Psychoanalytic Criticism of Majid Majidi's the Color of Paradise

Published: 2021-09-13 19:30:09
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Psychoanalytic Criticism of Majid Majidi's The Color of Paradise
The Color of Paradise (known as Rang-e Khoda in Persian - literally "Color of God"), directed by Majid Majidi, is an Iranian film that is wrought with psychological contrast between the 2 main characters, Hashem and his 8-year-old son Mohammad, who is blind. Hashem and Mohammad are two souls, each representative of the past and future of the other and each undergoing a process of individuation and transformation as described by Carl Jung. Hashem is motivated throughout the film by his desire for a life of satisfaction and security for him and his family, while Mohammad is driven by his quest for "The Real," as described by Lacan, which, in Mohammad's case, is to "know" God.
The Color of Paradise begins only after the words "To the Glory of God" appear on a black screen and the screen remains black for a few minutes, while we hear the voices of boys and their teacher as radio music plays in the background. Majid Majidi begins his film by giving us the aural experience of a blind person before substituting a visual one for all those who can see. The soundtrack remains important throughout the film with its alternating chorus of woodpeckers, wind, birds, insects, rain, footfalls, and rushing streams, as these are the sounds through which Mohammad "sees" the world.
The action of the film opens in Tehran at a school for the blind attended by Mohammad. It is the end of the term and Mohammad is waiting for his father to pick him up so that he can return to his small village near the Caspian Sea for the summer holidays. When Hashem arrives late and first begs the school administrator to keep Mohammad for the break, we are given our first glimpse into the anxiety with which Hashem navigates the world. When the administrator refuses his request and rebukes Hashem for attempting to shirk his responsibilities, it is not long before the viewer witnesses manifestations of Hashem's castration anxiety. Hashem feels deep shame about his son's disability. He feels that his son's blindness is a reflection of his own manhood, that to have produced an heir that is imperfect and, perhaps, unable to care for him when he is old, makes him less of a man. Several times throughout the film Hashem is faced with the option of saving Mohammad from danger or allowing him to fall out of a tree (this incident takes place in the first minutes of the film), tumble down a ravine, or drown. In the first two incidents Hashem hesitates and ultimately chooses inaction, although Mohammad remains safe. In the third incident, Hashem hesitates but chooses to act, although his hesitation has dire consequences for Mohammad and for himself.
Hashem attempts to hide his son's condition from all through avoidance. He avoids relationships with the other men in the village, for fear they will judge his manhood. He misinterprets the advances of the other children in the village toward Mohammad as cruelty and contempt, rather than the friendly playfulness they actually are. Hashem projects his fears onto his son and, though he loves Mohammad, treats him with resentment. We learn that Hashem, who is a widower, intends to remarry and that his betrothed does not know of Mohammad's existence. Hashem fears that her family will perceive Mohammad's blindness as a bad omen and will not allow the union.

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