Majid Majidi’s films have touched on many themes and genres. The Song of Sparrows sets the human drama into a spiritual parable, becomes a symbol of the splendour and mystery of our existence we live in. His lyrical storytelling always charms the cine goers, and conveys a beautifully crafted tale of a candid, hard-working man who drifts from his path, tainted in the urban farce of the busy city of Tehran. Unarguably, a masterpiece of our times
The Song of Sparrows, delivers an intense and polite morality. The universal theme in an element of circumstances, often elusive, something the modern day struggle of the unworthy phenomenon in the lives of people, living anywhere in large cities, smaller towns, villages or deserts as the poverty has that practical and mystical presence as it brings myriad of emotions, in the conflicts of economic insufficiencies, and we all agree it’s a reminder of how much we wield to these situations in its most profound perceptiveness.
The story revolves around Karim (Reza Naji), who works at an ostrich farm outside of Tehran, Iran. He leads a modest life in his small house with his wife Nargis, and three children, whom he loves and dears to make them happy. One day when he is in the farm, he is asked to return home soon, as his elder daughter Haniyeh has lost her hearing aid. Soon after reaching home finds his son Hussein and neighbourhood children are searching for the hearing aid in their underground water tank, which, because of blockages holds little, nonetheless slurry mud. Karim reprimands his son and others for coming there, but joins them in searching for the hearing aid. During the search his son Hussein and his friends reveal their idea of clearing the slush and raising fish in the hope of becoming millionaires. Karim rejects the idea and discourages them. They eventually find the hearing aid, but Karim discovers the fault in the hearing aid. He approaches the hospital and learns that he has to wait up to four months to get the aid repaired for free, or else he has to go to Tehran city to replace it immediately. His daughter’s exam approach, and he is worried about getting the hearing aid on time.
Just after the time when they are moving a couple of new ostriches into the farm, one of the ostriches escapes as Karim is blamed for the irresponsibility and loss, so he is fired from the farm. Not knowing his future, he travels to Tehran in order to repair his daughters’ hearing aid, which would cost him 350,000 tomans. He finds himself mistaken for a motorcycle taxi driver and thus begins his new profession, ferrying people and goods through heavy traffic of city by-lanes. Though through everyday affair dealing with people and their carriages start to change Karim’s unstinting honest nature, much to the distress of his wife and daughters, often he brings discarded items from the city to his home and becomes greedier and begins to forget about his daughter’s hearing aid. It is up to those closest to him to restore the values that he once treasured.
One day he picks the large pile of junk as he tries to arrange at his home, the pile collapses, breaking his leg causing injuries which prevent him from working. In his recovery, his son begins working as a substitute to his father, to help feed the family. Thus continuing, his son and his friends manage to buy the fish which they earlier spoken about. While transporting some plants to a local farm along with his uncle, the barrel which contains the fish starts to leak. As the boys carry it to refill and fix it, the barrel bursts and the entire fish spill out on the ground. Instead of just watching them die, his son Hussein releases the fish in the nearby water. Karim watches this and feels proud of his son. While Karim is getting healthier, he gets a message from an ex-colleague that the ostrich which had run away earlier had since returned. Karim goes to the farm and watches the ostrich with tears in his eyes.
The Song of Sparrows is filled with symbolism of life, hope, despair and desire. The entire film is shot in a lighter sense, buzzing the day-to-day activity of Iranian family living in the threshold of existence and hope to achieve better. The cast of mostly non-professional actors give us the atmosphere of earthy realism. Majidi elucidate the communiqué as an enigma, because sparrows don’t sing and it has been used symbolically to convey the desire people may have for what it is not even physically possible for them to achieve.
What is obvious and fundamental manifest is poverty experienced by the spirit. In the middle of the movie-Karim suffers from the accident and has to depend on his relative’s support and in one scene, he tells his cousin-‘You put me to shame’. The other interesting scene we observe is when Karim’s son and his friends try to empty the sludge from an old water storage tank to breed fish in it, in the hopes of becoming rich when the fish multiply. The boys’ hard work in attaining what they have set their hearts on restores Karim’s faith and sense of purpose. Their despair and vain attempts to save the fish when their container is broken awakens him, and, in a stunning scene in the back of a moving van, he sings a song to cheer up the boys, reminding them that the world is a dream and a lie. Amidst the intensity of losses experienced by the family, Karim moves on and springs new strength. In the final chapter of the film, Karim, resting with his cast leg, sees a sparrow in his room. He moves from the floor and opens the door to set it free.
You can notice that there is sense of magical craft of Majidi’s story telling ways, a feat sometimes very difficult to achieve. He invites us to examine our own lives, the reflection & its inner conscious and simple as one may say, in its most innocence plea, which is breathtaking reminder in the way we deal with the struggles of everyday life, sometimes with clue and most of it remains a puzzle within ourselves. There are lots of questions asked in the film!! What does it take us to gaze into those small things of life and how does setback affect us and can we retain the goodness in every single odd in the increasing pace of our lives!! Freed lives, Simple questions, barring underneath, no straight answers and just hope there can be possible solutions in making our lives beautiful in the face of the growing onslaught of modernity
Clearly, it is a warm-hearted film of simple virtues and tender grace, a film defined by its humanness, and in Karim we find our solution with his ecstatic fervour touching into our hearts and in Magic Majidi, its delicate and beautiful as the song of a sparrow.