CINEMA The Green Wave
With Middle Eastern affairs currently featuring very prominently in the media, The Green Wave arrives at a time in which oppressed nations strive for justice and equality on our television screens. This, however, is the story of Iran’s struggle for democracy. A story told as audiences will not have heard it; told in a way the media cannot accommodate.
The 2010 Iranian presidential elections were not just an opportunity to potentially elect a candidate to replace the controversial President Ahmadinejad. It was also a time in which the people of Iran, desperate for a democratic upheaval in their country, joined together across the nation in a mass show of support for Ahmadinejad’s rival candidate, Mousavi.
The Green Revolution that followed and the impact it created is covered exhaustively in Ali Samadi Ahadi’s documentary. Incorporating testimonies from those affected directly over this period in Iran, The Green Wave constructs a chronology of the events that transpired before, during and after the presidential election as well as offering a more personal insight into this compelling period of contemporary Middle Eastern politics…
Early on in The Green Wave, there is a voiceover in which a narrator indicates that the outcome for the Iranian people in their struggle for democracy was not a happy one. The use of this narrative device immediately places our attention on the substance of the democratic movement and the occurrences that took place during its growth, before its journey came to what we now know is an unfortunate end. In this way, the filmmaker, Ali Samadi Ahadi has, perhaps, attempted to commemorate what was clearly a monumental episode in the history of Iran, preserving it for future generations to illustrate how strong the people were in their unity. However, his objective with this film is a little more complex than that as Ali Samadi Ahadi, whilst conveying the jubilation and hope engendered by the convergence of the Iranians for the cause, also investigates the emotions and opinions circulating at the time.
With the narrative of the film pushing past the optimistic phase in which the citizens of Iran were hoping for success at the forthcoming elections, we are then witness to the tyranny that gradually brought the supporters of Mousavi to a crushing halt. Beginning with chicanery at the polling stations, the film then uses hand-held camera footage taken by onlookers to demonstrate the hideous use of force that was subsequently utilised by the police on unarmed civilians. The filmmaker’s deft editing and insertion of information updates that were disseminated at the time to highlight the tactics of the police and progress of the election sustain the sense of pandemonium and alarm that dominated Iran. The representations of brutality and unjustified imprisonment in these scenes are both vivid and harrowing, leaving viewers with a depressing afterthought. Ahadi has been very brave to bring these images to us, but for better or worse, the most outstanding segment of this film appears almost as a mosaic of violent sequences. If, of course, he has opted for this strategy in order to force us to take the issue seriously, then he has certainly been successful in achieving his aim.
The Green Wave offers a very lucid depiction of recent history in Iran.
The Green Wave offers a very lucid depiction of recent history in Iran, and although it documents every significant stage of this turbulent time in Iran, what really distinguishes it is its interpretation of the personal cost of this period. By interweaving factual content and footage with first-hand accounts and recollections, the director ensures that the gravitas of his film is unavoidable for every member of the viewing audience. To further communicate the complex nature of what transpired in Iran, animation is implemented. Dark and coarse in their realisation, these simple sequences, apart from amplifying the more terrifying elements of the documentary, are also appropriate in underlining the idealism of the movement. While these sequences are well-judged in their placement within the narrative of the film, and generally enrich the viewing experience, it could be complained that the voiceovers are a little over-earnest. This sometimes undermines the content of the dialogue.
It may be necessary to indicate to those wishing to see this film that this is not an easy watch. The descriptions and depictions of inhuman treatment are likely to unsettle and shock viewers. That said, there is much to enjoy in The Green Wave – the wonderful montages of ecstatic and tearfully hopeful crowds being just one example. And there is no denying how illuminating this film is; shedding light onto a topic many will only have awareness of through fleeting news coverage.
Noble and informative, The Green Wave is a passionate telling of a remarkable series of events in Iran. A film that makes its point with often harrowing and emotive consequences for the viewer, this documentary still, amazingly, manages to celebrate the light as much as it curses the darkness.
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