The Song of Sparrows (2008) Poster

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Undoubtedly contemplative and metaphorical, film guarantees a high replay value.
crey01425 July 2008
Majid Majidi helms "Avaze Gonjeshk-ha", a film that laments on the influence of materialistic societies and elevates pastoral romanticism. Beautifully filmed and empathetically characterized, audiences will be enchanted by little pleasures delivered, eventually snowballing to something poetically charged. Run time might be excessive, but this might just prove as nitpicking. Script lacks any sort of cynicism, a positive, as the film is nostalgic to moments of innocence. Question is, did it even exist? Picture shows it did in Majidi's universe.

First act parallels the vibe of the Argentinean produced "Bombon: El Perro". Main protagonist Karim (Mohammad Amir Naji), fired from his job as an ostrich farmer, ventures off to Tehran to earn some money and find means to upgrade a broken hearing aid desperately needed by one of his daughters. Characterization is the main motivation here, as the director lovingly sculpts Karim as a paternal character untarnished by any sort of negative, earthly influences. Not that he is uninspired by desire, but his desire is more directed to more altruistic means towards his family. Thesping by Naji is pitch perfect.

And here's where the film becomes more than it actually claims to be. Venturing off to exciting Tehran, Karim turns wide eyed, as he accidentally becomes a taxi driver. Comedy is potent here, definitely not used to degrade main protagonist though. Eventually, picture develops him into an influenced mortal showing greed and materialism. From an innocent television antenna, his backyard expands and practically becomes a junkyard. His character development transcends the screen, as every piece of junk he hogs, loss of his old self is palpable.

Directing clearly emphasizes Karim as an Adam out of Eden, banished by circumstances to a city wrapped in earthly pleasures. Cinematography plays a massive role in this recurring theme. Lensed by Turaj Mansuri, film paints Iranian countryside as fertile and effervescent whilst modern Tehran isn't exactly depicted as ruthless and evil, but more constrictive and crowded. Cityscape is painted as monotone brown, allowing the characters to paint themselves, easily using citizens to express a point. Film isn't judgmental of city living, only reminds them of what they're missing.

And that's just the first act. Next chapters' focuses on Karim's redemption from a fall from grace, events transpired that might come off normal to modern people but nonetheless, out of character to himself. His family life is placed in focus, as with Karim, audiences are allowed to comprehend (and remind main protagonist) what his old desires were. Undoubtedly contemplative and metaphorical, film guarantees a high replay value. Film strikes a cord with a visual cue on fish out of water.

