Directed by Majid Majidi

 Reza Naji


The Song of Sparrows


The Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi (“The Color of Paradise”) has made an even more interesting feature, this time called “The Song of Sparrows,” that on the surface seems to be as uneventful as an Elizabethan pastorale, and yet it contains so many sad, witty, and ultimately universal truths within it that we are astonished at almost every turn.  A man, Karim, and his family live outside Tehran in a little compound with an extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins.  He is married and has three children, and works at an ostrich farm, to which he rides his motorcycle every day.  His older daughter is deaf, and one day she loses her hearing aid in a nearby cistern, one whose water has gotten contaminated and fouled.  The hearing aid is found but is also unusable.  The family has no money to buy her a replacement.  Meanwhile his 8-year-old son and his friends want to clean it and raise goldfish to sell.


One day an ostrich runs away, and Karim is fired from his job.  He rides his motorcycle into Tehran to look for work, but a pedestrian mistakes him for a motor-taxi, insists on being taken to his destination, and Karim ends up with more money than he could make on the ostrich farm.  Why not become a taxi driver?  Which he does, hoping to make enough to buy his daughter a new hearing aid.


Majidi and Reza Naji, the actor who plays Karim, have given us an ordinary man – excitable, lovable, difficult to live with, frustrating, but somehow marvelously inventive – who embodies all of these at once, and within them all is someone who is representative of every one of us; in our frustrations and our successes, our small triumphs and our small tragedies.  And yet he goes on because he has no other options.  “The Song of Sparrows” contains a bit of every emotion, every triumph, every disappointment in life; the specific stands for the universal, and we all can identify with that.