A woman gives birth to a baby girl. Little does she know but she and her daughter are already unwanted.Three women are released from prison and their need for money leads them to take desperate measures.An unmarried woman ... more »seeking an abortion is rejected from her father's house by the violent threats of her brothers.Their crimes are vague their guilt or innocence unimportant.Their paths cross the suspense of their intrigues heightens. Their plights are often too tragically similar. Their world is one of constant surveillance bureaucracy and age-old inequalities. But this stifling world cannot extinguish the spirit strength and courage of the circle of women.System Requirements: Running Time 91 MinFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: FOREIGN/LATIN Rating: NR UPC: 720917530727 Manufacturer No: FLV5307« less
Worthwhile but confusing film about women's lives in Iran
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 11/03/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This Iranian film, is banned in Iran, consists of several intertwining stories of women, all living the sad realities of the circle of life that traps them again and again. I understand it was filmed at night, in secret, using non-professional actors and smuggled out of Iran for the Venice Film Festival where it won the Golden Lion Award.The camera is obviously hand held as it follows these non-professional actresses around. Their faces shine out from their chadors - real, unpretty and blemished. One of the women has a huge discolored bruise on the her face. Another woman's face is deeply creased. There eyes are huge and expressive. The film begins with a woman's offscreen screams behind the title and credits. At first I think she is being tortured. And then there is a cry of a baby and we know she has just given birth. "It's a girl" says the hospital nurse to the grandmother who is immediately saddened. "The family will insist on divorce," she says. "They expected a boy." Thus sets the tone of the film which now shifts to three women huddled together in a phone booth desperately trying to call someone who is not at home. They are worried and afraid as they hide from authorities, especially since one of them gets arrested. It takes a while for the audience to find out that they have just escaped from prison. Their stories are never clear. We don't know what their crimes were. We don't know much about them at all. But we do follow them through the city as they try to cope with all the restrictions around them and interact with other women in equally awful circumstances.Without the proper papers, or without a man by their side, women can't travel. Certainly they can't raise a child alone. One woman tries to get an abortion but is turned away because she needs a husband's permission. One woman actually abandons her small daughter on a city street. The audience sees pieces of stories such as the woman who buys a man's wedding shirt although the audience never finds out what the back story is or who the shirt is for. And we never get to meet the woman who has borne the child in the first scene. The city is filmed as a bustling but hostile environment without any hope for these women. There is no joy in the film. Only sadness. And the script seems nonexistent with pieces of conversation that don't seem related to any of the stories. Everywhere there is misery without one bit of relief for the women or the audience.I saw this film in a theater and found it extremely difficult to watch. Indeed, so did other people because many of them just stood up and walked out. Without a specific story to follow, I felt strangely remote from what was happening on the screen. but perhaps that was the director, Jafar Panahi's intent. The film does work as a political statement but I needed more details in the script to be able to identify with these sad and remote women. This is obviously a worthwhile film, but it is just too confusing for my tastes."
Wonderful, daring movie!
Linda Linguvic | 12/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie easily became of my favorites. Along with Abbas Kiarostami's "Taste of Cherry", this one of the most daring films to come out of Iran in recent years. Director Jafar Panahi skillfully depicts the ever worsening condition of Iranian women under the Islamic regime. This is a very realistic telling of the everyday lives of Iranian women, especially those who dare to defy the repressive measures they have been forced to endure in the past 22 years. This is one movie that does not stick to cultural relativism or try to give religious justifications for how the characters are treated. It shows each of the characters as human beings with dreams and aspirations who are trapped in circumstances beyond their control. No wonder this movie was banned in Iran by the Islamic republic's board of censorship.The cast is great, the dialogues are great and the overall setting is very realistic. The cinematography is also good. This movie may seem slow or boring to those who are not familiar with the current political setting of Iran. There are several intertwined stories in this movie and this may seem confusing to impatient viewers. Also, the subtitles are not great (as is the case with "Taste of Cherry".)* In Persian with English Subtitles"
Outstanding movie-A real eye opener
ZMA | Nashville, TN, USA | 06/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As an Iranian woman I can really understand the movie. However I am not sure that many non-Iranians will be able to understand this movie. This is a true story of situation of some women in Iran. Of course this can not be generalized and majority of Iranian women don't live like this. However this movie clearly shows the situation of thousands and thousands of young women in the streets of Tehran.
The Circle is not one story but a series of fictional vignettes. The opening scene is of a mother at a window (the hospital delivery room) who is being told her daughter has given birth to a girl. She refuses to accept that her grandchild is a girl because she is afraid that his son-in-law divorces her daughter for giving birth to a girl. Then, suddenly, the camera has moved into the streets and into the story of three women just out of prison. The director drifts from one protagonist to the next. We follow one woman escaping to somewhere on a bus, then without warning, we are following her friend's wanderings, then the story becomes that of a women she meets in the street, and so it goes. The final scene also shows a window (the cell door) where the guard is calling for the same woman that had given birth in the very first scene. The movie clearly shows how women are trapped into a hopeless cycle due to an Islamic totalitarian regime in Iran.
This is a movie that makes you think for hours and days.
A True Masterpiece
Mehrbod Mohammadi | 01/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Movies today, show us things that we have seen a lot of action adventure, suspense, but we are starting to see that outside of our comfort zone there is a whole different world that exists. The Circle Directod Jafar Panahi, gives us a glimpse of what women have to put up and deal with in other parts of the world, like for example where this movie was taken place... In Iran.... I watched this movie for the 3rd time yesterday and I decided to buy the movie.
There is so much behind The Circle that it will leave you amazed every time that you watch this movie, I know it did to me...
If there is one movie that you are buying today make it this one because I know it will be one of the best movies you will ever see. This movie got 4-1/2 stars, and was almost on every Top 10 list for best movies of the year... It also got "two thumbs up"....
I thought this movie disserved a 5 out 5 and no less.....I hope that you will watch the movie to understand where I am coming from..."
ZMA | 01/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most exciting and original relationships between character and story that I have seen developed recently on film. Something truly strange and profound happens as one figure exits for another to enter, into a camera frame that moves and circles with genuine originality.For those coming to watch this film for its overt subject matter, it is understandable that you will be disappointed. Panahi's creation of the mysterious and mobile is a profound treatment of what is typically a heavy and distinct subject. Anticipating yet another rendering of Oppression as a monster, I was truly provoked and inspired to find it a ghost this time instead. - spc"