Iran Film Tourism

Iran film tourism! Is it possible?

Living without cinema and film is futile! I have been pondering on the topic of tourism and its link to cinema for a quite a long time, but I couldn’t find any. At first, I though to make a film on tourism, which after some calculation, I found it costly. Then the idea of arranging a meeting between the film locations and film crew came to my mind. I asked some of my friends, however, since they have to idea about cinema, they were unable to help me out! Shoot!

Film Tourism in the world

That’s when the google stepped in! I surfed the net and came across hundred pages of movie-themed tour, film-themed tour, and film tour in different parts of mother earth. I got excited, but it didn’t last long. No block-buster movies were made in Iran, nor great filmmaker or cinema auteur chose part of Iran as her film locations after Iranian Revolution. Asghar Farhadi, who won the Best Foreign Language Film Award twice, has no specific or detectable film location. I mean you can’t put your finger on a certain spot and claims that the shooting was here. The viewers might be able to feel the spirit of Tehran in Farhadi’s movies; yet one cannot locate it. Farhadi thought and style have been dominating and imitating the Iranian cinema over the last decade. So, I had to go back in time to spot what I had on my mine. And that’s where Abbas Kiarostami popped in. yeah! It is him I have been seeking for.

Film tourism Koker Trilogy of Abbas Kiarostami
Where Is the Friend’s Home?

Film Tourism in Iran

Abbas Kiarostami, the poetic image maker, was fond of road film. Bang! I have the road. It is the first connection to Travel. His characters are discoverers! Bang! Travelers love to discover new things. And above all, the films have specific film locations, for instance, Koker Trilogy. So, I got the main thread and I could develop it into a bigger idea.

Click here to read Koker Trip.

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Hitchhiking to Hormuz Island – Part One

Hitchhiking to Hormuz Island is everyone dream. Everyone talks about Hormuz Island and its beauty, but you should see it on your own to believe it. After all, as the proverb goes, “seeing is believing”. The idea of visiting colorful Hormuz Island has been on my mind for a long time, but I was waiting for the best visiting time, February. 

Hitchhiking to Hormuz Island
Checking the route to Hormuz Island

I called for hitchhiking trip to Hormuz on my Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/the7beauties) and within 24 hours received numerous responses. My buddy, Muhammad Qanjal, and I picked the qualified travelers. Since it was a long hitchhiking trip, nearly 1,300 km, from Tehran to Bandar Abbas, it was necessary to select the patient ones.

Hitchhiking from Tehran to Isfahan – Scrambled Eggs

My travel buddy, Elahe (a girl name meaning “the goddess”) and I join the group in the evening to start our new adventure. This time our hitchhiking trip is different because we take north to south route in Iran. We were 14 hitchhikers, including Elahe and I. We got late, but luckily we were second to get a ride. The first impression is the last impression in hitchhiking, so always wear a smile on your face. A truck driver pulled over and I went after it and opened the door. A kind truck driver showed up and curiously asked where we were going. I quickly noticed his accent. He was from Shiraz, the city of poems and flowers.

Initially, he was a little surprised to see us, especially me with a large red backpack. He kindly asked us where we were heading and then said, “Hop on”. Elahe got on the truck first and helped me with the backpack and then I quickly got on. It was an easy hop on. In fact, we dragged us up! We introduced each other to him. His name was Saeed. He was from beautiful Shiraz, but he was heading to Isfahan that day. He played some old romantic Iranian music for us while we enjoyed the horizon. we passed Mamuniyeh, Salafchegan, Hesar-e Sorkh, Delijan, Mouteh Wildlife Refuge, Meymeh, Vandadeh, Murchehkhort, Shahin Shahr.

After sunset, near Isfahan, he pulled off to offer us something to eat. He brought the pan, the small portable cook and some bread. Elahe got the pan and cooked us quick Scrambled eggs. Saeed dropped us at Moallem Freeway at Isfahan and bid us farewell.

Hitchhiking to Isfahan - The Seven Beauties
Scrambled Eggs inside the truck…Yummy

Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Nain – Getting Stone

This was the difficult part of our trip. Since tomorrow was a national holiday, the streets were literally emptied from trucks. Most of truck drivers are off on national holidays. Therefore, we were forced to hire a car in Snapp App to the very beginning of Isfahan- Nain road. We paid 2 dollars to get there. It was getting more and more difficult to get a ride, let alone a free ride! However, we never lost our hope. We were determined to get to Shahr Babak, our meeting place tonight.

Cars and trucks passed us with at a fast speed and the pushed us the cold wind to our faces. We walked for a while to reach the lights we saw a head of us. The lights were not the lights from the houses, but a restaurant. We were lucky because there were nearly ten trucks there. Cheerful as we were, we paced up. We did not want to lose our chance at such a dark night. Elahe and I head to trucks. Some had no drivers on. Some refused to offer us a ride.

Hitchhiking to Nain - The Seven Beauties
Greenish Blue Benz Truck

All of a sudden, we an old greenish blue truck, an old Mercedes-Benz short-bonnet trucks, aka Khawar, in Iran. It was so beautiful. The truck was decorated with numerous things. A man of late 50s showed up and we asked for a ride. He was a sheepish man with a dark jacket on. He had a short gray hair and blue eyes. He said, “I am heading to Tabas. So, I can just take you to Nain.”

