Eye For Film >> Movies >> Letters In The Wind (2002) Film Review
Letters In The Wind
Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown
A group of Iranian teenagers arrive at an isolated army camp in the mountains for their 21 months of military service, to be subjected to the usual rituals of humiliation and depersonalisation, such as head shaving, removal of personal effects and pointless, Sisyphean exercises. In such a situation, they reach for small comforts, such as the tape recording of voices from home that one of their number has managed to smuggle in...
There is something about the purity and simplicity of a film like Ali Reza-Amni's Letters on the Wind that overwhelms me.
It's the absence of music, an absence you never notice until long after the lights have gone up and you're sitting down to write the review.
It's the raw, unpolished naturalism of the direction and performances, the way in which a moment of poetic beauty - a helmet rolling on the floor, a flow of men down a snowy hillside - arises in seemingly the most implausible of situations without obvious intervention.
Above all, it's the sheer transcendent qualities of the piece, whether viewed filmically in terms of going beyond the artificial boundaries that separate fiction and documentary, or more broadly in terms of presenting scenes of military dehumanisation that unfortunately apply universally regardless of time and place.
Alas, one fears that the authorities within Iran who banned the film will never realise this last point, that Reza-Amni's film and Frederick Wiseman's Basic Training are the mirror images of one another. And, equally tragically, neither will those Americans preparing to bomb Iran...
On this showing, Iranian cinema remains the best in the world. It is that simple.Reviewed on: 23 Aug 2003