The Color of Paradise (1999)
Written and directed by Majid Majidi. Starring Hossein Mahjoub, Mohsen Ramezani, and Salmeh Feyzi. 90 mins. Rated PG.
In several remarkable sequences, in utterly gorgeous landscapes of mountains and meadows, streams and sun, a blind boy exults as if he were Adam new-born in the Garden (where all is “pleasant to see” Gen.). Ten-year old Mohammed senses (mostly through touch and hearing) a plangent depthless glory in all he cannot see: in wind and sun and birds and all sorts of textures—from pebbles in a brook to seed nodes on a wheat stalk (31:07-32:00; 40:16-41:40).
Indeed, so entranced is the boy that he tries to “read” the tactile nodes and pebbles to see what message they might spell from the divine. Remarkably, the blind boy “sees” with his fingers and ears more delightedly, fully, and deeply than those sighted people, and most every one of them, who take creation as just “stuff” and use vision simply for navigation. And when he visits the local school, he reads from his Braille copy of the text, fitting lines that describe his deep sense of the world all about him (46:34-47:17).
Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi displays what occasions Mohammed’s delight in everything, over and over again, making sure those blind-and-dumb sighted audiences get the point. Indeed, let the stones cry out. Very rarely has cinema so captured the posture of perpetual delight that should be a central ingredient of how lovers of God approach daily life and every moment therein. It is no surprise, then, that some critics suggest that the title is more aptly translated as “the color of God.” God’s presence abides despite and amid the horrors, yes, certainly, and then some, in a world with a surfeit of “glory,” as American filmmaker Terrence Malick has put it. There is indeed the over-arching, all-too-constant mystery of evil, but there also the mystery of a delight that comes in countless forms. There is a Lord of Song, as Leonard Cohen calls it in his now renown “Hallelujah,” and David the scoundrel also proclaims, and there is also, thanks be to God, a Lord of Light and color. Indeed, there is wonder enough for the wonder of belief.
written by Roy Anker