Picture definitely doesn't ask much from the audience, however it's upon the audience to accept it. This will reward them though as Majidi proves himself as a rich painter of not characters, but spotless souls. As with his previous films, Majidi transfers his optimism on celluloid without much trouble. Detail here is exemplary as every facet of the production is riddled with ideas waiting to be uncovered by repeat viewings.
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A Tale To Charm The Birdies Out Of The Trees (no matter what size they are)
druid333-221 September 2009
Majid Majidi has gone and done it again. He has crafted a simple story of a loving family man (although not without some minor flaws)who has several humbling experiences in life. Karim (played very well by Majidi regular,Mohammad Amir Naji,here known as Reza Naji)has a cushy job working at an ostrich farm,keeping watch over the king sized birds. Trouble erupts when one of the birds escapes from the pen,resulting in Karim losing his job. Good fortune happens to drop in Karim's lap when he ends up becoming a taxi driver in downtown Tehran. Other plot elements are dropped into the mix in the form of his eldest daughter,Haniyeh (Shabnam Aklaghi)who is partially deaf,loses her hearing aid,because of her younger brother,Hussein (Hamed Aghazi),who wants to start a goldfish hatchery in an unused well,who loses the hearing aid in the well/muck hole that it is. Toss in an understanding & loving wife,caring neighbors,and others,and you have yourself a loving film that is a treat for the eye & other senses. Majid Majidi directs from a screenplay written by Majidi & Mehran Kashani. The cinematography by Tooraj Mansouri successfully manages to capture the rugged Iranian landscape,with momentary bursts of colour (check out the scene of Naji carrying a blue door across the bleak desert-like landscape of the Iranian countryside,as well as some other breath taking scenes that are a treat for the eye). Rated PG by the MPAA for some brief,rude language,but contains nothing else to offend.
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The Song of Sparrows
superlo8 May 2010
This is the story of Karim, the rural Iranian father of a deaf teen-aged daughter and two younger children. When, at the same time, he loses his job on an Ostrich ranch and his daughter loses her hearing aid right before important school exams, he heads to Tehran on his motorbike to look for work. By accident, he becomes a motorbike taxi driver and begins to make more money than he ever dreamed of. But he also begins to change as his desire for things and his ethics collide. Having promised his wife that the first priority would be to replace their daughter's hearing aid, he finds himself tempted by the material life he now has access to. Several heart breaking incidents cause him to examine what he has become. While the story/parable may be familiar, what is special is the way Majidi presents it. The dialogue is minimal letting the non-verbal actions of the characters speak for themselves as well as the great cinematography. Unlike many (not all)American films, it does not insult your intelligence with shallow dialogue and unnecessary action. Majidi really develops the characters into believable human beings. Reza Naji is great as Karim and the children in the film are so delightful and photogenic. And if you enjoy learning about and experiencing other cultures, it is a great window into Iranian culture, in this case, both rural and urban. With most of us only getting the sound bites about Iran we hear on radio or TV, this will give an insight into the real people and culture.
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Choose Life
lyrxsf22 April 2011
No big drama, no intense car chase, no sex-laden imagery. Yet the film tugs. It has a compelling draw. It has all the simplicity of making a living, raising kids, living life. And then there are moments which confront complexity, where dreams and desires crash against life's harshness. Letting go an easy but corrupt deal which could pay for the daughter's hearing aid, being able to break into a song after the kids have witnessed their long-cherished plan choke on itself. The camera captures some poetry – of blue doors, sweeping vistas with ostriches, and landscapes which come alive from a kid's loving scrawl to full bloom. Did you know the pleasure of being on a breezy rooftop with your wife while the kids watch TV late in the evening? For such and many other life's precious moments, this film is a must watch.
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Sweet and often sentimental
howard.schumann5 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Iranian director Majid Majidi is known for sweet and often sentimental films that contrast with the more acerbic films of his countrymen Jafar Panahi and Abbas Kiarostami. Though no Iranian film has made much headway at the box office in the U.S., films such as Majidi's Color of Paradise have found their audience on DVD and he has received numerous awards, including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film for Children of Heaven. His latest film, The Song of Sparrows, which appeared at several film festivals last year, has now opened in limited release in New York and Los Angeles and it carries on in the same tradition of simplicity, warmth, and a substantial dollop of sentimentality.

Reza Naji, who portrayed the blind boy's father in The Color of Paradise, is Karim, a poor man who works on an ostrich farm in rural Iran. Karim, a devoted husband and father of three, loses his job when one of his birds, a symbol of nature, wanders into the hills. Though he chases after the bird, putting on an ostrich costume in a comic attempt to capture the bird, it is to no avail. Compounding his misfortune, his oldest daughter Haniyeh ((Shabnam Aklaghi) drops her hearing aid into the water-storage tank so that it now requires expensive repairs, money that the family does not have. Traveling to Tehran to try to fix the hearing aid, Karim inadvertently finds that people, some with considerable means, mistake his motorbike for a taxi, giving him a new and lucrative line of work as a cabbie.

Clearly visible, however, is the contrast between Karim's wealthy customers and the poor beggars who wait at the side of the road and the job exposes him to the seamier side of big city life and the ugly grey face of crowded Tehran. As a taxi driver, Karim is bilked out of his fare, threatened with reprisals if he does not find another spot to wait for customers, listens to men shouting at each other on their cell phones, and gradually succumbs to the allure of accumulation. Every night he brings home another piece of useless junk that he finds on his route and they begin to pile up in his backyard.

Slowly he begins to lose his generous and honest nature and even his children become corrupted. His youngest son Hussein (Hamed Aghazi) makes plans to become a millionaire by cleaning out a sludge-filled pit and using it to breed and sell goldfish, unaware of what is involved. When the fish are accidentally lost, the boys are overcome with grief but Karim, who has been forced into self reflection by an accident, reminds them that "the world is a dream and a lie," forecasting the family's return to sanity and joy, exemplified by an exquisite ostrich dance that brings a note of light-hearted grace.
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Berlin Film Festival
kosmasp15 July 2008
Another movie that played at the Berlin Film Festival, this low-key drama has a very human side to it. The actors (some of which were also in Germany for the premiere and seem as down to earth, as the roles they played in this movie) are really good and have a simplicity to them that is very gorgeous.

