Help Us Keep Reporting. Donate to Detroit Metro Times.

Wednesday, October 25, 2000

For dear life

A corner of pain ignored by the new world order.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 25, 2000 at 12:00 AM

A Time For Drunken Horses is a poetic but somewhat misleading title. Writer-director Bahman Ghobadi is referring to mules used by smugglers who put alcohol in their drinking water to help them stay warm during the snowy trek between Iran and Iraq. Joining this illegal caravan — with the inherent danger of border patrols and the unscrupulous smugglers themselves — is one of the few sources of income available to the Iranian Kurdish community. While Ghobadi has created a potent time capsule of suffering caused by war (farmers can’t cultivate fields full of land mines) and sanctions (which create the black market), the heart of this quietly devastating film is an orphaned family.

Ayoub (Ayoub Ahmadi) is barely into his teens, but he’s the caretaker of four siblings. He’s closest to his precocious sister, Amaneh (Amaneh Ekhtiar-Dini), a promising student who helps care for their brother, a dwarf with serious medical problems. The family rallies around a cause — getting their ailing sibling an operation — even though it may just be an exercise in futility. For these children, “the future” doesn’t consist of abstract promises, it merely means tomorrow, and they will sacrifice anything in order to alleviate the suffering of one. Their quiet determination and dignity are reflected in the beautiful simplicity of Ghobadi’s visual style.

There’s nothing flashy about A Time For Drunken Horses; it’s just storytelling at its unvarnished best. Ghobadi embraces neorealism as not just a style but a social construct. As with Italian filmmakers chronicling the effects of World War II, the subject here is poor people struggling to survive amid political upheaval.

For Eurocentric American audiences, this film also offers an important view of a culture which has rarely been portrayed beyond simplistic stereotypes. It reminds us why foreign-language movies — and a truly world cinema — still matter.

Opens Friday exclusively at the Star Gratiot (Gratiot at 15 Mile Rd.), as part of the Shooting Gallery film series. Call 810-791-5427.

Serena Donadoni writes about film and culture for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

May 27, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2020 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation