Gabbeh: Screening



In the Tuesday’s session we saw an Iranian film from 1996 called “Gabbeh”. This film was, at the least, intriguing. It dealt with matters of mysticism, supernatural and drama. So I don’t think it is inserted into a specific genre, but more of a compilation of different sub-genres.

This story commences with an old couple’s task of washing their gabbeh (somewhat of a carpet in Iranian tradition), and who would do the mighty task. They eventually put it under the water of a river and said a poem/song that brought forth the keeper of the gabbeh called, so originally, Gabbeh. And from that point forward it is understood that the actual protagonist of the story is actually this young woman who recounts her life’s story to the old couple. It is made clear that she is in love with a man that her father doesn’t approve and that he would kill her and her lover if she were to run away with him. Thus knowing that her father is not a very appealing guy. Furthermore Gabbeh’s uncle is introduced, and is made apparent that she likes very much and that her faith lies with him, because only after her uncle finds the woman he wants to marry will it enable Gabbeh to be with the man she loves, although we are not quite sure how this comes to be or how this helps her case with her father. The film ends fairly simply, with an ending that might leave the viewer wanting more and not really getting it.


This story uses a lot of mysticism represented, for example, in the fact that Gabbeh’s family symbol is a tree from which branches grow whenever a new member is born into the family and get cut down whenever someone perishes; and it’s also exemplified in the way that merely through the use of water can Gabbeh “see” and “hear” everything that is happening with her family even though she is, assuredly, far away. So it is never known if the story is told in the present with Gabbeh simply being in another part of the country and acting as a simple observer, or if she is retelling the story of her distant past.


From the movie, it is understandable some of the director’s preferences in terms of shot composition and thematics, shown through some static shots that hold for quite a while through different points in the plot line, and also illustrates that the filmmaker is probably a spiritual person who likes to delve into the mystique of the supernatural and work it to his advantage but always staying as faithful as possible to the original traditions of the Iranian people.


One thought on “Gabbeh: Screening

  1. Pingback: Iranian New Wave | my journey through film

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