edi, The Cow was smuggled to the Venice Film Festival in defiance of an export ban, where it was almost immediately and internationally recognized as a masterpiece. Poignantly wrapped in layers of religion and leftist politics (two major forces of the 1979 revolution), The Cow came under the spotlight more than a decade later, when Ayatollah Khomeini hailed it as an example of “good cinema,” as opposed to the many “corrupting films” of the Pahlavi era (many of which are presented in this exhibition).