A transitional film linking Sohrab Shahid Saless’s Iranian period with his extended stay in Germany, this was the third film in an unplanned trilogy – which also includes Iranian New Wave masterpieces A Simple Event (1973) and Still Life (1974) – focusing on social isolation and stillness. It follows a few days in the life of Husseyin (played by the Iranian Parviz Sayyad), a Turkish ‘guest worker’ who shares a flat in West Berlin with a group of fellow Turks.
Here repetition, which had been used in contemporary Iranian films as a poetic device, emphasises the sense of wastefulness. Saless’s austere style is also manifested in the dialogue; either muttered words or the flat delivery of banal facts. There’s an abundance of elements from other Saless films: trains, letters written and read, as well as the despairing sight of empty, unmade beds. The vanity of life is captured in dead moments, when even after a character has walked out the frame the camera lingers, staring into the vacuum and revealing a bleak vision of the world of the exploited and the rootless. As if mirroring the backgammon game played in the film, all of life’s movements are merely small manoeuvres within a narrow square. No other film has depicted the painful repetitiveness of an immigrant’s life in such candid detail. (EK)