Friday, 23 June 2017

Anxiety [Delhoreh] (Samuel Khachikian, 1962)

Bootimar in Anxiety [aka Horror]

Playing on June 24, 16:15 at Cine Jolly, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna

Iran, 1962, Dir: Samuel Khachikian

Int. title.: Horror. Alt. title: Anxiety. Script.: Samuel Khachikian (uncredited). Cinematographer.: Ghodratollah Ehsani. Editing: Samuel Khachikian. Art director.: Hassan Paknejad. Music.: Samuel and Soorik Khachikian (selection). Cast.: Irene (Roshanak Niknejad), Abdollah Bootimar (Behrooz Niknejad), Arman (Jamsheed), Shandermani (Babak), Haleh (Fetneh), Reza Beik Imanverdi (killer with knife). Prod.: Azhir Film Studio

Newspaper ad anouncing the screening of the film in three Tehran cinemas

After the success of Storm in Our City [Toofan Dar Shahr-e Ma], which saw the newly established Azhir Film make a significant profit, Samuel Khachikian became unhappy with his partners' spending decisions. Instead of supporting the production of his projects, they invested in a dubbing facility for the studio, so as to import foreign films. Feeling betrayed, Khachikian left the studio and lent his talents to the infamous producer Mehdi Misaqiye, for whom he achieved success with Midnight Terror [Faryad-e Nime-shab]. After various incidents, all of which concerned Misaqiye’s interference and taking of undue credit, Khachikian, disillusioned once again, returned to Azhir Film. He then made two films back to back, which became the studio’s biggest hits: Anxiety [Delhore] and Strike [Zarbat].

A tense story of deceit, blackmail, and murder (with a nod to Les Diaboliques), Anxiety engaged audiences in a way no other Iranian film had done before. Khachikian creates a unique world, by turns familiar and unfamiliar, mapping the features of an ever-changing country (with some fabrications): the emergence of a new bourgeoisie with their maids, American cars, subscription magazines, western music, houses with staircases (as opposed to traditional flat houses) and the presence of modern architecture and impressive government buildings. Khachikian was so meticulous in creating this new world that even the Persian language didn’t satisfy him – he considered it sluggish. Dialogue scenes were shot at 22 fps (instead of 24 fps) to give them the pace they lacked!

By this point in his career, one also has a clearer sense of the way in which Khachikian develops his stories: a dramatic, tightly edited opening; a documentary style tour of Tehran in the middle, abruptly interrupted by a violent incident. Sound is the main means of transitioning between scenes, characters are derived, even in their appearance, from American films and a strong-willed women is introduced as an alternative to the stereotypical depiction of women in Iranian cinema.


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