We were as happy as a lark, although a long way was a head of us. He was not much of a talker because he was an opium smoker. While Elahe had a short snap, I seized the time and scrutinized the different things in the cabin while the opium smoke was in the air. I was literally stoned! He dropped us at Nain ring road after midnight. A pitch-black road!

Hitchhiking to Nain Isfahan- The Seven Beauties
Passive Opium Smoker

Hitchhiking from Nain to Yazd – A Ride into the Darkness

Darkness was all we could see. I wore my headlamp and resumed my path. We could hear dogs’ barking far away. Three or four sedan cars passed us speeding. We were not in a light spot to be visible. Elahe began to cracking jokes to raise the spirit. She is very funny from time to time and she did it on the right time. We stood near the streetlights for roughly twenty minutes. It was about one in the morning. Who would stop for a couple on after midnight on almost desert road? A humanist, maybe.

Up on the road, a Mini Truck Isuzu began to appear. I rose my hand and a few meters a head of us, it stopped. I was happy and scared simultaneously. Two men were in the vehicle. Usually, I do not go for a truck with two passengers on, but I had no choice. They curiously asked our destination. They were from Yazd. The accent was revealing.

Surprised to see us at wee hours, they began to ask several questions about Elahe and me. I tried to be alert all the way to Yazd and kept talking about any topics available despite the overwhelming sleepiness. While the driver was friendly and kind, the other guy was too nosy. Frankly speaking, I felt a little unease with him. The road lingered on and on as if it was endless. Seeing the road sign written Zarach on it, we decided to get off.

Hitchhiking from Zarach to Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque – Lightness in Horizon

After getting off the truck at Zarach Meydan Velayat, I was relieved a bit because of saying goodbye to the nebby guy. Up ahead the road, on the right side, rest a group of trucks. We headed toward them with sleepy faces and shivering bodies. Four or five of them did not even bother to answer our greetings at that ungodly hour. Almost all track drivers turned blind eyes to us, expect a couple. Two young men, one 21, and the other 27, inquired about our affairs cautiously. I quickly told them our destination. They were heading towards Shahr-e Babak, our very destination. My prayers were answered. Hurrah. Our happiness did not last long because they said, “We are going to stay at Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque, after Mehriz for sleep”.

Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque Kerman, Iran - The Seven beauties
Desperate for a nap at Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque

Loaf of bread is better than none. I felt safe with them, so I slept for a while. I was waken up by the driver’s voice. “We got to Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque”. The yellowish red hue appeared at horizon, as the sun began to rise. Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque was a life saver. Elahe and I dragged our wearied bodies with heavy steps towards the mosque. Into the mosque, we entered. It was packed like sardines. We squeezed ourselves between the sleeping people and in a blink of an eye we were in arms of Morpheus.

Hitchhiking from Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque to Anar –Short but sweet

Persian says “Sleeping is a rose” and indeed it is. I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. We slept for 4 hours. By the time we woke up, the mosque was almost empty. The sun was shining lightly and the sky was clear. We had bread and cheese for breakfast and hit the road again. I posed for the pictures and Elahe took a nice shot of me. Almost after 15 minutes, a sedan car pulled up a few meters a head of us. A young couple with big smile offered us a ride to Anar city in Kerman.

Hitchhiking to Anar Kerman- The Seven Beauties
Hitchhiking to Anar, Kerman

Hitchhiking from Anar City to Sirjan – The Curvy Hills

Soon after waving goodbye to the friendly couple, a lovely Sirjani guy picked us up. He was driving on the road from early day from Yazd and was heading toward Sirjan. The weather was awesome and the sky was clear. Every now and then, two or three fluffy clouds made a shade and passed slowly. As we passed Shahr-e Babak, the road began to curve and rippling hills started to appear.

Hitchhiking to Sirjan kerman - The Seven Beauties
Anar to Sirjan Road

The mountainous pass is a perfect place for photographers and nature lovers. I might go there for biking and camping some day! On the right wing of the road, there lied small one-storey houses made out of stones and soils. It seemed that a river used to flow there. One could see the mud cracks along the road. The name of the city was, Zeydabad. It seemed a lovely city. But, we could not stop. We had a higher goal. The driver kindly served us some dried nuts with hot tea.

Zeydabad Villlage, Kerman
Zeydabad Village, Kerman

Hitchhiking from Sirjan to Bander Abbas – Fast and Furious

If you want to take a taxi or hitchhike from Sirjan to Bander Abbas, Imam Ali Square is the best place. The taxi fare from Sirjan to Bandar Abbas is 3 dollars. We were running out of time. It was 2 p.m. in the afternoon and we had a ticket for Hormuz Island at 17:00 with Bandar Abbas Ferry Boats. Three hours might not be enough. Unfortunately, the taxis were not there. It wasn’t surprising, it was holiday, after all.

Bandar Abbas Road
Road from Sirjan to Bandar Abbas

While Elahe and I were crossing our fingers to get there on time, a sedan car, a couple with a 4 year-old girl offered us a ride. They were Sirjani. They warned us about the potential dangers of hitchhiking on the road. But, it was daylight and we were immune to possible dangers. Soon after he heard we would be late for the ferryboat, he drove a little faster but with lots of care.

Hitchhiking to Bandar Abbas Iran
Weird shape Mountains on the way to Bandar Abbas

It was a 310 kilometer drive. But, you couldn’t drive fast because it was mountainous and curvy. It even had tunnels! Zagros Mountains stretching from northwest of Iran, Tabriz ends here at the Strait of Hormuz. The mountains were in different shapes and colors. I was so immersed in watching them that I wished it never ended! We got there Port martyr Haqqani at 17:20 despite the speeding.

