Children of Heaven (1997) by Majid Majidi

A deeply humanistic film


By Anna Bliss

"Children of Heaven" is a 1997 Iranian drama film written and directed by multi-award-winning filmmaker, Majid Majidi. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1998. The Iranian filmmaker films realistically a sensitive and humane look at the enormous problems his country experiencing. The average Western viewer is unsuspecting for the conditions prevailing in countries like Iran and he cannot but be moved and troubled by the story.

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On his way home from getting his sister's Zahra shoes repaired, Ali accidentally loses them. He leaves them to buy some potatoes and while he is occupied, a homeless man picks up the shoes, thinking it was garbage and takes them away. Desperate to find them, the young boy tangles in a numerous adventures. Since Ali's family lives in a poor South Tehran neighbourhood, and are having financial trouble, the little boy doesn't want to tell them the bad news. Zahra agrees to keep the loss a secret from his parents until he can find them. So he and Zahra must share a pair of his worn-out sneakers: Zahra wearing them in the mornings to school and Ali in the afternoons, in a decision  ultimately causing tension with his sister, family and school. A footage race at school will give Ali the opportunity to replace his sister s shoes.


Majid Majidi directs a film about the purity and kindness of children's souls and about the problems Iranian society is facing. At the same time, he sheds light to the problems a poor family has to face in this setting and the strong bonds that connects its members. A tender tale of compassion determination and deep family love. Its simplicity touches straight to the heart, as it provides, additionally, a study at temperament and desire.

The main focus, however, is the two children, and amateurs actors Amir Farrokh Hashemian as Ali and Bahare Seddiqi as Zahra, provide great performances that win the heart of the audience immediately. The simplicity of their act and their disarming innocence can carry the viewer away, as it is a film children have the first and the last word, while adults seem powerless.

Nature is absent from the movie as it is filmed, exclusively, in the poor alleys of Tehran. The only exceptions in this tactic is a water tank in the courtyard of the poor house, where goldfish swim and the blooming gardens revealed when Ali follows his father at the rich side of the town.

"Children of Heaven" is a deeply humanistic film that benefits the most from the amazing performances by the two young protagonists.


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Asian Film Vault: Children of Heaven (1997) by Majid Majidi
Children of Heaven (1997) by Majid Majidi
A deeply humanistic film
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