The House Is Black (1962) will be screened next month as a part of Golestan Film Studio retrospective at Il Cinema Ritrovato. My good friend Rym Quartsi kindly took the time to translate this piece by Chris Marker from original French (first appeared on Cinéma 67, no. 117, June 1967, on the occasion of the death of Forough). Another friend, Laura Montero Plata, gave me a couple of suggestions after reading it for which I should thank her as well.
Black, abrupt, ardent. These vague words make of her a portrait so precise that you will recognize her amongst thousands. February 13, at 4:30 PM, Forough Farrokhzad died in a car accident in Tehran. She was one of the greatest contemporary Persian poets, and she was also a filmmaker. She had directed The House Is Black, a short feature on the lepers, Grand Prix at Oberhausen, and beyond that practically unknown in Europe, and which is a masterpiece. She was thirty-three years old. She was equally made of magic and energy, she was the Queen of Sheba described by Stendhal. It was particularly the courage. She sought no alibis for herself, no pledges, she knew the horror of the world as well as the despair professionals, she felt the need to fight as well as the justice professionals, but she had not betrayed her deep chant.
For her first film, she went straight to the most unwatchable: leprosy, lepers. And if was needed the gaze of a woman, if is always needed the look of a woman to establish the right distance with suffering and hideousness, without complacency and self-pity, her gaze still transformed her subject, and by by-passing the abominable trap of the symbol, succeed in binding, besides the truth, this leprosy to all the leprosies of the world. So that The House Is Black is also the Land Without Bread of Iran, and the day that French distributors will admit that one can be Persian, we shall notice that Forough Farrokhzad had given more in one movie than lots of people with easier name to remember. She wrote:
"The soil tightly grips my cold body. Without you, far from the emotions of your heart, my heart decomposes under the soil. Rainwater, the gusts, later, quietly, will wash my body under the ground. My grave will be the one of the unknown freed from praises, delivered from the misunderstandings."
Forgive me for the praises, Forough. Freed from misunderstandings, it is to be seen. But to remaining unknown, I do not believe that you will arrive there.
Chris Marker, director.
|Forough directing The House Is Black|