Bandar Abbas Entrance - The Seven Beauties
Bandar Abbas, Iran at Sunset

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Hitchhiking to Shiraz – Part Two

Hitchhiking to Shiraz – Sightseeing in Shiraz

Hitchhiking inside the city is literally impossible. So, using Al Pacino’s phrase in Donnie Brasco “Forget about it”. Anyway, let me give a tip for better photography. While you are in Shiraz, try to wear bright colors. Yellow and pink are top priority because the tiles are mostly pink and yellow. In this case, you will be matched with tiles and your pictures will be more beautiful. Colorful scarfs are available there for women for beautify themselves and color their photo while on travel.

We visited Vakil Bath, Vakil Bazzar and Vakil Mosque. Each has its own beauty and style. You can’t have a bath in Vakil Bath. It is a museum right now. But you could be familiar with the architecture and the culture of Hammam. In Vakil Mosque, the spiral columns are a perfect place to take artistic photography. I am an amateur, of course. We met two Turkish travelers who took pictures with Yalda and Mahsa.

The Seven Beauties - Vakil Mosque
Mahsa and Ehan Ates in Vakil Mosque, Shiraz

Pars Museum is another highlight of Shiraz one shouldn’t miss. The paintings inside the Pars Museum are marvelous. The tomb of Karim Khan Zand is there, too. It is a small museum but it totally worth visiting.

I really love the space between the Vakil Mosque and Arg-e Karimkhan. Tables and chairs in the open space are lovely for relaxing and having something to drinks.

The medieval-like fortress in the middle of Shiraz built during Zand dynasty was our next stop. Bitter orange trees surrounded the fountain inside the Arg. The amorous smell were there as well. I couldn’t cease to smell blossoms’ mind-altering smell. 

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Arg-e Karim Khan
Relaxing time at Arg-e Karim Khan

Next was Madrese e-Khan or Khan School. The school was a two-story building like the one I saw in Oudlajan, Tehran or Agha Bozorg School in Kasha. But, this one is more beautiful than the two others are. Palm trees and dancing of fountains in the yard created an splendid view. While we were there, we met a group of French travelers. They were four. Three women and a man. I spent some time talking to them about Iran culture and lifestyle. When I see a traveler, I become talkative. They were patient enough to listen to my words. They were heading to Isfahan, Kerman desert, Varzaneh and Kashan. I wished them nice and safe trip and then we said farewell.

French travelers in Shiraz met The Seven Beauties
Lovely French Travelers at Khan School, Shiraz

Qavam House or Narenjestan Garden is so beautiful you can’ stop falling for it. The colorful flowers, green trees and sound of water soothe your body and soul.  While you are inside the mansion, look up to see the decorated ceilings. On the second floor, you could see the images of western women surrounded by the images of flowers on the ceilings. The mirror-work’s on the first floor is striking to watch. No wonder it was registered under the Persian Gardens on Iran UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Qavam House Shiraz
Intoxicating Qavam House in Shiraz

Next to Qavam House, there is beautiful traditional house which is called Zinat Al-Molk House. It is not as eye-catching as Qavan house; however, it has its own beauty. Besides, it is close to Qavan house. It takes 15 minutes to visit it.

French couple at Zinat Al-Molk House
Another lovely old French Couple in Shiraz

Tomb of Saadi and Tomb of Hafez

Literature is my life. I can’t live without it. Reading Hafez and Saadi is one of the most pleasurable activities I have ever done. Their poetry is so rich in philosophy and worldview that their reputation go beyond the Iranian border. Goethe, one of the greatest German poet, openly confessed Saadi Shirazi’s influence on him. And Hafez’s influence in Iranian daily life is inevitable. Having said that, seeing them was like seeing old friend who helped me through sadness and laughed with me in my happiness. I lost myself in the poetic atmosphere and began murmuring the verses quietly.  

The Seven Beauties meets Tomb of Saadi
Meeting Saadi was an exciting moment for me
Tomb of Hafez with The Seven Beauties -
Meditating with Hafez

We returned two Arg-e Karim khan area to have dinner at Qavam Cafe & Restaurant. The food was yummy. I ordered Kebab Tabeii with special sour mayonnaise on it. Oh my God! I highly recommend it. It was soooooo delicious! We talked over the dinner about our hitchhiking back to Tehran.

Hitchhiking from Shiraz to Sa’adat Shahr – Indecent Proposal

Tight schedule always increase the pace of your travel, particularly on hitchhiking trips. We decided to hit the road at night. At least cover one third of our path to Tehran. We got a taxi to the first police station outside the city. It is eight kilometers away from Quran Gate. You can find it on google map. Its name is Traffic Police Station. I never risk hitchhiking at night, especially in the lower part of Iran. I don’t want to generalize that the lower parts of Iran is unsafe. No, not at all. But, when the night comes, the darkness may lurk at the corner.

While Yalda and Mahsa were determined to begin our trip to Isfahan, I had butterflies in my stomach.  But, I kept the spirit up. We thumped up. A truck driver stopped. He was heading to Tehran. What a chance! We hooped in. He was not alone. His son was with him, a pre-school quite boy. Yalda and Mahsa were in the backside and I sat in next to the driver. He spoke Arabic on the phone. He was from Ahvaz. Ahvazi people speak Arabic. I didn’t understand Arabic. The presence of the child assured us that we are safe. He was a man of family. We could trust him. I began a conversation and tried to get as much information as possible. By getting info, I could knew him better.

