A Moment of Innocence (1996)

Makhmalbaf’s freeze of time | 78 Min

Movie Info


A Moment of Innocence (Persian: Nūn o goldūn) is a 1996 film directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. It is English translation is ‘Bread and Flower’.

This story is a memoir of the director Mohsen Makhmalbaf who was 17 years old during Iranian revolution. He stabs a Police officer in order to get the man’s gun in defense. Mohsen himself being anti-Shah and his support for the revolution take him to the prison, and in that spur of incidence he would have succumbed the shot with the policeman and Makhmalbaf wound each other.

Two decades later, Makhmalbaf make the decision to track down the policeman whom he had injured in an attempt to make amends. A Moment of Innocence is a dramatization of that real event. As we know to set the truth and tell the fact from fiction needs lot of gumption. The narration is quite a documentary in nature. In this Iranian New Wave entry, though it is much easier to ascertain that the film is something of a masterpiece. The story of this project’s genesis is extraordinary in itself: director Makhmalbaf, who spent five years in prison as a teenager for stabbing a police officer during a political rally in the late seventies, encountered the very same police officer (Mirhadi Tayebi), now unemployed and looking for work as an actor, some twenty years later at a casting call. The two subsequently decided to collaborate on a film that would revisit the scene of the stabbing, exploring its personal, political, and moral implications for both parties concerned, then and now; A Moment of Innocence is the fruit of that collaboration and what a touching moment this ought to be in each other’s life, an unimaginable pragmatic hinterlands and so are the times…..

A Moment of Innocence is primarily concerned with memory and viewpoint. The policeman remembers every detail of the incident, as it has haunted him for 20 years. He wants the young actor to understand everything about who he was and how he felt to ensure his story gets told accurately. The policeman instructs the actor playing him on proper officer decorum, the surrounding area of his old post and the emotional process of falling in love with a woman to whom he wanted to give a flower before Makhmalbaf stabbed him and the man never saw her again. He works from deeply ingrained memory. At the center of both accounts is a teenage girl (played by Marjam Mohamadamini, the woman’s daughter) who would ask Tayebi for the time and directions every day, a gesture he took as romantic while Makhmalbaf considered her an accomplice to his crime. This in a method similar to the perspective of Akira’s Rashomon- a Moment of Innocence adds a personal dimension that’s uniquely its own, as Makhmalbaf’s investigation into the past evolves into a touching act of contrition. On a more universal scale, he questions the use of violence as a catalyst for positive social change

Unlike Salaam Cinema’ Makhmalbaf’s earlier venture, which was a documentary (though one with the deck stacked against its subjects), Moment’ is a fictional film, although the cast is playing themselves, the staging of many of the sequences becomes innately disrupting. Whenever the actors are pretending not to notice the camera, we’re made all too aware of it, since the movie’s self-reflexive nature heightens the artificiality of the situation, but doesn’t seem to encompass the fact that much of the action is scripted. Where Salaam consistently demonstrated the way that the unscripted complexities of real people could best almost any fabricated drama, in Moment of innocence, Makhmalbaf tries to make a scripted statement about the nature of movies, memory and regret. Though he profoundly addresses these and other themes such as the generation gap and the effectiveness of political violence, he doesn’t skirt between the realms of fact and fiction quite as effectively as he managed to in Salaam Cinema.

Makhmalbaf’s execution here owes something to the French nouvelle vague, with its abrupt, playfully self-reflexive revealing Godard’s influence. But what makes the film especially engaging on its own terms, and lends it a tremendous amount of heart, is its mingling of the real Makhmalbaf and Tayebi with the young actors they cast as themselves to appear in the film-within-a-film reenactment (Ali Bakhsi as Mohsen and Ammar Tafti as Mirhadi; Maryam Mohamadamini as the young cousin of Mohsen present at the time of the stabbing). Rather than simply dramatizing the events of the past with these young actors, Makhmalbaf allows Bakhsi, Tafti, and Mohamadamini’ s own personalities and ideals to inflect the way the story is retold, producing variously confusing, whimsical, and heartbreaking results.

A Moment of Innocence display of how both the characters feel instead of trying to absolve themselves. This in a real tense is what the director confirms the symbolic image and the film freeze to the infinity. This is a cinematic triumph and a display of the true desires of the actual people involved and visualizes penitence for past and present anger. It may be the most powerful freeze-frame I’ve seen in a film, beating out even the finale of Close-Up, in which Makhmalbaf helped facilitate reconciliation. Not only does the image make peace between the two men, it unites the people of Iran, pro- and anti-shah, in nonviolent, empathetic terms. It is a unifying vision of the Iranian people beyond politics and nationalistic identity.

Although the film was banned in Iran, Western critics were very positive toward the film. Film critics called A Moment of Innocence “a dizzying hybrid of autobiography, documentary, and a bold attempt and situations of human emotions can touch the highs and lows with the wonderful final freeze-frame since The 400 Blows — maybe the greatest final freeze-frame ever….

Special mention about this movie with Jury Award in Locarno 1996 and is the second-highest ranked Iranian film of all times …….


The Team

  • Directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
  • Produced by Abolfazi Alagheband
  • Written by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
  • Casting: Mirhadi Tayebi; Mohsen Makhmalbaf & Ali Bakhsi
  • Music by Madjid Entezami
  • Cinematography: Mahmoud Kalari
  • Editing by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
  • Studio MK2 Productions & Makhmalbaf Productions
  • Distributed by NFM Distributie
  • Release dates:13 August 1996 (Locarno Film Festival)
  • Running time:78 minutes
  • Country: Iran
  • Language: Persian

Trailers & Videos


A Moment of Innocence Trailer

Makhmalbaf’s freeze of time

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