گذشته / Menneisyys / Det förflutna. FR/IT © 2013 Memento Film Production / FR3 – France 3 Cinéma / BIM Distribuzione / Alvy Distribution / CN3 Productions. P: Alexandre Mallet-Guy. D: Asghar Farhadi. SC: Asghar Farhadi, Massoumeh Lahidji. DP: Mahmoud Kalari – digital – Arri Alexa, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses – colour – 1,85:1 – distribution: DCP. PD: Claude Lenoir. Makeup: Lucia Bretones-Méndez. Hair: Fulvio Pozzobon. M: Evgueni Galperine, Youli Galperine. S: Thomas Desjonquères. ED: Juliette Welfling. C: Bérénice Bejo (Marie Brisson), Tahar Rahim (Samir), Ali Mosaffa (Ahmad), Pauline Burlet (Lucie), Elyes Aguis (Fouad), Jeanne Jestin (Léa), Sabrina Ouazani (Naïma). Loc: Paris. Original in French. Helsinki premiere: 29.11.2013, distributor: Cinema Mondo, suom. tekstit / svensk text Outi Kainulainen / Markus Karjalainen – dvd: 2014 Scanbox – MEKU K7 – 130 min
2K DCP from Cinema Mondo
Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (French Summer), 10 Aug 2016
Wikipedia synopsis: "Ahmad, an Iranian man, returns to France after four years to finalise his divorce with his wife Marie. On the way to her home, he learns that she has begun a relationship with Samir, the owner of a dry cleaning service and he is to share a room with his son Fouad. At Marie's request, he speaks to her daughter from a previous marriage, Lucie, regarding her recent troubled behavior. She disapproves of Marie's new relationship."
"Ahmad and Marie attend court to complete their divorce. Just before the meeting with the officials, she tells him that she is pregnant with Samir's child. Ahmad continues to counsel Lucie, hoping to reconcile her to the situation. She reveals that Samir is still married and his wife is in coma after a suicide attempt, caused by the revelation that Samir and Marie were conducting an affair. Samir tells Ahmad that his wife suffered from depression and the suicide attempt was in fact caused by an incident with a customer in his shop. His wife was unaware of his affair and he arranges for his employee, who witnessed both the suicide attempt and the incident in the shop, to meet with Lucie. After hearing her story, Lucie becomes distressed and confesses that she forwarded Marie's emails to Samir's wife the day before she tried to kill herself, after calling her at the dry cleaning shop. She disappears and Ahmad and Samir search for her. Ahmad finds Lucie, who has been staying with a friend, and tries to convince her to tell Marie what she did, saying that she had a right to know, now that she is carrying Samir's child. Lucie does so and Marie becomes enraged, telling Lucie to leave. Ahmad calms the situation and Lucie returns."
"After questioning what feelings he may still hold for his wife, Marie tells Samir what Lucie did. Samir finds this hard to accept and questions his employee, Naïma, about the events leading up his wife's suicide attempt, who states his wife wasn't even in the shop the day that Lucie said she called. After Marie accuses Lucie of lying, Lucie maintains her version of events saying that she spoke to a woman with an accent on the phone. Samir realizes that she actually spoke to Naïma, who then gave Lucie his wife's email address. He confronts Naïma, who confesses and explains that his wife had always been jealous of her and had been trying to get her either sacked or deported from France and had initiated the confrontation with the customer. However, Naïma believes that his wife never read the emails, because she came into the shop and choose to drank bleach in front of her, instead of in front of Samir or Marie."
"Samir and Marie discuss the events and their relationship. Marie decides that they should focus on their future, while Samir appears conflicted. Ahmad prepares to return to Iran. He says farewell to the children and attempts to talk to Marie about the end of their marriage, but Marie does not let him stating that she doesn't need to know such things now. Meanwhile, Samir visits his wife in hospital with a selection of perfumes, which the doctors have recommended in order to possibly initiate a response. He sprays on some of his cologne and leans over her, asking her to squeeze his hand if she can smell it. A tear runs down her face and he looks down at her hand, which is holding his."
