Thursday 29 September 2022

Chess of the Wind: The Glorious Miniature of an Upheaval

Chess of the Wind

When Chess of the Wind premiered in November 1976, at the fifth Tehran International Film Festival, nobody knew what to make of it. A mix-up in the order of the reels at the first of three screenings—either a technical issue or a deliberate act of sabotage—made the plot almost unintelligible, while faulty projector lamps meant that the interior scenes, certain of which are artfully lit using candlelight, appeared so dark that viewers became angry. Moreover, despite the film’s historical setting—the drama unfolds in a feudal mansion, following the death of a matriarch—this tale of deceit and intrigue was a little too close to the bone for a society that had become increasingly polarized since the beginning of the seventies. Complete with breaks in the fourth wall, a delicately handled lesbian scene (the first of its kind in Iranian cinema), and an ending in which a working-class woman overthrows a male-dominated household and liberates herself, this enigmatic work was both perplexing and reflective of a changing Iran...

Read the full essay on Criterion website


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