The characters are very down to earth and the story itself or let's say it's pace, might remind people of classic movies such as "Bicycle Thieves" (kind of neo-realism, if you want to call it that). If you don't have a problem with that, then you will enjoy this movie as much as the audience in Berlin did (including myself) :o)
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delightful family movie
jeppesen-114 February 2010
I don't know if this movie is considered a comedy, but soooo many funny things happen it's hilarious from start to finish. The main thing that comes to mind is murphy's law (if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all; or, if anything can go wrong, it will.) I also really enjoyed seeing the Iranian landscape and their way of life. Everything that can be used or fixed is utilized. This movie is serious, funny, heartwarming, and good clean family type of entertainment. I thought the acting was great, and the characters endearing. This has got to be one of the best foreign films I've seen. Best thing since Slumdog Millionaire. Too bad it wasn't in English, but than maybe that added to the overall sense of the movie.
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Very, very slow...but rewarding.
MartinHafer11 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is about the 6th film of Majid Majidi that I have seen and reviewed. I would see more, but currently these are the only ones readily available here in the US. All are exceptionally well acted and compelling films about working class folks. And, while they lack the glamor and excitement of most films, there is a simple beauty about them that keeps me coming back for more.

Perennial Majidi actor, Mohammad Amir Naji, plays Karim--a poor guy who loses his temper a lot but has a lot of decency buried within him--and a lot to admire. His life seems, for a while, to be nothing but financial hardships. His oldest daughter loses her hearing aid in a stagnant pool, when it's found it is hopelessly ruined AND he loses his job. With no insurance on the hearing aid, he is determined to do anything, or just about anything, to make the money to get the hearing aid. On a lark, he gets work as an independent cabbie--of sorts. He shuttles people and packages all over Teheran on his motorcycle. In addition, when he sees salvageable junk, he carts it home to the countryside where he lives with his family.

At the same time, his young son (who appears to be only about 7) has business plans of his own. Like his father, he has a very strong sense of family responsibility and he and his friends go to amazing lengths to start up an odd little business.

There are many ups and downs in the story, but during all these the family never loses their sense of decency and love--despite Karim being a bit of a blow-hard at home. A very moving tale that really helps you to appreciate all that you have--especially since these people have so little yet seem content. My only reservation, and it's a small one, is that not a lot overtly happens in the film--and it seems a tad incomplete.

