A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
AGWHAN poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Persianدختری در شب تنها به خانه می‌رود
Directed byAna Lily Amirpour
Produced by
Written byAna Lily Amirpour
Starring
Music byBei Ru
CinematographyLyle Vincent
Edited byAlex O'Flinn
Production
companies
Distributed byVice Films
Release date
  • January 20, 2014 (2014-01-20) (Sundance)[1]
  • November 21, 2014 (2014-11-21) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguagePersian
Box office$628,000[3]

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Persian: دختری در شب تنها به خانه می‌رودDokhtari dar šab tanhâ be xâne miravad) is a 2014 American horror Western film[4] written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. Promoted as "The first Iranian vampire Western", it was chosen to show in the "Next" program at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.[5]

The film is described as being set in "the Iranian ghost-town Bad City" and depicts the doings of "a lonesome vampire".[6]

Plot[edit]

A young, hardworking Iranian man named Arash lives with and takes care of his heroin-addicted father, Hossein. They are harassed by a cruel, drug-dealer pimp named Saeed, who seizes the young man's prized car in exchange for money the father owes him. In a crime of opportunity, Arash steals a pair of diamond earrings from the wealthy young woman he works for, Shaydah.

Saeed comes across a strange young woman in a chador at night. She persuades Saeed to take her back to his apartment. While there, she grows long fangs and first bites off his finger, then goes for his neck, killing him. As she leaves, she passes by Arash, who has come to offer the earrings for his car. He finds Saeed dead, and takes back his car keys along with a suitcase of drugs and cash. Arash decides to sell the drugs, allowing him to quit his job working for Shaydah. Later, he goes to a costume party at a night club dressed up as Dracula, where he is persuaded by Shaydah into taking one of the ecstasy pills he is selling. Under the influence, he is rejected by her, and ends up lost at night on the street.

The woman with the chador spends her time listening to music alone in her apartment, skateboarding, or bedeviling pedestrians at night, until she comes across the lost Arash. He shows vulnerability and compassion, and she takes him to her home, where they listen to music, and she resists his exposed neck. They meet the next night, and she says that he does not know the terrible things she has done. He is unfazed, gives her the earrings and – at her request – pierces her ears with a safety pin, but she eventually leaves.

Atti, a prostitute who worked for Saeed, is followed at night by the woman, and they retreat to the prostitute's apartment. The woman gives Atti the payment Saeed owed her. They have a conversation during which the woman realizes that Atti no longer remembers what it is to desire. She leaves.

Suffering from heroin withdrawal, Hossein has an episode where he believes that Arash's cat is his dead wife. Infuriated by his father, Arash gives him drugs and money and throws him out, telling him to take the cat with him. Hossein goes to Atti and forces her to take heroin with him. They are found by the woman, who kills Hossein. After Atti helps her dispose of Hossein's body, she tells her to take the cat and leave.

The following morning, Arash discovers Hossein's body. Distressed, he runs to the apartment of the woman and begs her to run away with him. As she is gathering up her things, the cat appears and Arash realizes that she had something to do with his father's death. Arash and the woman drive off together but he pulls off to the side of the road, angry and undecided about what to do. He eventually gets back in the car and the two continue their trip onwards.

Cast[edit]

Themes[edit]

The director, regarding the mythology of the vampire, has stated that: "A vampire is so many things: serial killer, a romantic, a historian, a drug addict – they're sort of all these things in one."[8] The film examines these facets of a vampire as described by Amirpour in a variety of ways.

The film's protagonist, The Girl, is a sort-of antihero vigilante with a taste for bad men. As a vampire, she is able to roam the streets at night without being concerned for her safety, subverting the implications of the film's title.[9] She is the perpetrator, not the victim, and possesses agency and power that would not be typically reserved for her in an environment such as Bad City. In this way, the film has feminist leanings.