AA: I found Asghar Farhadi's A Separation (2011) a masterpiece immediately. Yet I saw Farhadi's next film The Past first now, perhaps because of reserved reactions by people I know.
The Past is more plot-driven than A Separation, and it proceeds as a series of revelations where we keep learning things that fundamentally change everything we believed we knew. The film is very well made. Its general sense is about the precariousness of life: how little we know. This has also a distanciating and alienating effect to the characters and the film itself, but not in a Brechtian sense.
A hallmark of the Iranian cinema is the strong presence of children, and that is a strength of The Past, as well. All the children – Léa, Fouad, Lucie – are important, individual, and interesting. The young actors are brilliant. The grown-ups have made a mess of their lives. I bambini ci guardano. These children are disturbed, and we feel concerned for their need of a basic security.
My main problem with The Past is about what sense we should make of Marie. Either her character is underdeveloped – or the viewpoint of the director on her is underdeveloped. Marie's grip on life is not very good, but what should we make of that?
My verdict: The Past is imperfect. But I look forward to seeing all films by Farhadi, one of the most distinguished directors working today.
The Past is the first Farhadi film that has been shot digitally. It is largely a chamber piece where the digital is perfect in interiors. Exteriors look ultra sharp in a digital kind of way.
P.S. 14 Aug 2016. Douglas Sirk: "I am extremely interested in the contrast between children and adults: there is a world looking at another world which is going downhill, but this new world does not yet know if its own fate will be the same... The look of a child is always fascinating. It seems to be saying: is that what fate has in store for me, too?" Jon Halliday: Sirk on Sirk. London: Secker & Warburg with the British Film Institute, 1971, p. 107
OUR PROGRAM NOTE BASED ON KENNETH TURAN AND PRESS KIT MATERIAL:
OUR PROGRAM NOTE BASED ON KENNETH TURAN AND PRESS KIT MATERIAL:
Elokuvassaan Nader ja Simin: ero iranilainen käsikirjoittaja-ohjaaja Asghar Farhadi osoitti omaavansa intohimoisen draaman tajua ja kykyä kiihkeiden emotionaalisten tilanteiden realistiseen kuvaukseen. Näitä lahjojaan hän käyttää täysimittaisesti myös elokuvassaan Menneisyys.
Koska Menneisyys sijoittuu Ranskaan eikä Iraniin, siinä ei ole sitä uskonnollis-poliittista kerrostuneisuutta, joka teki Naderista ja Siministä niin huomattavan tapauksen, että se voitti parhaan ulkomaisen elokuvan Oscarin ja yli 70 muuta kansainvälistä palkintoa. Mutta Menneisyys on väkevä elokuva omilla ehdoillaan.
Kun iranilaismies palaa Ranskaan myöntämään vaimolleen tämän toivoman avioeron seuraukset ovat järisyttävät. Menneisyys on sekä perhemelodraama että hienosyinen ihmissuhdepalapeli. Mitä varmempi katsoja on siitä, että hän on ymmärtänyt totuuden, sitä todennäköisempää on, että hän erehtyy. Menneisyys on niin täynnä puolitotuuksia, väistöliikkeitä, epäilyksiä, olettamuksia, syytöksiä ja väärinkäsityksiä, että nimeksi sopisi Salaisuuksia ja valheita, ellei Mike Leigh olisi käyttänyt sitä jo.
Menneisyys osoittaa myös, että juoni, joka on täynnä yllätyksiä ja yhteensattumia, voi olla hyvin tehokas, kun dynaamisella ohjaajalla on loistava näyttelijäkunta. Pääosassa on Bérénice Bojo, herkempänä ja hauraampana kuin The Artistin säkenöivänä Peppynä, mutta niin vakuuttava Mariena, naisena, joka yrittää ylläpitää tasapainoa elämässään, että hän sai Cannesissa työstään parhaan näyttelijättären palkinnon.
