Gaav (1969)

[Note: The following review is of a non-Guide for the Film Fanatic title; click here to read more.]

“My cow wouldn’t run away, Eslam… My cow wouldn’t do that.”

Synopsis:
In a close-knit Iranian village, the adoring owner (Ezzatolah Entezami) of the town’s only cow suffers a mental breakdown when he learns that his beloved “pet” has suddenly died.

Genres:

  • Mental Breakdown
  • Middle Eastern Films
  • Obsessive Love
  • Village Life

Review:
While Peary’s Guide for the Film Fanatic lists many “predictable” foreign gems (and a few that are lesser-known), there are nonetheless a number of historically relevant titles — particularly those from developing countries — which are missing, perhaps because he never had a chance to see them in American theaters. These days, however, thanks to DVD, it’s easier than ever to fill in the gaps of our “third world cinema” knowledge, and this film — made by seminal Iranian director Dariush Mehrjui — is one title film fanatics should at least be familiar with. It tells the simple, occasionally enigmatic tale of a married man’s obsessive love for his cow (! yes, it’s mildly creepy), but at heart it’s really more concerned with exploring village dynamics, and how members of a small community choose to deal with one of their own slowly going around the bend. It’s unlike any other film you’ve ever seen, and is worth a look for its historical importance alone.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • The creative opening titles
    Gaav Opening
  • Ezzatolah Entezami as Masht Hassan, the cow’s bereaved owner
    Gaav Crazy
  • An effective look at close-knit village life
    Gaav Villagers
  • Fereydon Ghovanlou’s b&w cinematography
    Gaav Cinematography

Must See?
Yes, for its historical importance as a forerunner of Iranian neo-realist cinema.

Categories

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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