The Cow

I wrongly assumed that this venerated 1969 film, a founding gesture of the Iranian new wave, would be humanist and sentimental. In fact, Dariush Mehrjui’s second feature, written with the late playwright Gholam-Hossein Saedi and shot in stark black and white, is a cruel allegory whose meanings are far from obvious. The owner (Ezzatolah Entezami) of the only cow in a village that’s terrified of potential invaders goes mad and comes to believe he’s a cow after the animal dies for unexplained reasons during his brief absence from home. Ultimately this is a film more about community and scapegoating than about aberrant individualityfull of dark implications, powerfully acted, and graced by a striking modernist score. 100 min. In Farsi with subtitles. (JR)

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