Marie ei ole nähnyt neljään vuoteen aviomiestään Ahmadia (iranilainen Ali Mosaffa tulkitsee osan ranskaksi), ja Farhadi ohjaa heidän jälleenkohtaamisensa vaikuttavasti. Olemme tulolentojen osastolla Pariisissa, ja vaikka pariskunta näkee toisensa lasin läpi, he eivät kuule toisiaan. Vertauskuva suhteelle, joka on sekä läheinen että kaukainen.
Vaikka Ahmad on saapunut Marien pyynnöstä, tämä ei merkitse, että heidän kohtalonaan olisi jatkaa yhdessä. Tuntuu melkein kuin he jatkaisivat riitaa siitä, mihin se katkesi vuosia sitten. Ahmad ja Marie iskevät toistensa herkkiin kohtiin tavalla, johon vain intiimit muukalaiset kykenevät.
Käy ilmi, että Ahmad on Marien toinen aviomies. Mariella on kaksi tytärtä ensimmäisestä avioliitos-taan, ja Ahmad on ollut selvästikin todellinen isähahmo molemmille, varsinkin Lucielle, vanhemmalle. Nyt Marie ja 16-vuotias Lucie (säteilevä nuori belgiatar Pauline Burlet) ovat aina toistensa kimpussa. Voisiko Ahmad jutella Lucien kanssa?
Ahmad suostuu ilman muuta, mutta Menneisyyden erikoispiirteisiin kuuluu, että vaikka Ahmad on tavallisesti järkevä ja rauhoittava hahmo, nyt hänen läsnäolostaan tulee tahaton katalysaattori sille, että helvetti pääsee irti.
Yksi niistä asioista, joita Marie ei kerro Ahmadille, ainakaan heti, on se, että syy hänen avioerotoi-veeseensa on vakava suhde Samirin kanssa (Profeetan Tahar Rahim). Samirilla on omastakin takaa kriisejä käsiteltävinään, niin suuria, että hän tuntuu olevan hukkumaisillaan omaan elämäänsä.
Kun salaisuudet, joita itse kukin yrittää kätkeä, tulevat päivänvaloon hitaasti mutta vääjäämättömästi, Farhadin ohjaajan vahvuudet korostuvat. Hän tietää tarkasti, miten kukin kohtaus on näyteltävä ja tuo vilpittömyyttä ja ehdotonta sitoutumista juoneen, joka voisi olla toisen käsissä keinotekoinen.
Elokuvassa riittää jännitystä ja juonenkäänteitä, mutta Menneisyys käsittelee myös isompia kysymyksiä kuten vaikeutta löytää totuus tietyssä tilanteessa. Me haluamme nähdä ja uskoa sen mitä me haluamme nähdä ja uskoa. Siksi monimutkaisessa tilanteessa voimme käsittää kaiken väärin, vaikka aikomuksemme olisivat kaikista parhaimmat.
– Kenneth Turanin mukaan (Los Angeles Times 19.12.2013) AA 10.8.2016
FROM THE PRESS KIT:
INTERVIEW WITH ASGHAR FARHADI
Between A SEPARATION and THE PAST, you worked on
another film project. What happened?
I did write another script after ABOUT ELLY, while I was
staying in Berlin. Then I shot A SEPARATION and my
French distributor, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, asked if he could
read that script. He liked it and said he wanted to produce
the film, either in Germany or in France. After a few trips,
I chose Paris and started working on the project. One day,
we were in a café, talking about it and all of a sudden, I
said I had another story in mind. It was only a synopsis but
as I started telling the story, I realized something was taking
shape and developing. Another narrative was coming
to me. So we gradually shifted to this story, I developed it
and quickly had a treatment ready. That’s how THE PAST
was born. Being in Paris meant a lot. When you want to tell
a story dealing with the past, you need to set it in a city like
Paris that exudes the past. This story couldn’t have taken
place just anywhere.
