The Great Yawn Of History


Reviewed by: Sergiu Inizian

The Great Yawn Of History
"The clever dialogue and spirited performances find humour amid a generational discord developed over a visually striking journey." | Photo: © Amirhossein Shojaie

In his feature debut, Iranian filmmaker Aliyar Rasti weaves a story of greed and faith, focusing on a young drifter entangled in an older man's quest for wealth. The clever dialogue and spirited performances find humour amid a generational discord developed over a visually striking journey. As stubborn belief clashes with disappointment, The Great Yawn Of History becomes a tense drama in which the prospect of a fulfilling outcome hangs by a thread.

Beitollah (Mohammad Aghebati), a self-described man of faith, tosses and turns in bed. He is mesmerised by a dream about a box of gold coins in a cave. He decides to take action but knows his belief forbids him to retrieve the treasure. From the get-go, Rasti cleverly sets up the exploration of money and faith, showing the middle-aged man scribbling on fake dollar bills and scattering them around a market. Only unbelievers would pick up the money. Soon, a group of men knock on his door, having read on the bills that he is looking for a hired hand. Shoja (Amirhossein Hosseini), a slender young man, stands out, fitting Beitollah's criteria of unfaithfulness. Embarking on their search for the treasure, they rely on the man's vague dream to find the cave.

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Rasti's unconventional take on the road movie genre has an alert rhythm, inviting viewers to engage with a snappy dialogue that sparks unexpected moments of humour. As they explore several empty caves, Shoja starts questioning the cryptic dream. Aghebati is compelling as a self-righteous man who challenges his companion for the very lack of faith he selected him for. Delving deeper into their expedition, the charm of their interactions turns into disillusion, signalling a story of fundamental misunderstanding.

Shoja slowly becomes the central figure, with the viewer discovering what he is hiding from his fellow traveller. Beitollah is oblivious to the young man's painful background, perhaps having no interest in understanding an unbeliever's story. The older man's arrogance shines a light on Shoja’s quiet demeanour, Hosseini showing defiance and resilience simply with his eyes. We get the feeling he's chasing more than just wealth. He's searching for a sense of identity - one which is free from dogma and perceived miracles.

Rasti works beautifully with landscape and colour, signalling the elusive nature of the treasure through an engaging coppery tint. Whether on clothes or leaves, the colour follows the protagonists, particularly as they journey into a desert, chasing the golden shine. The first-time feature director fittingly captures Beitollah's meltdown as he loses faith in a divine sign while surrounded by an environment known for its illusory nature. Rasti makes a compelling point, not about the nature of faith, which the man undoubtedly has, but about greed, which surpasses kindness and leaves the heart vulnerable and barren.

The Great Yawn Of History masterfully explores the tension between Beitollah's unwavering faith and Shoja's hidden pain. Their constant back and forth guides the viewer through a desolate landscape that might hide both riches and dangers. Ultimately, Rasti invites reflection on the nature of obsessive belief which pushes the youth away and creates great chasms between generations.

Reviewed on: 05 Mar 2024
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A religious man dreams of finding gold coins hidden in a cave. Aware that his belief prohibits him from claiming the treasure, he hires a non-religious young man to assist in its retrieval.

Director: Aliyar Rasti

Writer: Aliyar Rasti

Starring: Saber Abar, Mohammad Aghebati, Seyyed Mehrdad Ziaei, Mahin Sadri, Amirhossein Hosseini

Year: 2024

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: Iran


BIFF 2024

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