The Hardships of Living in the Past

Ali Reza Naderi, Scriptwriter

The Impediments of Ali Hatami’s Cinema
Translated by Mohammad Karimi

A long alley forward; a way toward the “past”, a long alley that goes back forever, and an alley that goes forward to “future”, these two are against each other but both will reach to “eternity”.
All the artists would work on one of these: past, present and future; no matter if they are at their “motherland” or “exile”, in “travel” or “settled”. Ali Hatami –who is from our past by the order of death-, has often written about “past” while living in present! “home, memoir and language”, are made in the “past”; it is deep common wonder, to live in the moment and think about memoirs, making memoirs and living with them!
The paper had to be written for Mother, but it is not; about Hatami and the value of his memoirs, but it is not; it is about the “ones” who worked with Hatami.
Hatami worked in theatre, cinema and literature at the time when official cultural institutions were thinking about the country’s modernization and future with their broad and artificial bureaucratic structure for a delirious kind of development. Hatami was living in a close past and looking in his memoirs for the hints that could be used for an artistic job; something like an endless conflict with what the government was looking after!
It is clear that Hatami was looking for something that government was doing its best to wipe it out! Surely you know how willingly Pahlavis moved out Qadjars and their lassitude from the Iranian nation’s path and how proud of it they were! The art of Hatami and the mystery of his victory in this conflict was the picture which he drew of the “past”. This “past” is still something that gives a deep nostalgic feeling to the ones who wish for those days’ literature and costumes. The days without newspaper, with a government led by a dumb and retarded king, courtiers chosen from the underlings and incapable people, and a harem full of dirt and stench; but … Hatami narrates the Qadjars’ past so skillfully that Shah is believed to be great king and his only fault is killing Amir and …
The past literature, history, notable texts or some newspapers, objects and structures and all the other things belonging to the past, all were shining materials to Hatami; while the art of that era was principally going toward modernism and all the old objects were about to be in trash and away!
In this short writing, I am pointing to those clever and stylist officials who understood Hatami at that time! The official whose priorities were not given by official orders and sanctions; the ones who accepted the risk and believed his thoughts and considerations, his Sultan of Sahibqeran …and opened the way for a young man who was going toward the two eternities, the “past” and “future”. The man who had chosen past while the regime was hardly trying to fill the “moment” of people, or at most drowning them in the future unreal delusions! Where are the clever officials, who understood at the “moment”, what would be the “future” for Hatami who was searching for the “past”?!

Hamshahri-ye Mah (Monthly Hamshahri), Special Issue, No. 58, page: 87, Nov. 2010

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