But historic Paris is not shown in the film…
I was very careful not to abuse the historic aspect of the
architecture of Paris and not to have a touristic approach
to it. I decided at a very early stage that the main character’s
home, in which a great part of the film takes place,
would be in the suburbs and Paris would appear in the
background, taken for granted. The pitfall for filmmakers
working in an unknown setting is to highlight in the film
the first things that catch their eye. I tried to do the oppo-
site. Since I was fascinated by the architecture of the city,
I decided to look beyond that and reach something else.
What’s the writing process like? How do you build the
All my stories are written in a non-linear way. They don’t
go from point A to point B. I always have several stories
developing simultaneously and they come together
during a shared situation. Here, I had the story of this
man who’s been living away from his wife for a few years
and now is traveling back to her to finalize their divorce.
Then, I had the story of a man with a wife in a coma who
has to take care of his child. These are elements that
expand separately then converge to a single situation. I
write intuitively. I start with a synopsis and immediately
question it, trying to find out more about the little information
that I have. Since I know that this man has come
to get a divorce, I ask myself why he left four years ago?
And now that he has returned to his wife’s house, what is
going to happen there? So many questions emerge from
these few lines that by answering them the whole story
In what way did the observation of the French way of
life influence the script?
I did a lot of thinking about the differences. What would have
been different if the story took place in Iran? In my films,
the characters express themselves indirectly. It’s part of my
culture but I also use it as a dramatic resource. That
is less of a custom in France. Of course, it depends
on the context, but generally speaking, the French are
more straightforward. So I had to adapt the development
of my French characters to that new parameter,
which wasn’t easy and took time in my writing process.
Curiously, the Iranian character is the one that
pushes the others to speak…
He’s a kind of a catalyst. He puts the others in a condition
for speaking, for saying things that had remained
unsaid for a long time. But he’s not even aware of it.
One of my guidelines was not to define my characters
by their nationality or their flag. Their behavior is determined
by the situation they are experiencing. In a crisis
situation, differences tend to disappear.
One of your actors says the idea of the film was
triggered by your visit to a person in a coma...
That’s not how things happened. I went to visit patients
in a coma to prepare the film. I’ve never had
any personal experience with a coma, but I’ve always
associated this state with a sense of uncertainty, an
interspace between life and death, wondering if the
person should be considered dead or alive. Here the
film is entirely built on this notion of doubt. The characters
constantly have to face dilemmas, having to
choose between two options. In A SEPARATION too,
the character had to face the common but difficult
dilemma between his father’s well-being and his
daughter’s. In THE PAST, the question is slightly different:
should one be faithful to the past or give it up and
move on to the future?
Does the complexity of today’s life increase these
Probably. One tends to consider the future blurred because
it’s unknown. But I think the past is even more unclear and
opaque. It should feel clearer and closer to us now, as we
keep traces from it. But photos and emails don’t help our
past get any clearer. Nowadays, life may tend to move
on, neglecting the past. But its shadow weighs on us and
holds us back. It seems to be as true in Europe as it is in
the rest of the world, that no matter how determined you
are to embrace the future, the weight of the past is still
heavy on our minds.
How did you choose Bérénice Béjo ?
I first met her during a trip to the US, where she was promoting
THE ARTIST. I immediately found her warm and genuine.
One of those people you feel you can connect to. Her performance
in THE ARTIST confirmed for me that she was also
an intelligent actress. These two personality traits must be
present in an actor for me to choose them: being smart and
exuding a positive energy on the screen, someone appealing
with whom the viewers enjoy spending time.
She said that you were looking for something in
her face on the first day of the rehearsals. What
Doubt, which is central to Marie’s character. Bérénice
herself doesn’t doubt very much. But at an early stage
of the rehearsals, she proved that she was able to perform
Marie’s character is the one that provokes situations,
that makes things move forward…
She is the one who is the most determined to move on
and not to be stuck in the past. But who knows if she’ll
be able to do it? Men are more burdened by the past. In
the last scene with Marie, she walks towards us, towards
the camera. Ahmad is behind her and she says: "I don’t
want to look back anymore." And then she turns her back
to the camera, and to us the viewers. She also leaves us
behind. To that extent, she can be considered as the most
progressive character. Who knows why in all my films,
women have these kind of roles. Like in A SEPARATION.