After 30 minutes’ drive, his phone rang and he handed it to me and said: “My brother is on the phone. He wants to talk to you.” He had told me that his brother is driving another vehicle just behind him. But, I had no idea why he was eager to talk to him.

-Hi, how are you?

Me- How are you? I am fine. Thanks for giving us a ride.

-you are welcome. Can one of you come with me? I am alone and I need someone to talk. Ask one of the girl to come here.

Me- (surprisingly) Ok. But…they seem asleep. I will join you. But I warn you. I am talkative. (With a laugh) I might talk your head over.

-Okay. No problem.

I said goodbye and handed the phone back. I never wanted to send either Mahsa or Yalda alone to the other vehicle. It was unwise to do that. The truck stopped in a parking area next to road. He got out of the truck and checked his wheels. I shared the news with my friends. Yalda interrupted me and said” It is fine with me. I go there. You stay here.” I asked her if it is ok two or three times. Yet, her answer was the same. I respected her answer, although I was worried. A truck stopped behind us and went toward him to have a quick evaluation. Yalda got her backpack, climbed down, and then got up the other truck. I climbed up and  I was about to close the door that I saw Yalda next to the door. I was shocked. She worriedly asked me to get down. I knew something went wrong. She told me that the driver asked her get laid with him. Yalda is a strong girl. I knew her well. I looked back and said to the diver that we preferred to be together. I guessed he knew it. He didn’t flinch at all at our decision.

When the trust broke, the silent came over. A deadly silent. I was worried and scared. What could I do if she was hurt? It was big mistake to let her go on her own to be with the driver’s brother. Anyway, I asked a driver to turn on a music. Might music replace the suffocating atmosphere. I have tried to engage the driver into a conversation on the recent flood in Ahvaz. Luckily, he took the lead and began talking and taking.

Meanwhile, we cooked up a story to get off the truck. Mahsa’s uncle was in Shiraz and he was coming back the same night. The phone rang and Mahsa told him to stop at the nearest city, Sa’adat Shahr. The driver bought our story. We dropped off at the police station. I asked the driver to come with me and gently told him his brother indecent proposal to Yalda. He knew it of course. But I wanted to throw it to his face to know that we are travelers, hitchhikers and adventures. However, we are not into shady things such as drugs, murder or sex and they were wrong about us. Hitchhiking might sometimes get hard and it was one of those instances.

Hitchhiking from Sa’adat Shahr to Isfahan – Long Ride to Sunrise

The trucks left and stood for a while to shake off the negative feelings. It was the first time I have ever encountered such a misconducts. It is hitchhiker after all. Anyway, a young man pulled over and offered us a ride. He claimed that he was working in a police agency in Tehran. I asked for his ID. I had to be cautious this time. He showed it to me and I felt somehow assured. 

He was from Borazjan, the capital of Dashtestan County, Bushehr Province. He was an employee in a special police force in Tehran, but he despised his job. He confessed that they made him and his fellows into mad dogs attacking anyone in uprisings or riots against the government. He introduced some interesting places in Borazjan and I jotted it down into my notebook to google it later on. I felt sleepy and I fell asleep. So did Mahsa and yalda. He woke me up at 6:45 A.M. next to Soffeh Terminal in Isfahan. I thanked him, exchanged phone number, and said goodbye. We used the toilet in Soffeh Terminal and had biscuit and fruit juice for breakfast. Then we got on a bus from Soffeh Terminal, in the southern part of Isfahan to Kaveh terminal, in the northern part of it. The bus fare was 20 cents per person.

Standing there was a mistake. Neither cars nor trucks stopped for us. I searched the net and found the police station outside of Isfahan, Shahin Shahr – Kashan Police Station.

Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Abayneh Village – Unexpected visit

We took a taxi to get to Shahin Shahr – Kashan Police Station. Every cars stopped for us asked for money. Isfahan seems un-hitchhikable. We paid 2 dollars to get there which wasn’t expensive. Out of surprise, a sedan car pulled over. Two girls were in the car. I welcomed us with a big smile. Kimia and Paria were heading to Abyaneh on their own. They were beautiful and lovely to hang out with. Their friendliness made us accept their offer to Abyaneh Village. The weather was awesome. There were some clouds in blue sky but the sun was shining brightly.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Abyaneh Village
Having Ash with Kimia and Paria -Two super-friendly sisters

I met several international travelers from Poland, Hungry, France and China. In order to thank them for a ride, we bought Ash for them and had some fun. A couple asked me to take a picture of them and I did. I love to take pictures. After strolling for an hour, we said goodbye and headed to Kashan.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Portuguese travelers
Portuguese Travelers in Abyneh Village – Kashan

Unfortunately, the cars were full. It was a religious holiday. Never travel in Iran on national or religious holidays. The chance of getting ride is low. As usual we began walking along the road. It was useless. People passed us waving their hands. We walked for 20 minutes. And out of luck a car stopped. The man got out. He was the same person I took picture. What comes around goes around. It is a Karma, I guess. They couple offered us tea and cookies. They stopped at Anar Boulevard because they were heading to Badroud.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Abyaneh Village
Karma in Abyaneh Village

