The Green Wave

The Green Wave


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

This documentary charting events surrounding the 2009 elections and subsequent protests and government crackdown in Iran uses the words from internet blogs and social networking sites to paint a picture of what happened from the people's persepctive. Like 2009's Iran: Voices Of The Unheard, the tale that unfolds is one of shocking oppression which, in turn, leads to violence wreaked by a government willing to do anything to cling to power - including torture and slay its own people.

While the testimony of those brave bloggers, who risked imprisonment, torture and death to tell their stories to the world, is read out, it is accompanied by snatched mobile phone footage of what happened during the run up to and aftermath of the election. Where that isn't possible, animated sequences illustrating events. The animation has a sickly colour palette, murky with browns and bruised purples, and depicts people, for the most part, with their faces in fixed states of anguish. While the colours recall the desert landscapes of Waltz With Bashir, this is a simpler affair, showing the characters as frozen in a moment - a decision which could stand as a metaphor for these Iranians in general, trapped in a situation they are powerless to change.

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These snippets from 'within Iraq' are bookended by talking heads' testimony from those who have now fled and whose words are contained in this film.

It all could have been so different. Initial blogs talk of the excitement of the run up to the elections, of a spirit of debate that hadn't been seen for some time and of crowds taking to the streets to rally behind the opposition lead by Mir-Hossein Mousavi. He himself, is far from a radical revolutionary and was not looking to fundamentally alter the state but he did offer a more moderate alternative to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rule. There is a prevailing air of joy at a rare opportunity for freedom of speech, although, as we all now know, it was short lived.

"Many people thought the elections could not be manipulated," says one contributor. How wrong they were and as the light dawned on people that freedom from the corrupt regime was not on the cards, many took to the streets to peacefully protest in a sort of societal solidarity. Sporting green clothing and carrying green cloth - the colour both a symbol of hope and Islam - they became known as the Green Revolution. "Endurance is the only option," says one of the contributors. The result was not the green wave of peaceful revolution they had hoped for but of mass carnage at the hands of government militia, including the shocking death of Neda Soltan - a young female student - whose murder reverberated around the world.

Ali Samadi Ahadi paints a poetic and heartfelt portrait of a nation oppressed, a place where, as woman says: "The blood of our young people is shed and later prayed on." The voice-overs are of variable quality in terms of delivery, but the sentiments uttered are no less striking. This is on the one hand a primer of events in Iran, which it could be argued have had a profound effect on the region, culminating in the ongoing Arab Spring uprisings. But it is much more than a simple history lesson, it is a cri de coeur of many voices, hoping that their government and we in the West will not just hear, but actually listen.

Reviewed on: 31 Mar 2011
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Story of the 2009 Iranian elections and subsequent protests, told by bloggers from within the country
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Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi

Year: 2010

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: Germany

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