Blackboards (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Blackboards (2002)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Behnaz Jafari
as Halaleh
Bahman Ghobadi
as Reeboir
Rafat Moradi
as Ridvar
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
Show More Cast

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.

Full Review… | April 25, 2003
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

January 31, 2003
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A heartening tale of small victories and enduring hope.

Full Review… | January 24, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 17, 2003
Toronto Star
Top Critic

A selection of scenes in search of a movie.

Full Review… | January 17, 2003
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 17, 2003
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Blackboards

With its frustratingly persistent repetition, it's easy to write Blackboards off, but beneath the slog, there's an at-least-interesting movie lurking. The film does a decent job of aligning the viewer with its protagonists, traveling teachers searching for students in the stark Iranian landscape. The titular teaching tools take on multiple purposes and have the least utility when being employed for their intended purposes. With a jarring grittiness and verity that recall Neorealism, the film's urgency is more pronounced than it would be in a slicker package, meaning the message comes out strong and mostly clear, even if the same adjectives can't be rightfully assigned to the film as a whole.

Clayton Walter
Clayton Walter

Samira is a very interesting director. like her movies, i find you like her or you dont. i am in like!!

natalie z
natalie z

The role of Halaleh is now pretty much my favorite role in all movies of all time. Ever. All time. *And the director is a 20-year-old female*.

nadia k
nadia k

Blackboards Quotes

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