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The Ballad of Tara (Cherike-ye Tara)

The Ballad of Tara (Cherike-ye Tara)

The Ballad of Tara (Cherike-ye Tara)

Dir. Bahram Beyzaie
102 min

The Ballad of Tara (Cherike-ye Tara)

Saturday, February 17 at 7:00pm

Highlighting restored, archival, and silent cinema from Il Cinema Ritrovato's annual festival in Bologna, Italy.

About The Ballad of Tara (Cherike-ye Tara)

Bahram Beyzaie’s seamless blend of myth, symbolism, folklore and classical Persian literature in Cherike-ye Tara is unparalleled in its complexity. Yet, apart from Ragbar (Downpour, 1972), which was restored and revived a decade ago, the director with the most consistent body of work in the Iranian cinema of the 1970s is also, unjustly, one of the most invisible masters of the Iranian New Wave. Here, as well as directing, he has also produced, written, set and costume-designed, and edited a mesmerizing tale that fuses the ceremonial legends of the past with contemporary life. Tara, a strong-willed widow encounters the fleeting ghost of an ancient warrior in the forest next to her village. The ghost’s appearances become more frequent and finally he talks to her, claiming a sword that she has found among her father’s effects. Without the sword, the dead warrior can’t rest. But when the sword is restored to him, it’s his love for Tara that prevents him from returning to the land of the dead.

With the close of production coinciding with the 1979 revolution and the Islamist takeover of the country, it wasn’t so much the political symbolism of the film that led to its indefinite ban. Rather, it was the image of a woman, both desired and at the same time in charge of her destiny, which upset the authorities. (Cannes 1980 was the only official screening of the film.) Susan Taslimi’s stunning debut in the role of Tara remained unseen. Her energy is matched by the self-assured performance of Beyzaie’s regular collaborator, Manouchehr Farid.

The film is influenced by the patterns of ancient ritual as many of the scenes occur in parallel with a Ta’zieh performance, a Shia passion play, depicting the sufferings of Imam Hossein. The film could be seen as a secular interpretation of Ta’zieh (as much as a feminist take on Kurosawa) in which Tara, having lost the men in her life, realizes that she must pick up a sword and redefine her womanhood. In that sense, the last sequence, one of the greatest moments of Iranian cinema, anticipates in its epic poetry the bravery of the struggles of Iranian women today. —Ehsan Khoshbakht

This film is courtesy of Bahram Beyzaie

Returning to the Twin Cities for a second year, Il Cinema Ritrovato on Tour presents rare, restored, and recovered archival cinema. Il Cinema Ritrovato On Tour–Minneapolis will screen films at The Main Cinema from February 15–17, 2024. Closing night (February 18) will take place at the Heights Theater and will feature a new restoration of Ernst Lubitsch’s take on an Oscar Wilde classic, Lady Windermere’s Fan.

Presented in partnership by Archives on Screen, Twin Cities, MSP Film Society, and Cineteca di Bologna, the festival will screen highlights from Il Cinema Ritrovato’s 2023 lineup. Il Cinema Ritrovato is an annual international film festival that exhibits new restorations and archival films in Bologna, Italy.

Archives on Screen is proud to partner with Il Cinema Ritrovato and Cineteca di Bologna to curate selections from their festival for Twin Cities audiences.


Film Details

Program: Il Cinema Ritrovato On Tour
Release Year: 1979
Runtime: 102 min
Country/Region: Iran
Language: Farsi


Director: Bahram Beyzaie
Cinematographer: Mehrdad Fakhimi
Screenwriter: Bahram Beyzaie
Editor: Bahram Beyzaie
Principal Cast: Susan Taslimi (Tara), Manouchehr Farid (ancient warrior), Reza Babak (Ghelich), Siamak Atlasi (Ashoub), Mahim Dayhim (neighbor)