In some ways, this film is an awful lot like Majidi's "Children of Heaven"--with the same man playing the father, the same financial problems and the same sense of ingenuity within the children. Both are lovely films, but I strongly recommend you first see "Children of Heaven" or "The Color of Paradise" first--they are great films and represent Majidi at his very best.
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Majidi does it again!
elsinefilo11 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Majid Majidi's favorite man,Reza Naji who played the construction overseer Memar in Baran (2001),the father of the blind boy Ali in Bacheha-Ye aseman (1997),and Mortaza the hospital mate of Youssef (Parviz Parastui)in Beed-e majnoon (2005)plays Karim this time. Karim works in an ostrich farm.He doesn't make much but he seems to be contented with what he has with his simple family. One day he gets the ax when one of the ostriches runs away.On his way back home, he finds out that her daughter has dropped her hearing aid in the sludge of the local storage. Soon after, he travels to Tehran to have the hearing aid fixed.When he is mistaken for a cabbie with his motorbike he starts making his living in Tehran.Through heavy traffic he carries goods like- even-a refrigerator and many sorts of people.Through the bustling city life we witness Karim's sustained efforts trying to preserve his unadulterated self. Karim,even as an understanding husband and father is still part of a patriarchal society. He believes in his own truth. For instance, one day when he is coming back from the city,he sees his kids selling flowers on the roadside and the first reaction he gives is:" Don't I provide for you enough?" However the only dream his son Hussein (Hamed Aghazi), has is to clean up the storage,buy some fish to let them reproduce there and to become a millionaire by selling more and more fish:)No matter how brusque he looks like Karim is a good-hearted guy like any other major Majidi character. Deeply and genuinely concerned with faith,bad men don't seem to be taking much of a space in Majidi's movies. Unlike other Iranian directors like Abbas Kiarostami he seems to have undertaken a mission of creating simple but sweet movies. Last but not least,IMDb's language information may sometimes be not fully correct. Majidi uses more and more the Turkish language in his movies. Song of Sparrows include more Turkish words than his previous movies maybe because of the fact that Karim and the local people around him speak a Persian mixed with Azerbaijani Turkish. The song Karim sings at the back of the truck and the song he sings to his wife are in Turkish. The songs to which they listen on the truck's tape recorder are also in Turkish. It may be just me but I guess Song of Sparrows is also a more hopeful and less dark movie than the previous Majidi flicks. As someone who have seen his movies like Baran and The Colour of Paradise, this one is easier to watch without tears. All in all, it is a purely humanitarian,an overwhelmingly sweet movie that you will just like!
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A Nutshell Review: The Song of Sparrows
DICK STEEL14 November 2009
I've only seen but a handful of films from Majid Majidi the master Iranian filmmaker, and he continues to open my eyes to Iranian cinema with his latest The Song of Sparrows, telling the tale of a down and out of luck Karim (starring regular Reza Najie), a general worker in an ostrich farm, and the life of his family in a quaint little village. Being the perpetual loser in life, sometimes as a consequence of victimization, we follow his misadventures as a small time guy being caught up with opportunities in the big city, again being the puppet on whom Chance chooses to smile upon.

There are plenty of comedic chaos in the film which makes this quite the delight to watch. In the beginning we see how he orders a group of children around when they were treading around sludge waters in an abandoned well to find the hearing aid belonging to his daughter. Taking charge over the operations and barking orders to the kids, we discover he's not exactly that inspirational a leader even amongst kids, being devoid of clever ideas whose bark is more severe than his bite. Then comes the escape of an ostrich in the farm which he and a group of fellow workers fail to recapture, leading to his dismissal from work.

With time on his hands, he journeys to Tehran to get his daughter's damaged hearing aid fixed, though the exorbitant repair costs provides additional headache. But he stumbles upon the motorcycle taxi business in the city by accident, and discovers it pays quite handsomely. Before you can say "opportunity", he's already on to it, and in a short span of time made a lot more money than he could have imagined, meeting with a myriad of characters, and with the cash, stocking up his home with material wealth. This segment of the story was made quite enjoyable by Karim's customers, some of whom are good to him, while others seek some incredible ways to exploit.

There's a sense of measured hysteria toward the end, but I had felt it was somewhat a statement made on how the ambitions stemming from opportunity would have presented an avenue for misguided corruption, as well as the failure to see the finer things in life that mattered a lot more. The son portrays the wishes of the common folk, in wanting to seek out their interest and a better life quite off tangent with the father figure of authority, who continues to punish his son and his friends, and discouraging them from pursuing their now broken dreams, which involved quiet determination in wanting to take over and clean up a filthy water storage tank for fish rearing and profit. The patriarch figure determines and dictates what can, or cannot be done, and doesn't hesitate to use a little violence to slap his orders across.

From success to loss, the final arc was one of the most colourful, and filled with some picture perfect imagery that would leave you spellbound, especially the scene with the hundreds of goldfish flapping around in need for water. Majid Madjidi once again crafted a film that will leave you reflecting upon the layers and messages hidden behind a film which came across as deceptively simple, on one level seeking to entertain, and on another a probable commentary of life hidden underneath the simplistic veneer.
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Tears and smiles and ostrich eggs
Chris Knipp23 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
'The Song of Sparrows' is at once a beautifully humanistic film in the tradition of Italian neorealism, and an aimless ramble whose perceived themes and moral lessons are hard to decode. The protagonist, Karim (Reza Naji), lives somewhere a motorcycle ride away from Tehran with his wife and three children. Karim is an industrious bumpkin, essentially goodhearted but given to moments of meanness and rage. He gets fired from his job as an ostrich wrangler when during a move of the ostriches to another pen, while he's screaming at the men who're trying to help him, one of the big birds escapes. In one of the film's arresting sequences partly shot from a great distance, he wanders high up in the hills disguised as an ostrich, trying, in vain, to lure back the wayward bird.

