Part of Weekend Classics.
Screened publicly just once before it was banned and then lost for decades, this rediscovered jewel of Iranian cinema reemerges to take its place as one of the most singular and astonishing works of the country’s pre-revolution New Wave. A hypnotically stylized murder mystery awash in shivery period atmosphere, CHESS OF THE WIND unfolds in an ornate, candlelit mansion where a web of greed, violence and betrayal ensnares the heirs to a family fortune as they vie for control of their recently-deceased matriarch’s estate.
Melding the influences of European modernism, gothic horror and classical Persian art, director Mohammad Reza Aslani crafts an exquisitely controlled mood piece that erupts in a stunningly subversive final act in which class conventions, gender roles, and even time itself are upended with shocking ferocity.
Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Image Retrouvée laboratory (Paris) in collaboration with Mohammad Reza Aslani and Gita Aslani Shahrestani. Restoration funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.
“The opulent, claustrophobic interiors are reminiscent of Persian miniatures…. The influence of European cinematic masters like Pasolini, Visconti and Bresson is also apparent. The sound design also stands out: wolves howl and dogs bay as they circle the house, ratcheting up the sense of menace; crows caw, jangling the nerves; heavy breathing makes the characters’ isolation in this haunted house increasingly oppressive. The soundtrack — an early work by trailblazing female composer Sheyda Gharachedaghi — takes inspiration from traditional Iranian music, and sounds like demented jazz.” —John Harris Dunning, The Guardian “A shining example of how familiar genres and tones can meld together to form something that feels brand new. It carries with it the violent urgency of impending change, but also the stagnate rot of class division, gender inequality, and corruption. Watching these two realities constantly collide within such tight confines becomes something to behold….” —Glenn Heath Jr., Film Stage