The Cycle (Dayereh Mina)
The most recent film by the best Iranian director, Darius Mehrjui (The Cow and The Postman), The Cycle caused a sensation at its 1977 Premiere at the Paris Film Festival, and has been praised as the finest Iranian film ever made. Recently given its U.S. Premiere at Joseph Papp's Public Theatre in New York, The Cycle gained this response from Village Voice critic Tom Allen:
“A remarkably sane voice from Iran can be heard this week at the Public Theatre. Darius Mehrjui's The Cycle speaks with the cynically enlightened eloquence of a great Murray Kempton column. Its trenchant social commentary observes the contradictions that have arisen in an ancient Persian culture infiltrated by Western practices. While the mid-'70s film was banned for several years under the Shah, it offers no consolation to the Ayatollah. The very existence of a cool, intellectual wit like Mehrjui and the gallery of Iranians he introduces - from engaging scoundrels to sassy nurses in swishing white mini-skirts - allays the most extreme fears that such a country could regress into a Middle Ages crescent of religious intolerance or radically roll back civil, especially women's, rights. It would take an apocalyptically bloody jihad to beat these familiar 20th-century hustlers back into dull respectability.
“Like any good popular art, The Cycle is wholly accessible, though filmed in Farsi (with English subtitles) and with an all-native cast. The plot about two peasants, an old man and his handsome son, who come to the city to seek medical aid for the father, could just as well have been about two refugees from Appalachia arriving in Chicago. The Cycle is better than any of the group of Third World films shown last year at the New York Film Festival, and is, in fact, the most satisfying movie experience I have had this year.”