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سینمای ایران » نقد و بررسی1401/02/27


Endless Night: A stricken Family on the Nowruz Eve

Film Review 1

Parvaneh Ahmadi

 

Synopsis:d

The father of a family - named Jamshid - while having a wife, at the peak of his business relationship, decides to secretly marry one of his clients. He has lived with his first wife, Shamsi, for ten years and has two small children; A girl named Fati and a boy named Mehdi. The story of his first wife is revealed to his second fiancé and this causes Jamshid's violent reaction against Shamsi. Then, as secrets are revealed, Jamshid finds his home life in jeopardy.d

Let’s start with the title of the film. "Endless Night" brings to mind a novel of the same title by Agatha Christie. The novel tells the story of a young man who meets and marries a rich girl. After marriage, he buys a Victorian house that people say is cursed. In this film, it’s as if Jamshid is the young man in the novel who took Shamsi out of his father's affluent house and married her. The house that Jamshid bought a few years after his marriage seems to be the same cursed house in the novel which now his family’s happiness is failing in. Although there is no written or oral interview with Hamid Tamjidi in which he referred to the adaptation, his connection to literature is not unfamiliar. Doesn't the film by him called "The Rose" refers to a novel by Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose)? Or in his other film "The Bird May Die" (the film he made after his emigration) does he not consider a poem by Forough Farrokhzad (the late contemporary poet of Iran)? Besides, a part of the storyline of "The Name of the Rose" (Umberto Eco's novel) seems to be traceable in the TV series "The Wages of Fear", just as the story of the "Agate" series is based on a true story. Finding the signs of Tamjidi's interest in literature and adaptation requires a separate review of his works. He knows well how to take clues from literature and real events and how to adapt them to Iranian culture. He is skilled in using native cultural elements to write and direct the script.d

Iranian screenwriter, actor, and director Hamid Tamjidi, who became well-known in the 1990s, is best known in Iran for the TV series "Wages of Fear"; A series in the detective-crime genre that became so popular that it prompted Tamjidi to make a sequel (Part 2) entitled “Playing with Death”. A cinematic version of the second part of the series was also produced, and parts of it were presented as "intertextual" references at the beginning of "Endless Night". However, the story of Endless Night is not in the detective genre but explicitly and directly deals with society and its smallest unit, the family. In fact, at a time when the Iranian socio-political atmosphere and, consequently, the cinematic atmosphere were mainly focused on other issues, this film raised one of the most important sociological issues of the family. In "Endless Night" (1999), Tamjidi turns to "domestic violence"; It could be said that the subject was neglected at that time and had not, as in recent years, been subjected to such extensive sociological and statistical research.d

As the family has always been considered a sacred refuge for the tranquility of man, violence destroys the safe and peaceful image of the family. Numerous factors such as genetics, physiology, environment, and society contribute to domestic violence. One of the most important variables influencing violence is defined in the theory known as "social learning". This theory is the result of research by Albert Bandura, according to which humans are aggressive towards each other for three reasons: 1) they have learned aggressive reactions from past experiences (intergenerational transmission). 2) they expect to achieve a goal through aggressive action. 3) certain social conditions lead them to aggression. In Endless Night, there are examples for each of the above. In a sequence of this film that takes place in the front yard, Jamshid's father severely reprimands him for his violence against Shamsi. Addressing Jamshid, he says, "I wonder how this woman tolerated you during these years!" Jamshid replies, "The way my mother tolerated you. When you were going to get a second wife, how she felt and how much she took sedatives? Don't you remember?" In another sequence, in the same yard, Jamshid's mother and father talk to each other. The woman says to the man, "Remember how much you hit me on the back with your baton? No one dared to protest." These dialogues, which reveal the events of Jamshid's childhood, show that he learned violent behaviors from the experience of his father's generation, in the context of his paternal family and the environment around him. He is trapped in a cycle of violence and its generational turnaround. This is the first reason for violence in Bandura's theory; learning behavior through observation or direct experience of behavior. But the second reason is to achieve a specific goal. It seems that Jamshid, by committing physical violence against Shamsi, intends to show patriarchal authority. The belief which justifies him for having a second wife and as such objecting to this is met with corporal punishment. The third reason, in Bandura's view, depends on socio-economic conditions. Jamshid is in a category of society for which it's not easy to generate income. He has also not had much financial support. In unequal social and economic conditions, incorrect methods of achieving prosperity become more deceptive. Thus, the loss of such false methods and opportunities leads to aggressive and violent behavior. A second marriage is an opportunity for Jamshid. In order not to miss that, he even resorts to lies and secrecy. So, when he feels threatened, he becomes violent.d

Attitudes, beliefs, and cultural patterns are also among the most important structural factors that reinforce cycles of violence against women. “Endless Night” is full of allusions to superstitious or irrational cultural attitudes, each of which can foster or justify a cycle of violence. In a society where the male sex is superior, the daughter is expected to compromise, be a peacemaker, settle disputes, not quarrel, and be caring and kind. This cultural belief is present in the mindset of Jamshid's mother. She confesses to Fati that in marital disputes (between Jamshid and Shamsi) she has repeatedly sided with Jamshid. Because in her view, it is the woman who must always retreat, and it is the woman who must maintain the family. She also tells Jamshid's father "it is the man who is in charge and has the final say." The father, addressing Jamshid, says, "I thought that if you got married, you would become a man." This sentence refers to another culturally incorrect attitude. This attitude assumes that one's moral and behavioral defects improve through the formation of a new family. "I did not want to let a stranger take over my brother's living property," also he says, justifying his attempt to marry his brother's widow. By saying this, he is justifying his violence against Jamshid's mother. On the other hand, due to his patriarchal beliefs, he wants his late brother’s widow and children to remain within the same extended family, even if at the cost of ignoring a woman's emotional wishes. In response, Jamshid's mother added the saliva of a dead body to her husband's food. Because she believed that by doing so, she would prevent him from remarrying. Thus, when there is a wrong attitude, superstitions are also produced so that the confrontational force of harmful cultural beliefs is equal.d

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