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Forty Years Old
Cold and Warm
by Mehrzad Danesh

Director: Alireza Raeisian; screenwriter: Mostafa Rastegari (based on “Forty Years Old” a novel by Nahid Tabatabaei); run-time: 90 minutes

  Literary adaptation has not been a successful experience in the Iranian cinema. Not only most Iranian films have nothing to do with literature, few adapted films (apart from rare works of Mehrjui and Taqvai) have been worthwhile and some have even failed the purpose of the main story on which their screenplays were based. It will take a long account to scrutinize all causes of this phenomenon, but most film circles and print media have pointed to such factors as lack of trust between filmmakers and writers, inattention to property right in the Iranian society, unwillingness of filmmakers to read novels and their distance form literature, inappropriate financial and economic relations in arts…. Under such circumstances it seems that respect for literary adaptation in the Iranian cinema and taking it seriously should be among priorities of film experts and analysts. If other countries’ cinemas have progressed, most of that progress has been owed to serious interaction between cinema and literature. Such an approach in the Iranian cinema can take it close to that horizon.
Forty Years Old is among few literary adaptations of recent years. Adaptation in this film has been different from some other adaptive Iranian movies. Firstly, unlike most other adaptations which draw on foreign literature (except for films which are based on Houshang Moradi Kermani’s books), the source is a contemporary Iranian novel. Secondly, the adapted story has been combined with one of the most famous ancient Iranian tales from Mowlavi’s Masnavi. Regardless of its success or failure, the idea is, per se, admirable because the director has tried to make a connection between the modern life and ancient knowledge. But has the result been totally successful?
The main story of Forty Years Old has been taken from a namesake book written by Mr. Nahid Tabatabaei whose various works followed a fluent literary style in which narrations are firstly, limited to mentalities of their characters, and secondly, short sentences are employed to provide brief explanations about emotional environment of the story. Avoiding of redundancy and difficult language are major features of literary works of this 52-year-old writer whose academic studies in dramatic literature have greatly helped her literary career. Her books, especially Forty Years Old, had already drawn attention from a number of filmmakers before Alireza Raeisian.

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