Cinema and the Decline of Iranian Village Life: “Khak” by Masoud Kimiai

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University of Arizona
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Mehrak Kamali obtained his BA and MA in sociology at the University of Tehran, Iran, and is currently a PhD student in the Near Eastern Studies Department at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He wrote his MA thesis in the sociology of literature, entitled “Women in Contemporary Persian Novels: A Sociological Review of *Bamdad-e Khomar*.” His research interests include critical and comparative literature. He has published a number of articles in this field in Iranian journals.



Masoud Kimiai is one of the founders of New Wave Cinema in Iran, which gave rise to the production of a number of intellectual artistic movies in last four decades. He began his career in 1966 as the Assistant-Director in the movie Goodbye Tehran (Khodahafez Tehran) by Samoel Khachikian. His first work as a movie director was Come Here Stranger (Biganeh bia), produced in 1966, one year before his most influential work, “Gheisar.” With “Gheisar” Kimiai glorified individual rebellion against social and gender injustice. While rebellion remains the back bone of Kimiai’s work, its individualistic content gradually changes to collective and social substance. “Khak”  is one of his first efforts in showing the social roots of individual problems, and investigating their communal solution. It demonstrates a dialectical relationship between society and the individual in Iran during the critical period after the Shah’s Land Reform of 1963,  in the process of the capitalist transformation of the Iranian rural society.
This paper: 1/ outlines the economic and historical background of the events which are shown in the movie, highlighting their social roots; and 2/ analyzes the socioeconomic objective elements,  and ideological subjective factors in the movie. With regard to the former, I consider the expanding of capitalist productive relations as the main source of social transformation in the Iranian rural society, exemplified through the two interrelated themes of the movie: the disintegration of Baba Sobhan’s family and the decline of Iranian village life. With regard to the latter, I investigate the reception of the movie, and the relationship between producer, film, and viewers in Iran during the 1970s,  taking into account the dominant discourse and ideology of the time.
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