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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

A Separation

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

“A Separation” won an Oscar for Best Picture in a Foreign Language in February. Director Asghar Farhadi has the district honor of being the first Iranian filmmaker to ever receive an Oscar.
 
In modern day Tehran, the capitol if Iran, Nadir and Simin are in court to make Simin’s request for a separation and divorce final (for a complete listing of the cast please see the Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1832382).  The judge is patient and asks easy questions but it is obvious that the couple loves each other and is reluctant to move forward.
 
Simin explains that they filed for  an exit visa years before and when it finally came they had more than 100 days to act on it; but time is running out. Simin says there is no future for them in Iran and the judge becomes a little hostile. Nadir explains that he cannot leave because his father has Alzhiemer’s and needs his son to care for him. Simin and Nadir have an eleven year-old daughter as well. So either Simin will have to leave the country on her own, hopefully with her daughter, Termeh, or the whole family stays.
 
The judge decides there is not enough cause for a divorce. When they arrive home Simin packs her bag and leaves. While it seems like she is leaving for good, she moves back into her parents’ home. Termeh stays with her father and grandfather.
 
Simin, however, through a friend, finds a woman, Raziah, to care for the elderly man. Raziah is very observant but she has not told her husband she is working for one man and caring for another all day. She vacillates between coming to work and letting her husband have the job. When the old man soils himself she calls a religious information line  to ask is she is permitted by law to change him; she is given the go-ahead.
 
Nadir meets Raziah’s husband and he seems nice enough and eager. But things get complicated when he does not show up for work. Raziah comes again with her little daughter. When she is not looking the old man slips out to buy a paper. Raziah is terrified and runs to find him.
 
Nadir comes home early one day to find his father tied to the bed but unconscious on the floor. Raziah is nowhere to be found. When she appears Nadir’s anger overcomes him; he accuses her of stealing cash that he has on hand and then he pushes her out of the apartment and closes the door.
 
The situation becomes very complicated by this, relationships and friendships broken forever by lies. When the characters start to parcel out blame, beginning with Termeh, it is laid at Simin’s feet because none of this would have happened if she did not want to leave Iran.
 
The is a movie about not only a separation between man and wife, but between parent and child, between a family and their country, middle class and poor, and a separation blocking communication and understanding on many levels. Raziah’s extreme fear of making a religious mistake is palpable thus there exists a profound separation, a lack of integration, between a faith lived for love and being observant out of fear. The visuals, doors, windows, partitions are seamlessly included to reinforce the real partitions and to symbolize ones we cannot see.
 
The obvious conclusion that the theocratic government of Iran is ultimately to blame for the chaos that develops in this finely crafted and deeply felt film. The film is an analogy for Iran and other totalitarian governments and the story highlights the cracks that such a government creates in a society and culture.
 
How does it end? Do take the time to see it if it is playing in your area or rent it on DVD when it becomes available. This is a movie with a lot of dialogue but not a word is superfluous.

What would you have done if you were Namir and Simin?


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Joan of Arc: 
		<p>Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.</p>
		<p>Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux (southeast of Paris), Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that she later identified as Sts. Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.</p>
		<p>During the Hundred Years War, she led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. This enabled Charles VII to be crowned as king in Reims in 1429. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft. Professors at the University of Paris supported Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvis, the judge at her trial; Cardinal Henry Beaufort of Winchester, England, participated in the questioning of Joan in prison. In the end, she was condemned for wearing men's clothes. The English resented France's military success–to which Joan contributed. </p>
		<p>On this day in 1431, she was burned at the stake in Rouen, and her ashes were scattered in the Seine River. A second Church trial 25 years later nullified the earlier verdict, which was reached under political pressure.</p>
		<p>Remembered by most people for her military exploits, Joan had a great love for the sacraments, which strengthened her compassion toward the poor. Popular devotion to her increased greatly in 19th-century France and later among French soldiers during World War I. Theologian George Tavard writes that her life "offers a perfect example of the conjunction of contemplation and action" because her spiritual insight is that there should be a "unity of heaven and earth."</p>
		<p>Joan of Arc has been the subject of many books, plays, operas, and movies. </p>
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