Director:  Masoud Kimiai
Year:  1969
Rating: 7.5

Country: Iran

Aka - Qeysar

The chances of coming across an Iranian film from the 1960's is pretty slim these days  - so when I saw this floating up on the Internet I grabbed it. It turns out that it was a landmark film in the career of director Masoud Kimiai and ushered in a new style of gritty realistic filmmaking and the anti-hero genre, the tough guy who gives up his life, breaks the law, breaks with his family to do what he thinks is the right thing.  Shot in grainy black and white in the back streets and every day establishments of Tehran it has a Scorsese feel to it - Mean Streets but it was shot a few years before that. The actor who plays the protagonist - Behrouz Vossoughi - has a little Delon and a little De Niro in him - soft and hard - mainly hard. It is a terrific performance and it made him a star.

When a tight-knit's family daughter kills herself, it tears them apart especially when they read a note she left behind. I am pregnant, I was raped by Mansour when I visited his sister. The note is a stick of dynamite, a dagger that needs to find a welcome heart. The girl's brother Farman, who is like a walking cinder block with a high black hat on goes looking for justice - the uncle tells him to leave the knife behind - you have committed yourself to God and peace - he does much to his own tragedy as Mansour and his two brothers stab him to death and drag his corpse to the roof. But everyone was saying we have to clean this up before the younger brother, Gheisar, gets home from a trip he is on. He is the crazy one. Not so crazy but you don't bring dishonor on his sister and kill his brother without retribution to be paid.

The film is more than just a revenge film though - it delves into religion, into family, into his obligation to his fiancée and to his mother. She has lost two children - he is all she has left. He fights with his conscience, his sense of guilt, of knowing he is committing a sin but honor for the family has to be dealt with. Director Kimiai not only takes his camera out onto the streets in guerilla style but has a few great scenes set up - one killing takes place in a bath house which is this rundown place with white tiled floors, men sitting about having their backs scrubbed by attendants and little shower places where the business can be conducted - another in a slaughter house where as the killing takes places cows are being carved up - a nightclub scene that would clearly be forbidden today where men leer at the singer in her short dress, wiggling hips and lyrics that spell out her intentions - "my price is high, if you don't have the money buzz off" and past their prime female prostitutes sit about looking for deep pockets and lust. Who knows how many of these films from that period have survived through the Revolution - but I hope some of them have.