- The Runner (Davandeh) - Amir Naderi (1984)
1 week ago
Devoted to the discussion of film expression
1. Scavenging and Collecting Bottles
The opening shots show a boy of bout 11 or 12 years of age, Amiro (played with passion by Majid Niroumand), excitedly shouting at a plane that he sees taking off. He seems to be celebrating the plane’s ability to fly to new, exciting worlds. Then the scene shifts to a vast garbage dump, where Amiro, along with other impoverished people, scrounges for salvageable refuse. Here it’s every man for himself, and people are shown fighting over the meager items that they pick up. This is the only scene in the film, by the way, showing women (fully covered, of course, and with their faces not visible).
Afterwards, Amiro’s best friend convinces him that it is more profitable for Amiro to join him and other boys in collecting discarded bottles from the sea. The boys get paid a small pittance by turning the bottles over to junk dealers. Amiro joins them, but again it’s highly competitive, and he gets bullied out of some of his recovered loot by bigger boys. After some time, though, Amiro gains acceptance from the existing group of bottle scroungers, and they even invite him to go bicycling with them.
The viewer is eventually shown Amiro’s home life – he lives alone on an beached and abandoned ship and has to look after himself. He is evidently an orphan. One of Amiro’s passions apparently is airplanes, and he spends all of his spare money buying magazines that have airplane pictures from a kiosk on the waterfront.
One day while continuing his work collecting bottles out in the sea, there is a shark warning. With this scary event Amiro realizes that his other passion, running, would be ruined if a shark were to attack his legs. So he starts looking for another way of making money.
Amiro is later shown having found his new occupation: selling ice water for one rial per drink at a plaza along the waterfront. But, of course, there is still time left over for his passion to engage in footraces with his old friends. One of their pastimes is to chase freight trains, and they do it exhaustively. There is no sense of fair play in these events, by the way, as all the competing boys try to push and trip each other as they race along the tracks.
There are other, more serious, races, too. On one occasion Amiro spends a long time running after a delinquent customer on a bicycle who failed to pay for his drink. After a marathon-like run, Amiro catches up with him and collects his rial. On another occasion, after buying a needed ice block for his work, he is chased by a bigger boy who had temporarily stolen his ice block. Here again his fleetness afoot wins the day.
3. Shining Shoes
Later Amiro has found a new and better way of making money: shining the shoes of café customers who frequent the waterfront plaza. Here he has to avoid being bullied by the plaza café waiters, and he winds up having another altercation with a customer that leads to another marathon race for Amiro.
He does make enough money to buy more airplane magazines, but now it finally dawns on him that he is illiterate and should learn how to read. He registers for a literacy class, and with the same determination that has characterized his other activities, he resolutely sets out to learn the Farsi alphabet and become literate.
4. Coda – the Ultimate Race
The film’s final seven minutes show, in elaborate cinematic detail, another brutally competitive race involving Amiro and his friends. This one is held near the shoreline petroleum waste fires, and the boys are racing to see who can be the first to reach an ice block that has been set at the finish line. This sequence, featuring dreamlike slow-motion footage, shows the boys furiously racing in the oppressive heat to reach that metaphorical treasure at the end. Amiro, who had finished second in the previous train-chasing race, finally emerges triumphant in this one. At the end, all the boys exult in their exhaustive, but somehow mutually celebratory, effort.
"It is a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
. . .
Such ridiculous, camp-tinctured travesties of the kind of people these desperados were and of the way people lived in the dusty Southwest back in those barren years might be passed off as candidly commercial movie comedy, nothing more, if the film weren't reddened with blotches of violence of the most grisly sort."
"This is pretty clearly the best American film of the year. It is also a landmark. Years from now it is quite possible that Bonnie and Clyde will be seen as the definitive film of the 1960s . . ."
EN 1 – Bonnie and Clyde Hook Up
EN 2 – The Gang Flourishes
These escapes were facilitated by their crossing state lines, which took them into another police jurisdiction and out of the legal range of their police pursuers. They also capture a Texas Ranger, Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle), who had been following them, and they taunt him by using their Kodak camera to take humiliating “selfies” with him. Throughout this period, the Barrow Gang is gaining notoriety in the press, and the gang revels in their daring and breathtaking undertakings.
EN 3 – Downfall
While stopping for the night in Platte City, Iowa, they are recognized by a customer, who notifies the police. That night an armada of police cars ambush the motel, and a violent shootout takes place. Buck is mortally wounded, and his wife is blinded by shattering glass. Bonnie and Clyde are both wounded, but somehow they and CW manage to escape the scene in another stolen car. On the road again, CW stops their car at an impromptu camp for the dispossessed and asks for some water. The poor people there recognize Bonnie and Clyde and show quiet reverence for people that have been defying the brutal system that has left them desolate. Then CW takes them to the home of his father, Ivan Moss. Ivan graciously puts them up, but secretly he goes to meet Frank Hamer, who has all along been trying to track down Bonnie and Clyde. Ivan arranges with Hamer to betray Bonnie and Clyde in exchange for a light prison sentence for his son, CW. Some days later, when Bonnie and Clyde are driving back home from the town, they are tricked by Ivan Moss into stopping their car, whereupon they are massacred by a fusillade of bullets from police hiding in the bushes. With that the film comes to an abrupt halt.
RN 1 – Bonnie Meets Clyde
RN 2 – Gang on the Run
When they make the visit, Clyde tries to be cheerful, but the mood is bleak. Bonnie’s mama warns Clyde that he better just keep running. Later, Bonnie also expresses her lost faith,
“When we started out, I thought we was really going somewhere.RN 3 – A Love Fulfilled
But this is it . . . . We’re just going.”
But near the end of the story, after Bonnie and Clyde have made their last escape and have recovered from their wounds, Bonnie recites to Clyde another of her poems, “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” , which is a paean to their desperate drive for freedom and authenticity. One of the stanzas reads,