One thing leads to another. Karim's deaf older daughter Haniyeh (Shabnam Akhlaghi) drops her hearing aid into the dank storage tank water where his son is playing and it won't work. And so, without money, he goes to Tehran to repair the hearing aid. A man jumps on the back of his motorcycle and gives directions and before he knows it he's one of the city's legion of cycle taxi drivers transporting men and merchandise around town and receiving what for him seem enormous sums for this work.

A series of little vignettes of riders follows. People give him things they consider junk that he thinks are better than what he has at home -- a blue door, and a TV aerial more sophisticated than his neighbors'. He starts an accumulation of this stuff. Some of the men cheat him. Others give him bonuses. All are loud and self-absorbed.

Reza Naji, a regular in Majidi's films, looks like a bedraggled version of Judd Hirsh or the Forties and Fifties Hollywood regular William Bendix. He alternates between moments of taciturnity and hysterical screaming, the latter often directed at his little boy Hussein (Hamed Aghazi), whose entrepreneurial efforts with the storage tank (he and a handful of identical looking boys plan to turn it into a fish farm) he strongly disapproves of, presumably out of pride and a will to dominate. He also brings his gentle, sweet-natured (and generally passive) wife Narges (Maryam Akbari) to tears by violently taking back the blue door when she's given it to a friend. This occasions another of the film's memorable images: Karim carrying the blue door back home across the barren country landscape, seen from high above. He quietly soothes his wife and eases her tears. He's a kind father after his fashion but much of the time his face expresses only blank weariness.

Some viewers interpret the story as a contrast of corrupt city and honest country and see Karim as being tempted into misbehavior by the luxuries of Tehran, but that is an exaggeration. He continues his dogged, not very smart striving from first to last and never stints in his sometimes harsh, sometimes kind, efforts to be a good father to his family. The movie does convey a sense of the prosperity (and ugliness) of Iran's crowded capital. There are well-dressed men constantly on their cell phones rushing around with wads of cash. One of them is moving into a large house and makes Karim carry things. Later Karim is part of a caravan of several dozen motorcyclists sent from a warehouse carrying new appliances and gets lost from the group. He takes the fridge he's been assigned home and later returns with it and tries to sell it.

Some are seduced by the cinematography and it has its moments. What's more engaging is the specificity of the incidents. You learn about motorcycle taxis, and how to move an ostrich (you blindfold it and push it backwards). Judging by the uplifting tone of earlier Majidi films (all shown in the US) like 'Children of Heaven,' 'The Color of Paradise,' 'Baran,' and 'The Willow Tree,' the director is concerned with faith (and the loss of it) but also with social realism, mostly focusing on the poor and the discriminated against but with occasional looks at the middle class.

An accident involving the big pile of junk Karim has collected puts him out of commission and may restore his equilibrium. At least it keeps him at home. Haniyeh's hearing aid seems to have gone back to working on its own. Earlier, Hussein and his buddies succeed in buying a giant plastic "bucket" (the subtitles aren't very good) full of goldfish for the storage tank, which they've cleaned up. But the "bucket" breaks and the boys lose all their fish. The film's most touching scene comes when the boys are crying in the back of a truck and Karim sings a fatalistic, but also funny, song that makes all their tears turn to smiles. It's a totally sentimental moment that I was utterly powerless to resist.
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listen to the song of sparrows
jaafarmkd23 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
another great film from great Majid Majidi. those people who live in Iran can deeply feel the atmosphere of the this film Karim is a symbol of humankind and birds are messengers of god. their appearance each time reminds Karim the fact of his life.every time we hear the sound of sparrows Karim is making a decision and god wants to help him to make the best. it seems that no one else can do this. in this film ostrich is a symbol of Karim and so a symbol of human. ostrich is like birds but can not fly ,so as Karim. he wants to be bad but he cant. some of the shots taken from above seem to be from the gods point of view. for example when Karim goes through a burned field with a blue door on his back, a door to sky, or when he searches for the lost bird. the music from Alizadeh is excellent and really impressive and fits the scenes. it's all about humanity...
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Beautiful Human Drama
billcr123 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The Song of Sparrows is a simple film about Karim, an uncomplicated man who is a caretaker of ostriches on a farm. One day, one of the birds escapes and Karim is fired. He rides his motorbike to the city in order to get his daughter's hearing aid repaired. Someone mistakes him for a taxi, and he discovers a new way to make money. The problem is that the passengers are mostly rude and nasty to the good natured guy, and it sours his outlook on humanity.