Hitchhiking from Kashan – Qom – Tehran

After 10 minutes, another young couple stopped for us. They looked like rich. Both of them wearing snazzy baseball caps. They were heading to Nushabad, the underground city in Kashan. We dropped off at Nataznz – Kashan Pay toll. Best place to get a hitchhike to Tehran. Cut a long story short, we hitchhiked from Kashan to Qom and Qom to Tehran.  It got home at six. P.M. and took a shower and hit the bed.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz was a different experience. It had its own joy and danger. It taught us a good lesson. Never hitchhike at night. Never trust easily to drivers with children. On general, Iranian are hospitable. It is undeniable. But, be alert and cautious.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Farewell Moment – Tehran

You can read the first part in the following link

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Hitchhiking to Shiraz – Part One

Hitchhiking to Shiraz with The Seven Beauties

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Me at Tehran Metro Station

Nothing is more temping than Shiraz in late May or April. The weather is awesome. It is sunny with a light caressing wind. On the top of that, the blossoms of Narenj (Bitter Orange) fill the air in a way that it will intoxicate you. Its amorous atmosphere in Persian Gardens is a unique phenomenon should not be missed. On this travel, two of my female friends from Semnan joined me. Mahsa (is a Persian name means “Moonlike”, Mah means “Moon” and Sa mean “like”) and Yalda ( is a Syriac word means “Birthday”) are the two active eco-travelers in Iran. They are friendly and tireless. It is a long trip so your co-travelers should be in good shapes. So are Mahsa and Yalda. Our trinity is complete. Let’s go to Shiraz….Yeah.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Me, Yalda and Mahsa

Hitchhiking from Tehran to Qom – Green Plains

Our starting point was Tehran-Qom highway Toll Booth on Persian Gulf Highway. It’s a best point for hitchhiking to the south of Iran. Our meeting place was set: in front of Toll Booth at 3:00 P.M 29th of May 2019. I left my workplace at 13:00 ant took the subway station to get to Tehran-Qom highway Toll Booth. I go there early so, I had a sandwich for a lunch and slept for a while in a praying room next to the pay toll. They arrived there at 15:10 P.M. and we then hit the road.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Yellow and Red Flowers

Large vehicles such as trucks are not allowed to use this highway. Therefore, you should get a ride with cars. We thumped up for short minutes and a middle-aged woman in a SUV vehicle stopped for us. Her name was Roya (an Arabic name means “dream”). She was friendly and funny. She was heading to Arak to visit her friends. She offered us a ride to Qom and we accepted it.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Singing in the car to Qom

Qom is a dry land. I have passed this highway lot of time. But something has changed. The dry hills alongside the road were all green filled with small yellow and red flowers. It was unprecedented. Many cars stopped to enjoy the view and took pictures. The landscape was spectacular. The amazing landscape shortens out trip. We go to Qom in a blink of an eye! We dropped off at Qom – Tehran Police Station next to end of Tehran – Qom Highway. We waved goodbye and wished her safe trip to Arak.

Hitchhiking from Qom to Kashan – Friendly Couples

Kashan is our next destination. As I expected the possibility of getting a ride to Isfahan from Qom is low. This time a couple pulled over for us. They were from Kashan. Both of them were educated. I had visited Kashan a month ago. But, I like to visit it once more in mid-April. Rose Festival is coming!

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Hitchhiking to Shiraz- Lovely Kashani Couple

We engaged into a conversation about the beauties of Kashan and other visiting places around nearby such as Abuzeyabad Desert. They introduced a cozy Tea House in Kashan, named Firozeh Tea House. I have never been there, but I will put it on my list to taste the herbal tea there. You can contact them here on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/firoozeh_kashan/

Our dropping off location was at Qom – Kashan Freeway. It is nearly 5 minute drive before Kashan entrance.

Hitchhiking from Kashan to Isfahan – Isfahan Driver Guide

At Qom-Kashan Toll Booth, you could get a ride by trucks. But, we were lucky to get a ride with a sedan. The driver, Mohammad Hashemi, was a guide-driver returning back to Isfahan after dropping his travelers at IKA, Tehran. We talked about the ups and downs of tourism industry in Iran. He was a retired man but, he chose to work in as a tour guide as a fun. He suggested a less-visited place in Isfahan named Zefreh Hot Water Springs in Kuhpayeh District, on the way to Nain. It seems like an interesting place to me. I put it on my bucket list. He was so kind enough to call me next day to make sure we arrived safe to Shiraz.

Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Pasargadae – Long Talk, Long Ride

We dropped off at Kaveh Bus Terminal because he was heading to the city center and we did not want to hit the city traffic. The taxi drivers standing an shouting for the passengers are expensive. I decided to get a taxi on Snapp to the road where trucks were available. It cost us 31,000 Toman (Nearly 2 dollars) to get from Kaveh Bus Terminal to Esfahan-Shiraz Traffic Police. You cannot get a hitchhike in cities. Therefore, you should get yourself to the pay tolls or police stations outside the cities. 

Esfahan-Shiraz Traffic Police is situated between two mountains. Three trucks pulled over in order to rest. It wasn’t dark because the full moon was in sky. One of the truck drivers there started to gaze at us strangely. I guessed he had never seen a hitchhiker in his life, particularly two women and a man. I must confess that Mahsa’s bright yellow manteau was not suitable for hitchhiking. It’s better to wear something loose that covers your back, upper than your knees. Anyway, a truck stopped. I asked for a ride.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Pasargadae

He was totally shocked by seen us. I talked him into it. After introducing, I began to explain about our travel type. He was taking in slowly and slowly. It was something he has never seen. I did my best to persuade him into that we are not gonna hurt him. It was 400 kilometers drive. I had a long way to show our aim: travel, and fortunately I did.  We passed cities such as Mahyar, Esfeh, Shahreza, Aminabad, Izad Khast, Shurestan, Abadeh, Bidak, Surmaq, Safashahr and Morghab. Mahsa and Yalda slept for a while, but I had to stay awake. I had to be cautious at any time.  We dropped off in front of a restaurant, at the corner of Pasargadae path. While we were walking toward the Pasargadae, a car stopped. We had decided to camp near Pasargadae area, but the driver persisted on hosting us. We accepted it. Iranian hospitality is second to none.

