Children of Heaven Review. Children of Heaven is a beautiful film that deals with a boy (9) and his sister (7) and their adventures over a lost pair of shoes. The film scores in the simplicity of the plot, executed with supreme performances, art direction and cinematography. The characterisation is wonderful; one can actually empathise with the siblings and their desperation to keep the secret. The chemistry between them can bring tears to your eyes. Majid Majidi has used basic elements of film-making sans glamour or loud background music or other tools of emotional manipulation, to narrate the story. This movie will be loved by one and all.
I lived in Iran when I was younger that the children depicted here. It was also a long time ago (Truman was president). Nevertheless, this was very nostalgic for me. The plot is more than enough to carry this movie and entertain most adults and many pre-adolescents, but I wouldn’t think anyone over 10 or under 30 would be riveted. Young Ali is like many a Hitchcock hero in that the unwanted circumstances he finds himself in are not his fault, but he doesn’t really know that.
“Children” reveals things most Americans think they already know about Iran: Strong patriarchal society, strange mix of high tech and ancient coexisting comfortably, certainly not diverse the way we perceive it. There are some unintended revelations that are refreshing. Strong scholastic discipline among the middle classes, sibling bonding altruism that outstrips natural sibling rivalry, family values that are the equal of any anywhere, but, most beautiful to me, the greenery of the country. This last is not showcased, but all the more surprising because it’s taken for granted. This is a beautiful land. This film should be mandatory viewing for all Department of State and Department of Defense employees and their bosses and their bosses’ bosses.
Neo-realism was the school of cinema developed by the Italians just after World War II. From 1945 to approximately 1954, directors like De Sica, Rossellini and Zampa delivered masterpieces like Open City, Paisan, To Live in Peace, Shoe Shine, The Bicycle Thief, Umberto D and Miracle in Milan. But the Italian (not the World) audiences got tired of seeing poverty and everyday problems and demanded something more sophisticated. Federico Fellini added imagination to the down-to-earth themes of Neo-realism and gave the world a new concept of cinema. Neo-realism, it was said, was proper to poor, not to wealthy cinematic industries.
It this was son, Iranian Director Majid Majidi accepted the challenge, and has made Children of Heaven, the most moving and perfect piece of neo-realism that has been filmed outside of Italy. The story is much like that of The Bicycle Thieves: it’s a pair of shoes that are stolen. But Majidi has provided us with the most wonderful performances from children that the screen has ever seen. A great story, magnificent color and camera work,perfect actors both children and adult, and a firm direction that never misses an opportunity to engage and captivate the audience. I have never seen a better motion picture from that part of the world.