Rockabilly, a gender-bending, minor background character who exists on the fringe of Bad City throughout the duration of the movie, acts as a silent observer to the events around them. Director Amirpour states that "If there's one political thing [in the movie], it's not the chador, it's Rockabilly, because it's not OK to be gay in Iran."[8]

Production[edit]

An early short film with the same title from Amirpour screened at festivals and won Best Short Film at the Noor Iranian Film Festival.[10]

An Indiegogo campaign was launched in July 2012 to fund the feature-length version of the film. On August 27, 2012, the campaign's goal of $55,000 was surpassed.[11] The project ended up with a total sum of $56,903 raised by 290 backers.[12]

The film was shot over the course of twenty-four days, in the town of Taft in Kern County in southern California.

The film premiered at Sundance in 2014.[13]

In an interview with MovieMaker, Amirpour spoke regarding her relationship with filmmaking:

“People ask me, “Why did you make A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night?” My answer is that I was lonely—that’s why. But taking that a step further, the truth is that I make films to make friends and find real intimacy; a connection with others based on something that’s meaningful to me. The people who make these films with you, your cast and crew—it’s like they’re on a vision quest with you. That is an incomparable experience. And then when the film is done and out there, the people who are attracted to your film—the audiences, festivals that embrace it, other filmmakers, artists, the critics who like what you do—those are my friends. And I don’t expect to be friends with everyone.”


Amirpour is a lifelong skater, and was a stand-in for the skateboarding sequences present in the film.[14]

Style[edit]

The film is directed and imagined by Ana Lily Amirpour with cinematography by Lyle Vincent.[15] Its style is clearly inspired by spaghetti westerns like those of Sergio Leone, featuring a mysterious, lone, antihero with a vigilante streak. However, the genre is reimagined with a female lead, and is a hybrid spaghetti western-vampire film.[16] As a vampire film it serves as an homage to its legacy of predecessors especially the 1922 German Expressionist film Nosferatu. Echoes of the film are seen in the choice of black and white, the use of shadows, and the minimal dialogue.[15] The film's dialogue is entirely in Persian, and the film blends elements of Iranian culture with the spaghetti western-vampire imagery described above.[17]

The film was shot digitally with anamorphic lenses, which Amirpour and Vincent selected in an effort to emphasize the bleak, otherworldly atmosphere of the film.[18]

Amirpour has stated that graphic novels are a major source of inspiration for her. The visual language of the film is not unlike that of a comic book, with its “high-contrast monochrome aesthetic”. Additionally, Bad City, the fictional location in which the film is set, may perhaps be a nod to Frank Miller’s “Sin City”.[18]

Amirpour has said that she had her actors watch Nosferatu and many spaghetti westerns in preparation for their roles.[19]

She has also said that "every piece of the story, every character, every costume, every bit of music" is something that she "love[s] to the point of obsession."[13]

Soundtrack[edit]

No.TitleArtistLength
1."Charkhesh e Pooch"Kiosk2:23
2."Gelaye"Radio Tehran3:43
3."Sarcophagus"Federale8:34
4."Dancing girls"Farah5:35
5."Bashy"Free Electric Band5:14
6."Black Sunday"Federale3:58
7."Hishe Ayn Ore (Remember That Day?)"Bei Ru2:52
8."Bread Thief"Bei Ru3:00
9."Death (album version)"White Lies5:00
10."Sisyphus"Federale4:14
11."Khabnama"Radio Tehran6:33
12."Thirsty's Return"Federale3:26
13."Cheshme Man"Dariush4:54
14."Tatilat"Radio Tehran5:40
15."Yarom Bia"Kiosk4:31
16."The Veil"Bei Ru3:52
17."Tribe"Federale4:25

A limited edition vinyl pressing of the soundtrack, and accompanying album art, was released by Death Waltz Records in January 2014.[20]

Reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews from critics, holding a 96% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 130 reviews and the site's consensus reads: "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night blends conventional elements into something brilliantly original -- and serves as a striking calling card for writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour."[21]