Hitchhiking to Pasargadae – The Tomb of Cyrus, the Great

We slept like a log. Budgerigar’s singing woke me up in the morning. After a long travel and sleep, hearing melodious singing of a bird was like heaven.  Mr. Azad and his wife were kind enough to ready breakfast for us. Then he accompanied us inside Pasargadae. He knew the ticket seller. He just said, “Hi, how are you?” and we passed the gate. He pulled his string for us.

Since my visit to Chak Chak in Yazd, I have not felt so elevated and happy by stepping into a place. I felt an underling joy lurking beneath my skin. Each step meant a huge delight. Mr. Azad warned me not to kneel down. It is prohibited to do that before the tomb of Cyrus, the Great, the kings of kings.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Cyrus, The Great at Pasargadae

We got our pictures taken. We visited the other historical sites in there; Audience Palace, The private Gate, the Gate Palace and Pasargadae Caravanserai. The entire area was covered with green plains and yellow flowers. It was fantastic. I felt so good to see Pasargadae. Mr. Azad’s cute daughter was with us during our visit. I bought a hat for her as a present. I  knew it was nothing in compared with what they did and offered. However, I bought something to show my appreciation. 

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Mr. Azad and His cute daughter

Hitchhiking from Pasargadae to Naqsh-e Rustam – Necropolis

Necropolis is not far from Pasargadae. A young man named Hamid stopped for us. He was from Abadeh. He was so kind to stop at Sivand Dam for a short stop. The river made the area green and beautiful. We head towards the Naqsh-e Rustam, the Necropolis. I could see it from 5 kilometers away at the foot of the mountain. It took nearly 45 minutes to arrive at Necropolis.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Sivand Dam in Shiraz

These ancient Persian rock reliefs cut into the cliff, are from the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods. The tombs of Achaemenid Kings are in large cross shape carved into the rocks. I am wondering why it has not been registered on Iran UNESCO World Heritage Sites yet. It is so unique and marvelous. Down these tombs, there are Sassanid rock reliefs.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Hamid from Abadeh at Naqsh-e Rustam

Groups from different parts of the world were there visiting these marvelous place. I came across a group of young students from University of Basel, Switzerland, with archaeology pamphlet on their hands. They were on field trip, as one of them claimed.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Naqsh-e Rustam or Necropolis in Shiraz

Hitchhiking from Naqsh-e Rustam to Persepolis – The Capital of Persians

Persepolis wasn’t so far. It was 15 minutes ride. We got on the back of a pickup car. I missed pick-up cars! It is so much fun to be the back of the pick-ups. We got off at Marvdasht Sq. and picked up again. This time by a family from Khuzestan.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Lovely Family from Khuzestan at Persepolis, Shiraz

It was crowded because of the religious holiday. But I didn’t care. It was good to see people are coming for visiting an ancient place belonging to 2500 years ago. I met Mr. Keramt Bordbar, the head of Persepolis Museum, a close friend of mine. He exclusively explained the museum for me. What a pleasure. He has repaired most of the objects in the museum; therefore, he knew the very details to the end. We are gonna run a business together soon. Very special program in Shiraz for travelers.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Mr. Keramat, the head of Persepolis Museum in Shiraz

Travelers from various countries such as United States, Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic etc. were visiting the glorious Persepolis. I met interesting travelers there. Here are my pictures with these travelers.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Travelers from Czech Republic at Persepolis, Shiraz
Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Spanish Female Travelers at Persepolis, Shiraz

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
American Travelers at Persepolis, Shiraz

Hitchhiking to Shiraz – Persepolis to Naqsh-e Rajab- Marvdasht -Shiraz

We left Persepolis at around 5 p.m. The ideal time for visiting Persepolis is half a day. We got to Naqsh-e Rajab, five kilometers away from Persepolis. Then head to Marvdasht with BMW. Yes, a hitchhike with BMW in Shiraz!

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Hitchhiking to Shiraz with BMW!

Abbas, a Shirazi man, offered us the best Faloodeh Shiraz on earth ever! Its name is Momtaz on the main Boulevard of Marvdasht. We dropped off at the end of Marvdasht city, at the beginning of Marvdasht to Shiraz road.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Faloodeh Shiraz…YUMMY

Then a young boy heading to Shiraz picked us up. He was smoking pot in a car! But he was alert. He looked a little suspicious. We felt something was fishy. He persisted to offer us a place to sleep after 15 minutes. I managed the situation to we could get off at the right place after passing Qur’an Gate. It was almost dark when we got to Shiraz. We were hungry and tired. We headed to Haft Khan Restaurant, but it was super costly. A dish of Kebab costs nearly 15 dollars. It costed an arm and a leg! Shit! We left there and found a restaurant next to Qur’an Gate. It was fine. I was so hungry that I forgot to took a picture of the food. Sorry, I have nothing to share here.

