Far more than a travelogue with pretty pictures, this little-known film won six international awards shortly after its release. 'Iran' consists of spectacular geographical and archaeological footage interspersed with "slice of life" shots, evidencing best juxtapositional editing we've ever seen. This is a buried masterpiece from the director of 'A Man and a Woman,' 'Happy New Year,' and 'And Now My Love.' Lelouch reportedly shot six miles of footage to make this film, which apparently was sponsored by a multinational petroleum pipeline construction firm, as a gift to the Shah's wife. One guesses that international dissatisfaction with the excesses of the Pahlevi regime negatively affected the distribution of the film, a shame, because few films treating similar themes are its equal. The musical score by Francis Lai is a priceless timepiece, resplendent with heavy early-70s euro-pop wah-wah guitar. An intriguing, beautifully crafted, and dynamic film, this visual poem transcends the didactic.
London was swinging in the 60s and so was Teheran, according to this remarkable film by Claude Lelouch. The cinematography is discussed in the Details. I will focus on the propaganda aspect - this is one of the best propaganda films I have seen from that period. We learn nothing of land reforms and other reforms. The focus is on culture - heritage, modernity and (what soon would be named) Westernization. Past and present meet - veils and miniskirts, camels and helicopters, remains of ancient Persia, the highlights of Islamic art and the oil fields. The Shah looks good in white and Farah Diba is seen in the Farah Diba hairstyle. This charming couple didnt' copy Europan royalty, rather appeared as an Eastern equivalent to Mr. and Mrs. John F. Kennedy - Pax Americana had succeeded Rule Britannia. The Pahlevi dynasty was a young one, but here the Shah is depicted as the modern link in an old tradition. Many emperors have used this trick to establish a dynasty, or at least their own position. By this time the picture of Iran was changing. There was more talk of political refugees than of hairstyles. Some years passed. Came the the Islamic revolution, and Westernization was banned. Very soon it was about good or evil, black or white. This film has the quality of being both entertaining and evoking the big question of our time.