What are Tahar Rahim’s qualities?
I saw A PROPHET in Iran and I immediately knew that he
was an exceptional actor with a wide range of performing
skills that allowed him to take on very complex roles. I
decided to work with him. One of his particular traits that
I really appreciated during our collaboration was how
connected he is with his childhood. The emotions and the
reactions related to childhood are still vivid in him.
How did you choose Ali Mosaffa?
He has something specific as an actor and no doubt also
as a man: something self-retained appears on his face, in
his way of being. He gives the impression of being a man
who has a rich inner life that he exposes very little. He is
the kind of person who draws others to him. We want to
know more about him. This trait was woven into the character
because Ali was chosen. In reality, we had to find a
professional Iranian actor who could speak French, which
limited our options. Once we chose him, I wasn’t quite
sure if a few weeks of preparation would be enough for
him to actually master the language. But everyone who
witnessed his progress in French between his arrival in
Paris and the first day of shooting was very impressed.
In one of the versions of the script, Ahmad had
something to do with cinema, as if he was also
the one who’d write the other characters’ lines…
In one of the earlier versions of the script, I imagined his job
may be related to cinema but then I realized I didn’t want
him to have a specific job. I wanted nothing specific to be
known about him. We had to feel curious about him, wishing
to find out more. But he’s not given the opportunity to deliver
more information about himself. Even when he attempts to
justify his return to Iran, his partner in the scene doesn’t let
him do so. He may be a filmmaker, a documentary maker, a
photographer… not knowing leaves all these options open.
I think he has a job which you cannot do well away from
home. This is one of the reasons why he left France.
Is he more intellectual than Samir?
He’s a man who needs to be active. One of those people
who arrive in a place and cannot help fixing things: either
the bike or the sink, or a dinner… They feel uncomfortable
when out of their habitual context because being
elsewhere means being inactive. For Ahmad, standing still
is painful. We then understand why he suffered from
depression when he was forced to undergo this period
How did you direct Pauline, whose role is one of
the pivots of the narrative?
I met many girls of her age before choosing Pauline.
I saw a test that had been shot with her. I immediately
knew that she would bring the right strength to
the role. The key of her performance was her motivation.
Lucie is secretive and reserved, like Ahmad.
Being both introverted gives them a certain closeness.
Pauline herself has something mysterious in the eyes.
In the script, Lucie is not Ahmad’s daughter but I did
want them to give an impression of being related, as
a child with her father. Some kind of complicity. She’s
the one who’s been missing Ahmad the most since he
left. She has not only lost her mother’s husband, she’s
also lost a father.
Truffaut said children can’t lie in film and they give
a different truth from adult actors. Do you share
I have come to the conclusion that I’m not able to
make a film without a child in it. It is difficult to work
with children, though. But I find their presence opens
the atmosphere of the film to affects and emotions
which bring a level of sincerity to it. In my films, children
do not lie, unless they are under the pressure of
Are children both witnesses and victims of the
adults in the film?
One child that nobody sees is the one Marie is
carrying. Even before being born, his or her destiny is
already decided by the others. I wonder what this child
will be told later about his or her past and about what
happened before the birth.
What are the differences between shooting in Iran
and in France?
It wasn’t really different for me. I worked in the same
fashion in both countries. Here there are more means
and cinema is more of an industry. In Iran, cinema is
a convergence of individual creativity, whereas here
creativity is more collective.
The camera was handheld in A SEPARATION and
in this film it is more often still. Why this style
Once the story took shape and I went to see the locations,
I realized this story had to be more steady,
with a camera that would move less, that wouldn’t
communicate a feeling of restlessness. In A SEPARATION,
all the important events took place in the here
and now, in front of the viewer’s eyes. Here the key
events have taken place in the past and we can only
witness their inner consequences on the characters.