Best Place to Camp inside Shiraz City

I had googled a lot before travelling to find a place for a night. There are several parks in Shiraz where you can hang around and have fun. However, you are not allowed to camp in there. The only place in Shiraz where you can put up a tent is in Janat Park. It is in the west part of Shiraz. The taxi fare from Qur’an Gate to Janat Park was nearly one dollar.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Janat Park is the best place for camping in Shiraz

You should enter the park. Go straight ahead. Turn left on the second alley. Walk to the end of alley. There you can see the parking area. Next to the parking area, you can put up your tent. The park is completely safe. There were other tents there, as well. Public restroom is available, too. No smell was coming to our tent. We put up our tent and slept before we knew it.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Camping in Janat Park, Shiraz

Sightseeing in Shiraz – Early Bird Catches the Worms

The best time to visit Nasir-ol-molk Mosque or pink Mosque is early morning. You should be there at the very opening hour to fully enjoy the dancing of colors. AKA pink mosque, this Qajari Mosque has become a sensation in Iran. Photographers and travelers are rushing to pink mosque in order to get the best shot possible. We woke up at 8:00. Packed our stuff and headed to Nasir-ol-molk Mosque on the empty stomach. It was crowed, but I was able to take photographs. Those who arrived there after 10 p.m. are losers. So make sure to be there soon.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Dance of Colors in Nasir-ol-molk Mosque in Shiraz

After photography, we headed to a small café in Rouzbahan Street, in front of Abu Muhammad Sheikh Ruzbehan Baqli’s tomb. We orderd omelet. It was delicious and cheap. Mrs. Rasti is the owner of the café, a young woman with a good taste in cooking. You can contact her through the link below. She is not good at social media. I spent some time to update her Instagram page, add address and photos. It felt good to help developing business for her. Make sure to visit her there while you in Zand Street. She provides breakfast, coffee, herbal tea and cold drinks.

You can contact Miss Rasti in the link below

https://www.instagram.com/shahramcoffeeshop/

Mahraloo Lake – Pink Lake in Shiraz

While we were having breakfast, we decided to visit Maharloo Lake, in the southeast of Shiraz. We were tight on schedule, but we reached the agreement to skip some visiting place in Shiraz in order to visit this naturally pink lake.

Hitchhiking to Shiraz - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar
Maharloo Lake AKA Pink lake in Shiraz

Maharloo Lake is pink because of potassium and other salts. We got a taxi to go there and come back. The clock was ticking. We could do the hitchhike, but we did not. Time was gold then. It took us three hours to go to Mahrloo Lake, take some pics and come back to Vakil complex.

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Seljuk Station by Bahram Beyzai

Seljuk Station by Bahram Beyzai - The Seven Beauties - Ebrahim Barzegar

Seljuk Station is a screenplay written by Bahram Beyzai in 2000. In this screenplay Beyzai focuses on the life a French woman searching for fertility.   

Where is Seljuk Station?

Seljuk Station is an gas station in an ancient city of Ephesus, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. The city used to be one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Greek era, but later on after invasion of Seljuk Turks in 12th century, its name changed into Seljuk. Seljuk city is one of the top tourist attractions of turkey filled with archeological sites particularly Temple of Artemis. 

Who is Cybele?

Cybele or Artemis was the goddess of fertility in ancient Greek. The Cybele Statue in Ephesus Museum is a small statue in a sarcophagus-like shape with two animals (Stags) next to her feet. Her multi breasts emphasize her fertility and potency of giving birth.

Seljuk Station Plot

Isabel and Francois were travelling to Ephesus to adopt a child in a war-stricken village of Turkey on Isabel demand, since she is infertile. On the way to Istanbul, in the early morning, on a gas station in Seljuk district, Isabel got off the bus to use the toilet, while Francois was asleep in the bus. Two young boys teased her by occupying the toilet before her. When she left the toilet, her eyes caught the glimpse of the store next to gas station and stepped toward it. All of the sudden, she realized that the bus was moving. She ran after the bus, but it was in vain.

Left alone in gas station, she tried to get help from the locals. However, no one understood her. No one spoke French. She tried English and luckily, one spoke back. One tried to give her a ride in his car but the local warned her against it. He was notorious for being womanizer. Wrapped in blanket giving by the owner of the local shop, she sat on the ancient plinth close to the station, hopelessly.

While she was alone, she began to think about her husband behaviors and attitude toward her resolution: adopting a child. The situation began to go awry as her fears turned into nightmares. Her emotion became over her so much that she even blamed her husband for being left alone. Suppressed voices of unconscious welled up and made her had a second thought about her life.

Meanwhile, her husband, François, attempted to back for her with all difficulties. Isabel constantly dreamt Francois was coming back with a child, but it was a pipe dream. When finally, he came back, Isabel made up her mind and got on another bus and left him. She could not bear the situation anymore. The modern East where all the magic was gone disillusioned her. Along with that, she realized that her husband has prevented her to achieve her goal. 

Seljuk Station Review

Bahram Beyzai , as usual, uses a historical place or historic moment as a jumping board for his narrative. In “Seljuk Station”, Beyzai excavates into the life of French couple visiting the magical East to adopt a child. According to Francois, he is not going to adopt a child from a Germany, Italy and Russia because they are the child of Nazism, Fascism a Communism, respectively. He was against the Turks or Kurds too; however, Isabel talked him into it.

