A Cultural Modification of Ibsen's Play “A Doll's House” for Iranian Screen

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Dariush Mehrjui is the key figure in the first New Wave of Iranian cinema, but he is also among those few who repeatedly undertake a very untypical for Iranian cinema endeavor — adapting Western literature for the screen within the framework of Islamic fundamentalist aesthetics. Cultural sensitivity of official ideology makes ‘Iranization’ of the literary work compulsory. In contrast to his fellow film directors of the 1950s and 1960s, Mehrjui adopts a more comprehensive approach to his screen adaptations, in which the original plot unrills in an environment familiar to the viewer, with no ‘other cultureness’ to an Iranian eye. Modifications to the plot in accordance with culture and time specific elements allow the original idea to take on a new meaning in different sociocultural conditions. The article analyzes the film Sarah (1993), based on H.Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House (1879). The author emphasizes that the feminist movements in the West and in Iran differ in time, but are in essence about claiming and securing social rights for women. The film is set in fundamentalist Iran in the 1990s. Differences in time and settings inevitably change the personalities of the main characters Nora and Sarah. Mehrjui’s Sarah is completely devoid of ‘dollness’, hence, the overall atmosphere and the interiors have been domesticated to achieve a fertile setting for the intended goal. Despite those modifications, the message of the literary source remained unchanged and turned out to be relevant for post-revolutionary Iran. The main role in the film was played by Niki Karimi, the brightest star of Iranian cinema of the 1990s. Her chiseled profile, facial expressions, gestures and female intuition helped Mehrjui create a model female character that is still popular in Iranian cinema today.

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Grigoreva Natalia

Associate Professor 

S.A.Gerasimov Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK)
, 3, Wilhelm Pik street, 129226 Moscow, Russia

Author for correspondence.
Email: nloskutova@yandex.ru

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0589-4966
SPIN-code: 2077-4320


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