The film is more interiorized and therefore more still.
Are you a moralist?
I don’t see myself as a moralist. But I can’t deny that
moral is at stake in this film. You can also choose
a sociological or psychological approach of the film.
But it’s obvious that many situations can be seen under
the moral angle.
ASGHAR FARHADI director and writer
Asghar Farhadi was born in 1972 in Isfahan (Iran).
From a young age, he discovered within himself an
artistic sensibility that led him to study writing and to
immerse himself in the world of theatre and cinema.
After entering the Youth Cinema Society, he continued
his studies at the University of Tehran, from which he
graduated in 1998 with a Masters in Stage Direction.
His output from his ten years of study was prodigious:
he directed six short films and wrote and directed two
series for television.
In 2001, the doors of cinema opened up thanks to
Ebrahim Hatamikia, with whom Asghar Farhadi co-wrote
the script of LOW HEIGHTS (ERTEFAE PAST) (2002), a
chronicle of Southwest Iran that met with critical and
commercial success. Soon afterwards, he wrote and
directed his first feature film, DANCING IN THE DUST
(RAGHSS DAR GHOBAR) (2003), about a man forced to
divorce his wife and to hunt snakes in the desert to repay
his debts to his in-laws. The film won awards at the Fajr
and Moscow International Film Festivals.
A year later, BEAUTIFUL CITY (SHAH-RE ZIBA) (2004)
had similar international success. The film, which
examined the pitfalls of the Iranian judicial system
through the story of a young man sentenced to death,
won awards at the Fajr and Warsaw International Film
In his third film, FIREWORKS WEDNESDAY (CHAHAR
SHANBE SOURI) (2006), Asghar Farhadi followed the
trials and tribulations of a couple through the eyes of
their maid. The film demonstrated the singularity of
Asghar Farhadi’s vision. It was highly praised in Iran
as well as internationally, where it won the awards
for Best Film at the Chicago International Film Festival
and Best Screenplay at the Festival des 3 Continents
ASGHAR FARHADI director and writer in Nantes. This was Asghar Farhadi’s first film to be released theatrically in France, a country that would become increasingly receptive to his work.
A prolific director and scriptwriter, Asghar Farhadi
began to surround himself with a family of actors.
Taraneh Alidoosti played the title role in his next film,
ABOUT ELLY (DARBAREYE ELLY) (2009), which marked
the third time that they had worked together. With its
psychological suspense, the film seduced the critics
and audiences of Iran. The film represented Asghar
Farhadi’s greatest international success to date: he
won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film
Festival and the film won Best Film at the Tribeca Film
Festival. In France, led by an enthusiastic press, the
film had over 100,000 admissions. It was also Iran’s
official submission for Best Foreign Language Film for
the Academy Awards in 2009.
With A SEPARATION (JODAEIYE NADER AZ SIMIN)
(2011), Asghar Farhadi reunited with a number of the
actors from ABOUT ELLY, including Peyman Moadi
(in the role of Nader), Shahab Hosseini (in the role of
Hodjat), and Merila Zarei, who plays Madam Ghahraei,
the teacher of the young Termeh, who is played by
none other than the director’s daughter, Sarina
Farhadi. After winning the most prestigious awards at
the Fajr Festival, A SEPARATION swept the awards at
the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Golden
Bear for Best Film, the Silver Bear for Best Actress
for the ensemble of actresses, the Silver Bear for
Best Actor for the ensemble of actors, as well as the
Ecumenical Jury Prize and the Morgen Post Reader’s
Award. This was only the beginning of a long list of
prizes. The film took over 70 awards internationally,
including the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language
Film, the César for Best Foreign Film, and finally, the
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. A
SEPARATION sold worldwide and was an international
smash success, unprecedented for any Iranian film.
In France, the film had one million admissions, a
historic result. In the United States, where the film
was released in December 2011, the film’s box office
was on par with the most successful foreign language
films ever released in the US.
