The 1997 film Children Of Heaven is a beautiful movie about an ordinary poor family in Tehran, Iran. It has no political agenda. Watching it may give you a different perspective on people who many Americans view as nothing more than “enemies”.
Children of Heaven revolves around a lost pair of shoes, and the adventures of two kids trying to get them back. A middle-school boy named Ali has been given the task to bring his younger sister’s shoes to be repaired by the local cobbler. Through a series of mishaps he ends up losing them on the way home.
The kids do not want to tell their father since they know he is too poor to buy a new pair. The brother and sister (Zahra) end up secretly sharing one pair of sneakers between them while desperately searching for the lost shoes
What makes this film so beautiful is that it is not played for pathos. Children of Heaven is not about how poor the family is. The film is about a loving family that cares for each other despite happening to be poor. Ali’s father is a hard worker and his mother is too ill to work. Despite their problems the family unit remains strong and caring.
Children of Heaven is also about the natural resilience of children. In one scene Ali and Zahra are washing their one pair of sneakers, and begin playing with the soap bubbles. Their laughter and happiness are wonderful to watch.
Children of Heaven also shows parts of Iran that we never see on American T.V. Ali and his father bicycle to the wealthy section of Tehran to look for jobs as gardeners. The houses and gardens shown would be the envy of many rich American suburbanites. There is also a running race in a beautiful park around a huge crystal clear lake.
In 1997, Children of Heaven was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film . (The first Iranian film to earn that honor). It came in second to the Italian film Life Is Good. The acting in the film is perfect. Mir Farrokh Hashemian is Ali and Resa Naji is the little sister. It never feels like they are acting. It seems as if you are truly watching the everyday life of kids. Bahare Seddiqi is the hard working, but not too bright father, and Fereshteh Sarabandi is the loving mother.
Director Majid Majidi made Children Of Heaven for only $180,000. He filmed the movie surreptitiously in Tehran so that he could get natural shots of everyday street and crowd scenes.
We found Children of Heaven a pleasure to watch and give it our highest rating.
- We rate Children Of Heaven Five Stars *****
- Be sure to read all our Movie reviews
- For another great Iranian Film, read our review of A Separation.
- For an new view of Afghanistan read our review of the book The Honey Thief.