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Cinematic Portrayal of Women in Iran - Essay Example

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Women in Iran The Iranian revolution in the 70’s has not only changed the media-driven image of Iranian society but has had a relatively larger impact on the image of women that depict them as suppressed and shackled by Islamic fundamentalism. …
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Cinematic Portrayal of Women in Iran
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Download file to see previous pages From the Shah’s modernization to Khomeini’s Islamization, the role of women has been equally affected by both of these political stances. However, the resilience of Iranian women and the progressive nature of the Iranian youth have played a huge role in establishing the symbiosis between traditionalism and modernity in the contemporary society. Changes in the gender role have been inevitable as the number of cultural and constitutional inequalities disturbing the social fabric of Iran keep on increasing. The role of women in the Iranian society has now become a major topic for cultural articulation that translates into their artistry particularly the art of filmmaking that has become a very reliable barometer for the overall progress and social development of Iran through the depiction of women on screen. Filmmaking in Iran has now turned into a non-confrontational mode for people to voice their opinions and shed light on the plight of women; however, filmmaking hadn’t always been about the oppression of women in the society. Iranian cinema has produced some highlysuccessful movies that often depicted women in typical roles of a mother, wife or sister and vastly the content described everyday struggles of a woman on a domestic front. Since the actual role of women in the society was principally restricted to their homes, in such circumstances films like “Dokhtar-e-Lor” that followed the life of a gypsy woman were botha novel concept and a huge success on the box office. (Lahji, 2002) However, the cinematic advancement was short-lived and after the Islamic revolution women became completely absent from the filmmaking sphere due to the law that required all women to observe Islamic attire that required them to wear a veil. Subsequent legislations also barred women from appearing in public unaccompanied, which meant that their participation in the entire society had been greatly overshadowed by patriarchy. During this time the role of women became marginalized and the movies then followed the affairs of men and subsequently, attracted negative attention from the western media that had established strict stereotypes against Iranians and the Muslim population in general. (Dabashi&Mahani, 2001) The cinema of Iran can be trichotomized into three significant events: the post-revolution period that focuses on marginalization of women and the break out of war between Iran and Iraq, then the reconstruction period and then finally Khatami’s presidency. From the year 1979 to 1984 there was a total of 40 movies that were released, out of which 29 movies were based on the feudal system and the tyrannical rule of the Shah that were particularly focused on the immorality of aristocracy and westernization. The remaining movies followed simplistic plots and carried messages regarding drug abuse, crimes and familial drama.(Dabashi&Mahani, 2001 &Lahiji, 2002)) As mentioned earlier, the movies scarcely had a female lead and even if there were any female characters then they hardly had any dialogues and were that of a silent mother or a bickering wife; the characters were covered from head to toe and ironically enough the woman’s character cannot make an appearance in the movie without the presence of her husband’s character.The work of notable filmmakers such as BahramBaizai and DaruishMehrjui that featured a headstrong female lead in all their plots were banned from being screened; two of Baizai’s movies titled “The ballad of Tara” and “Death of Yazdgerd” remains banned to this day. (Rohani, 1996) The strict legislation against the female segment of population did not provide sufficient themes for ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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