The Deer (1974 film)
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The Deer (Persian: گوزن ها Gavaznha) is a 1974 drama Iranian film directed by Masoud Kimiai and one of the most acclaimed Persian movies before the Iranian revolution starring Behrouz Vossoughi, the most famous Iranian male actor before the revolution of 1979.
The history of the film is based on the renewal of an old friendship happening in unforeseen and strange circumstances. Seyed (Behrooz Vousoughi) is a drug addict working small jobs in a theatre to pay for his heavy addiction. One day he is visited by an old friend, Ghodrat (Faramarz Gharibian), for whom he was a role model and protector when they were teenagers. Ghodrat has just been shot by the police when an armed robbery went wrong and is now looking for a safe place to lay low for a while. Hence, he comes to stay with the only person that he could trust, Seyed. However, what he sees is miles away from "the Seyed" that he knew and had in mind. Although they are both happy to find each other after so many years, but Ghodrat is completely shocked to see Seyed, once the ruler of the high school yards and neighbourhoods to have gone, done and became a complete and utterly useless heavy drug user living in a very lowly state of physical and social being.
Seyed is very emotional to see Ghodrat. He is proud of seeing that still some people from the old days believing in and being loyal to him but judging by Ghodrsat reaction feels really ashamed especially when Ghodrat asks where the Seyed he knew of those days has become. Seyed helps Ghodrat by bringing and hiding him in his place, a small room containing only a bed and a Samavar (a type of traditional Iranian kettle) - representative of the extreme poverty in which Seyed is living. They talk about all those years since they were separated. Ghodrat explains he has become a professional thief and Seyed tells the story how he had become an heroin addict after having served only two months in a jail for minor offenses. "The drug was distributed by cleaners in the jail" Seyed says. Once released he couldn't find any opportunity in life due to lack of social support, poverty and "drug dealers being everywhere". He became a full-time heroin user after using heroin outside of the jail during only two alcohol- and drug-fueled parties with local drug dealers.
During the few days that Ghodrat is staying with Seyed, he also meets with Seyed's roommate (Fati) - a beautiful, poor, hard working but romantic girl from the old days that was once in love with Seyed and is now completely disillusioned about the future and considers him just as a brother and a life companion. Ghodrat wants to revive Seyed's pride by reminding him of who he was back then and how being the role model that he was helped him not to fall in drug and alcohol addiction traps during all those years.
Seyed tries to justify his failed life by referring to lack of social and parental support which leads to them exchanging some honest but tough love words about the circumstances that led them to turn out that way and the discussion gets so heated and emotional that they start punching the wall in a show of remaining physical and mental strength but to no vail. "It is too late" Seyed says. When Ghodrat restarts to talk him out of his current state of being Seyed responds angrily by saying that being a thief is not better than being a drug addict. Being in full denial, he thinks that Ghodrat has no right to lecture him about life as "Ghodrat is a thief and doing things against the law".
Ghodrat also witnesses how deeply rooted poverty and lack of basic education affects the daily life of every neighbour in that house and the area. They continue to have more meaningful discussions about the life, lack of education and opportunity in life but no conclusion is really achieved. They are both so sorry about how they have become that they cry at the first opportunity to have an evening meal with Aragh (Iranian-made cheap vodka). Ghodrat knows that his time there is limited and he has to find a way out.
Finally, one day the Police comes after Ghodrat. His picture had appeared in local newspapers as a "wanted and dangerous man" and presumably one of the local people had informed the police of his whereabouts. Local police besieges the house for several hours but Ghodrat does not give up. Seyed arrives home only to find out the grave situation his friend was in, and that it could be getting completely out of hand and result in Ghodrat's death by the 50 or so strong police team. He, therefore, goes out of his way and asks the police chief to let him to go inside the house and talk to Ghodrat with the aim of persuading him to come out instead of getting killed by the Police. Ghodrat strongly asks Seyed not to intervene and to go away. Ghodrat is feeling responsible for the problems that were now created for Seyed and begs him to go away before he is hurt. However, Seyed doesn't listen and chooses to join his friend inside the room. He runs away from the police and gets shot in the shoulder in the process but eventually succeeds to get inside the room where Ghodrat was.
The two long time friend and protege/protector reflect on the current life-ending situation they were both in. After a few minutes, the building becomes under heavy fire but Seyed willingly stays with Ghodrat in the room until the final police raid that results in both men getting killed by explosion. Just before the raid, Seyed looks at Ghodrat and says "I prefer to die by a bullet here in my room with you being there rather than alone under a bridge in a few years time". Not only a show of loyalty to his friend but also a representation of his despair and hopelessness with his life.
Some critics believe that the movie is a deeply meaningful and some how a snapshot representation of the way Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi the last king of Iran, and his beloved white revolution drove uneducated and unskilled farmers into Iranian big cultural and industrial cities and how that socioeconomic revolution was inefficiently managed by the government.
A majority of peasant migrants ended up jobless and many became drug addicts sleeping in over-crowded hostels. Mean while, a minority of the population, with access to the necessary wealth and education, reached meaningful social and economical status which led to the creation of a layered society with small middle class and significant social inequalities that grew significantly from the end of 1960s onwards. This trend contributed to an ever-faster growing gap between the 10% "new" rich & educated and the 90% "still" poor & uneducated parts of the society across the whole country but specially in large cities such as the capital Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan, Abadan and other large provincial cities. Iranian revolution which overthrow the regime of Shah took place in 1978 - 1979.
Dilip Hiro, author of Iran Under the Ayatollahs, said that the film, "passed the censors with considerable difficulty." The film was shown at the Cinema Rex; during one showing the cinema was intentionally set on fire as a terrorist attack during the Irani Revolution.