He also becomes a pack rat, picking up all kinds of junk on his daily travels on the "taxi" bike. The stuff piles up, much to the consternation of his wife. He fights with the neighbor over an old, used door that they have borrowed, demanding it back. He loses his temper, and during a rampage, breaks his foot. He must then rely on the kindness of others because he is bound to a bed while his leg heals. The Song of Sparrows is a beautiful movie with excellent performances all around.
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A movie worth watching For splendid acting and Good narration
hareendranep6 August 2012
This movie underlines the fact that a movie belongs to the director, How he treats the theme and narrate the story. This movie is about a very ordinary man living in the outskirts of Teharan, Finding it very difficult of get the income sufficient for the family, But happily living with them.The struggle of a common man is beautifully enacted by Mohammed amir Naji. He really deserve an applause for his splendid performance throughout the movie.All other characters in the family also given very good performance.

The first few minutes of the movie is in a ostrich farm where the protagonist is working. Those who have not seen ostriches in real life this is visual treat. Similar is the way in which two wheeler's are used as Taxi in Tehran.The silence of Desert is beautifully captured in this movie. The background music is also very apt. Overall this movie is a pleasant experience , thanks to the care taken by majid majidi in each scene.
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The Song Of Sparrows is a decent showcase of the richness of Iranian cinema.
Eternality12 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A Golden Bear nominee of the Berlin International Film Festival, The Song Of Sparrows is Majid Majidi's first entry into a film festival of such prestige. The Iranian director of critically-acclaimed films such as The Children Of Heaven (1997) and The Color Of Paradise (1999) directs another praiseworthy picture, though I regard this as a less than stellar effort as compared to his best works.

Majidi directs Mohammed Amir Naji to a Best Actor win and deservedly so because his portrayal of the lead character, Karim, is remarkably and convincingly natural. He plays the father of a relatively poor family who loses his job as a worker in an ostrich farm. He has a deaf daughter whose hearing aid is damaged after she dropped it in a water storage tank. Struggling to make ends meet as well as promising her daughter a new hearing aid to help her to cope with the coming exams, Karim goes out into the city to find temporary jobs in his old but dependable motorcycle.

The Song Of Sparrows centers on Karim and uses him as a lens to reveal the two different ways of life inherent in Iran's increasingly urbanized setting – the tight-knitted rural community and the fragmented urban society. In the latter, the pace is fast and at times unsettling. Everyone is in a rush and this forces Karim to adopt a more pragmatic approach to earn a living – offering rides to anyone to anywhere in the city and allow them to pay him any amount they like.

Occasionally, he does the odd job of delivering goods. In one instance, he loses his way and is forced to bring home a small refrigerator for the night. This 'expensive foreign object' causes excitement in the household because they have never seen anything like it before. Majidi, once again, highlights the urbanization, or more precisely, the dawn of urbanization which may change the rural way of life within the next decade or so in Iran.

The conservative and overly protective Karim suffers a serious injury which renders him immobile for quite some time. This frees his children, especially his driven son to chase his own dreams – to rear fishes in the water storage tank and sell them to become a millionaire. Reality says that his dream is improbable because the construct of Iran's society is such that it is impossibly difficult to succeed with a low-class background.

In a brilliant metaphor which describes the harshness of this reality, Majidi directs a scene which shows Karim's son and his friends frantically carrying a heavily leaking barrel containing many live fishes to safety only to trip and fall and see their 'dream' spill away onto the pavement. The Song Of Sparrows features a beautiful score by Hossien Alizadeh, and some impressive cinematography juxtaposing the quiet isolation of rural life and the hustle and bustle of urbanity. It is at times heartwarming, but for a Majidi film, it slightly lacks in emotion and the climax is not as powerful as intended. Nevertheless, The Song Of Sparrows is a decent showcase of the richness of Iranian cinema.

SCORE: 7.5/10 ( All rights reserved!
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