Blackboards (2002)


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Movie Info

Samira Makmalbaf makes her sophomore feature outing with this bold, elliptical look at the plight of marginalized populations in modern Iran. The film opens with a group of Kurdish teachers lugging blackboards on their backs in the rocky hinterland looking for illiterates to educate. The group splits up in a panic when they are suddenly confronted by a helicopter border patrol. Two pedagogues, Reeboir (Bahman Ghobadi) and Said (Said Mohamadi), camouflage their chalkboards with mud and take separate paths. Reeboir runs into a bevy of semi-feral adolescent boys who look haggard beyond their years; they spent their entire lives hauling (smuggled) goods through harrowing mountain passes. Reeboir tries to convince the lads that they should learn to read, but he is firmly rebuffed. Meanwhile, Said stumbles upon a wizened old man with a urinary problem and an attractive widowed daughter. Said eventually marries the woman, using his blackboard as dowry. Makmalbaf manages to imbue the film with a mood of fear and loss, making the characters' indomitable spirit all the more moving. This film was screened in competition at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.


Mayas Rostami
as Young Boy Storyteller
Saman Akbari
as Group Leader
Ahmad Bahrami
as Marriage Registrar
Mohamad Moradi
as Match Maker
Karim Moradi
as Old Man
Rasool Mohamadi
as The Boy Porter
Somaye Veisee
as Little Girl
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Critic Reviews for Blackboards

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (12)

When I first saw Blackboards three years ago I was surprised as well as puzzled that in some ways it reminded me of John Ford's 1950 western Wagon Master.

Apr 25, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Reeboir varies between a sweet smile and an angry bark, while Said attempts to wear down possible pupils through repetition. It has no affect on the Kurds, but it wore me down.

Jan 31, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/4

A heartening tale of small victories and enduring hope.

Jan 24, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

There's no denying the strength of these simple images, and the bleak message of learning to sort out your real priorities in times of strife.

Jan 17, 2003 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

A selection of scenes in search of a movie.

Jan 17, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Its metaphors are opaque enough to avoid didacticism, and the film succeeds as an emotionally accessible, almost mystical work.

Jan 17, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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