Guy Lodge of Variety said in his review that "Ana Lily Amirpour's auspicious debut feature is a sly, slinky vampire romance set in an imaginary Iranian underworld".[1] Andrew O'Hehir of Salon called the film "the year's biggest discovery" and praised its feminist themes.[22] Boyd van Hoeij, in his review for The Hollywood Reporter, praised the movie, saying "this moody and gorgeous film is finally more about atmosphere and emotions than narrative – and none the worse for it".[23] Drew Taylor of Indiewire graded the film A− and said that it gives "the impression that you're witnessing something iconic and important unfold before you".[24]

Adaptations[edit]

The film was adapted into a six part graphic novel series published by Radco in 2014.[25] The series explores The Girl's backstory with art from Michael DeWeese.[26]

Belgian band the Black Heart Rebellion created an alternative soundtrack for the film, played it live several times with the film screening in the background and released it as an album in 2018.[27][28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lodge, Guy (January 24, 2014). "Sundance Film Review: 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night'". Variety. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  2. ^ "A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (15)". British Board of Film Classification. April 7, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  3. ^ "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2015) - International Box Office Results". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  4. ^ Lyne, Charlie (July 24, 2015). "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night: 'the first Iranian vampire western'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  5. ^ Barnes, Brooks (December 4, 2013). "A Sundance Lineup Laced With Race, Horror and Family Turmoil". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Moore, Debi (December 4, 2013). "First Wave of Sundance 2014 Films Announced; See the Horror Highlights Here". Dread Central.
  7. ^ "Credits at end of film, and cast list on IMDb".
  8. ^ a b Watercutter, Angela (February 5, 2014). "Meet the Woman Who Directed the World's Only Iranian Vampire Western". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  9. ^ "Film of the Week: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night". Film Comment. November 19, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  10. ^ "2012 NIFF Award Winners". Noor Iranian Film Festival (NIFF) official website. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  11. ^ "August 27, 2012 Indiegogo Update". Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  12. ^ "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Indiegogo Page". Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Amirpour, Ana Lily (November 18, 2014). "Know Thyself: Ana Lily Amirpour on the Question "Why" and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night". MovieMaker Magazine. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  14. ^ Ito, Robert (November 12, 2014). "The Shadow in the Chador". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  15. ^ a b "A striking vampire film deserves to be among the Best Cinematography nominees". Film. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  16. ^ Abdi, Shadee; Calafell, Bernadette Marie (August 8, 2017). "Queer utopias and a (Feminist) Iranian vampire: a critical analysis of resistive monstrosity in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night". Critical Studies in Media Communication. 34 (4): 358–370. doi:10.1080/15295036.2017.1302092. ISSN 1529-5036.
  17. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (January 8, 2015). "'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night' movie review". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Lodge, Guy; Lodge, Guy (January 24, 2014). "Sundance Film Review: 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night'". Variety. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  19. ^ Ito, Robert (November 12, 2014). "The Shadow in the Chador". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  20. ^ Bowers, Jeffrey (December 4, 2014). "Behind the Scenes of 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night' - Part 2". Vice. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  21. ^ "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  22. ^ ""A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night": The black-and-white, feminist Iranian vampire western you've been waiting for". Salon. November 20, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  23. ^ "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night: Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  24. ^ "New Directors/New Films Review: 'A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night' Is A New Vampire Classic". Indiewire. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  25. ^ Moore, Debi (December 4, 2013). "Radco's graphic novel adaptation of Ana Lily Amirpour's mind-blowing A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT". Dread Central. Archived from the original on May 1, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  26. ^ "First look: Vampire film 'Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,' as a comic". EW.com. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  27. ^ The Black Heart Rebellion (April 4, 2017), Cult!Live The Black Heart Rebellion plays 'A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night - Live soundtrack, retrieved April 19, 2018
  28. ^ "The Black Heart Rebellion plays A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, by The Black Heart Rebellion". The Black Heart Rebellion. Retrieved April 19, 2018.

External links[edit]