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Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Color of Paradise

This is a "must see" movie for all ages.
"The Color of Paradise" is a fable of a child's innocence and a complex look at faith and humanity.

Visually magnificent and wrenchingly moving, the film tells the story of a boy whose inability to see the world only enhances his ability to feel its powerful forces.

At an institute for blind children in Tehran, parents are arriving to pick up their children for summer vacation. But long after the other children have left with their families, 8-year-old Mohammad is still waiting for his father to show. Mohammad contentedly passes the hours exploring the fertile spring earth at the perimeter of the school grounds. Underneath the damp leaves, he discovers a helpless baby bird. He uses his extraordinary sense of hearing to locate the mother bird's nest and returns the bird to the safety of its home.

Just then, his father Hashem, a widowed coal worker, finally arrives, only to ask one of the teachers if his child could be allowed to stay at the school permanently. Turned down, he begrudgingly agrees to take Mohammad on the journey to their home in the heights of northern Iran.

The landscapes they pass through are harsh, but verdant and spectacular, overwhelming the boy's senses, who is naturally attuned to his surroundings. But this splendor and Mohammad's joy in it, makes no impression on his gloomy father. If anything, it increases his melancholy. The bitter Hashem sees Mohammad as nothing but a burden. For all the adoration Mohammad feels for the world, his father feels equal contempt for the "bad hand" he's been dealt in life.

Arriving at the family farm, Mohammad is lovingly greeted by his two happy-go-lucky sisters and beloved Granny. He is delighted to be in the embrace of his family in this beautiful setting. The days are spent almost in slow-motion, at one with nature, where Mohammad and Granny seem most at home.

They are happy to simply collect eggs from the chicken coop, pick wildflowers in the lush fields and listen to the songs of the many species of birds that make the farm their home. It seems Mohammad and Granny have a spiritual connection. Mohammad, who believes what he feels rather than what he sees, tells his weathered Granny "Your hands are soft and beautiful."

But little Mohammad's peace is threatened when his spiritually blind father fears that the boy will be an obstacle to his hopes to marry a beautiful young woman from a strict Islamic family. Hashem follows through on his selfish plan to ship the boy off to live in another area of the country where he is to become an apprentice to a blind carpenter.

At first Mohammad is devastated to be away from his family and fearful that no one will ever love him because of his blindness. But gradually Mohammad adapts to his new environment. In addition to learning woodworking, he also learns spiritual lessons from his mentor, professing "God is not visible. He is everywhere, you can feel him. You can see with your hands."

But back at the farm, tensions between Granny and Mohammad's father are rising and eventually Granny falls ill. Mohammad's father's plans for remarriage are disrupted and he is forced to face his responsibility to his son.

But is it too late?
Will Hashem act in time to see that his son has truly been touched by the hand of God?

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