The Accordion

The Accordion


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

This is an excerpt from a longer work by Jafar Panahi. Two children wander the streets, the older one playing the accordion, the younger the tablas. Apparently the segment will appear in Then And Now, but circumstances make that uncertain. The tousle-haired ingenue scouts ahead, running back with a desperate cry of 'mosque'. A headscarf donned, pleading, to no avail, the accordion taken. Through the market, and suddenly one can almost hear Hendrix; "where are you going with that rock in your hand?"

It's meant to be part of a film about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religious freedom."

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There's an irony there. Though perhaps too that for all its import this feels like stereotypical Iranian cinema. Panahi has done a lot to create our perception of what Iranian cinema is, and if a recent verdict is upheld he will be prevented from making another film for at least 20 years. It doesn't feel transgressive. Indeed, as part of a United Nations project it feels a product of an establishment. Not all of them, of course, and given how parlous so many governments look in the region, who knows what might follow?

It feels authentic, in as much as an outsider can judge. There is fear, compassion - motives become clear enough, but not all of them. Least of all behind the camera. This feels restrained, like a pulled punch. Despite the quality of the few performances, the documentary feel of the action, the camera, The Accordion doesn't play well. It's a poor swansong.

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2011
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When their accordion is confiscated, two children contemplate the meaning or acceptance, resistance and meaningful political struggle.
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Director: Jafar Panahi

Writer: Jafar Panahi

Starring: Kambiz Bahrami, Khadije Bahrami

Year: 2010

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: Iran


Glasgow 2011
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