With THE PAST (2013), Asghar Farhadi shot the film in
France and in the French language. The film stars amongst
others Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa. The
film’s screenplay won the EU Media Prize. THE PAST will
premiere in competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Interview with Mahmoud Kalari cinematographer
As a cinematographer, what is special about working
with Asghar Farhadi?
Working with Asghar Farhadi is always a thrill because
there are many unknown factors. It’s a very spontaneous
method of filming with a lot of last minute
decisions, which are by nature hard to predict. I find
that to be really exciting. Difficult, but exciting. Asghar
Farhadi has one very distinct characteristic: I think he
doesn’t know how to make a bad film. I believe there
is an important reason for that. He immerses himself
in the project and lets emotion drive his decision-making.
For people who are unfamiliar with his process,
it can be difficult, that’s for certain. But if you accept it,
you find yourself constantly discovering, moving from
one surprise to another.
How did you define with Asghar Farhadi what the
look of this film would be?
In A SEPARATION, the camera was entirely handheld
except for three still shots. But you should be aware
that Mr Farhadi is capable of going back on a large part
of what you had previously defined at the last minute.
He does it every time. You may have discussed the
style and the visual nature of the film, but you always
have to be ready for him to change his mind. He does
the same thing with the actors. In the last take, he may
say to them to forget all of the direction and to play the
part in an entirely different way. He does this often. In
the beginning, this film was also meant to be all shot
with a handheld camera. But very quickly, by the end
of the second day, the decision was made to do still
shots. The story itself and the structure of the narrative
persuaded to change our method and find a new form
which we then adopted.
How does Asghar Farhadi behave on set?
He rejects everything that seems artificial or conventional
to him, in terms of composition, lighting, acting,
everything... you can hear him saying to the actors,
"Now you are acting", "That was too cinematic". He
does the same thing when setting up the shot. He’d
say : "It’s overly composed", "the frame looks too
neat", "the lighting is too perfect", "It’s too beautiful, I
don’t want that!" Asghar Farhadi considers that a shot
is just right, according to his ideas, specifically when it
doesn’t respect the established norms. It’s sometimes
difficult for his collaborators to understand this and to
trust him. I believe that the more important thing for
him is coherence between the global conception and,
at the same time, the conception of each sequence.
There are certain chapters in the story that he wanted
to be static, immobile, even heavy. For others, he wanted
lots of movement. Certain sequences are composed
of very short shots, like the last two chapters
we filmed. And there are also long shots mixed in. This
can disturb the homogeneity of the global structure of
the film. But I have to say that he’s a master who has
the artistry to control everything while assuring that
the coherence and the continuity of the film remain
In A SEPARATION, the characters are fleeing from
one another, in The Past, they are often filmed
Indeed, in A Separation , the camera was a sort of narrator,
a third eye who was telling a story. While here,
the camera takes on the point of view of each character.
In this film, the characters get close to each other,
while still maintaining a certain distance from one another.
But they are gathered together in sorts of choral
sequences. And so, Asghar Farhadi has taken on the
way each character views the others and the situation.
And then, there was also something that my team was
constantly talking about here, something they found
both disconcerting and interesting : Mr Farhadi placed
the actors in the most uncomfortable situations and the
most complicated in terms of lighting and setting up the
shot. He would place them in doorframes, which is something
we avoid at all costs in the cinema. There were
two light sources which we were stuck between. These
sort of challenges are what I find so interesting about
this film. Asghar Farhadi seemed to intentionally place
actors in settings that hindered a classically esthetic
process and a traditional way of approaching them.
Mahmoud Kalari was born in Tehran. After having
studied photography in the United States, he entered
the SIGMA agency in Paris with whom he worked
for four years before going back to Iran where he
began his carrier as Director of Photography at the
beginning of the 1980’s.
He worked amongst others with Moshen Makhmalbaf,
Darius Mehrjui, and Jafar Panahi, before starting his
collaboration with Asghar Farhadi on A SEPARATION.
As of today he has been Director of Photography for
more than sixty feature films.