Isabel was desperate to have a child. She taught that East was the same thing she had read in books and stories. But once, she was there, it became dawn on her that she was wrong. The modern East has lost its charmed taste. This disillusionment was paralleled with reevaluation of her husband and her life with him. Her nightmares were nothing but her wishes and fears. Wishes for a child. Fear of being raped. Dreaming of uniting with her husband plus a child captured her body and soul to the verge of nervous breakdown.

Similar to all other Beyzaie’s screenplays or plays, the female protagonist made an important decision that is rebelling against the status quo and made her free of all the masculine shackles.

Quick Facts about Seljuk Station

  • Full Title: Seljuk Station
  • Author: Bahram Beyzai
  • Type of Work: Screenplay
  • Genre: Drama
  • Language: Farsi (Some English Sentences)
  • Time and Place Written: 2000
  • Date of First Publication: 2000
  • Publisher:  Roshangaran Publication
  • Point Of View: Third Person
  • Tone: Straightforward
  • Setting (Time): Circa the publication
  • Setting (Place): Ephesus, Turkey
  • Protagonist: Isabel
  • Major Conflict: Isabel attempts to adopt a child in Turkey
  • Rising Action: Isabel missed the Bus to Istanbul
  • Climax: Isabel got on the bus alone and left her husband
  • Themes: knowing the truth about her life; Pregnancy is impossible; Huge gap between her and her husband, The magical East is gone
  • Motifs: Nightmares and dreams, Smoking, Road
  • Symbols: Cybele Statue
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Capernaum: Struggle for Hope

Capernaum Film Poster

Capernaum Film Poster

The Middle East has been struggling with wars for the past 60 years. Daily news on the Middle East particularly Lebanon is an inevitable fact. I am living kilometers away in Tehran, Iran. I am safe here, despite all the prejudice and political-oriented news broadcasted on Western TVs. However, I can’t suppress my anger for war and all the bloodshed and injustice inside and outside of my country.

Iran states television channels broadcast Arab refuges in Syria and Iraq. People are getting used to seeing these violent images which is a huge regret. Human being is getting to see another of his own kind losing his home or getting hurt or killed on daily basis. Was Nietzsche right when he cried out “God is Dead?” Because it seems the world is moving toward the dark valley. But, every now and then, one seems to seek a lightness and hope out of this miserable world. This time Nadine Labaki, the renown Lebanese actress orchestrated this optimistic perspective.

Nadine Labaki in her new film, Capernaum, delves into the lives of the miserable in ghettos of Lebanon and their struggle to survive. Arial shots of shantytown and children’s smoking and playing with plastic and wooden guns in a slow motion, as the gloomy music is on, is the entry of viewers into the world of Capernaum. An overview of the shabby streets filled with garbage and car tires on the roofs from the up looks like an earth with a small black holes. The camera zooms out and a district appears. All in a unicolor of khaki, without a single bright colors.

Philosophical Perspective of Capernaum

Zain El Hajj is shown on courtroom sentenced to five-year prison for stabbing which really surprised me. But, what came after, to be honest, was a real shock. He sued his parents for bringing him into the world!

Capernaum Quote

His question has a philosophical perspective. It questions the concept of the “choice” which a child, a human being, has no control over it. He didn’t ask for it and yet he is paying the tolls. A Heavy one. Isn’t it unfair? If parents can’t afford any things for their kids, why they are breeding so many? Zain asks for the great measure. Zain’s father, Selim, played by Fadi Kamel Youssef, revealed in the courtroom that his upbringing thought him that his children would support him when they grow up. This is what life is. This deep-rooted attitude is widespread in the entire Middle East. Parents in Iran has the same notion and expectation. One has always expected something for doing something. However, in the modern world, where life is getting hard and harder every day, parents shouldn’t have a second thought on having a baby?

Zain parenting Yonas in Capernaum
Zain parenting Yonas in Capernaum

As a subplot for Zain life, we see a mother fighting for life, too. Tigest Ailo (Playing by Yordanos Shiferaw) the illegal Ethiopian refugee in Lebanon has a huge difficulty with keeping his cute son under such a harsh circumstance.

Having impersonated herself as an Rahil, she works illegally in a restaurant to make ends meet. After leaving home, Zain met Tigest in restaurant in an amusement park. She keeps his baby in a women’s toilet to keep her job. Her house is nothing but a space walled with layers of tins. Zian, reluctantly, became her babysitter. He had no choice. Cut the long story short, police finally arrest her for carrying forged resident document and put her in the most notorious jail in Beirut, Roumieh Prison. A space which later on Zain joined as well. Zain stabbed his brother-in-law because of killing his beloved sister, Sahar, acted by Cedra Izam, after getting her pregnant. She was only eleven years old. She couldn’t bear a child at that age.

Never Lose Hope

Zain, despite his naivety, fights to the ends. While he was living at home, he was working hard. When he left home heartbroken, he took care of Rahil’s son, Yonas. Once he tempted to leave Yonas next to street, but his consciousness didn’t allow him. As the pressure became unbearable, and dreaming of travelling to Sweden got into his mind by Maysoun, a Syrian refugee (Played by young Farah Hasno) manipulated by Aspro (Alaa Chouchnieh), the forger of the documents, he finally succumbed. He sold Yonas to get the money for his travel to Sweden.

All in all, Zain’s struggle in this dark world is admirable. So does Nadine Labaki’s creation of this touching tale. The film is a real food for thought. I highly recommend it to film lovers and movie buffs.

Nadine Labaki Zain Al Rafeea Photo
Nadine Labaki Zain Al Rafeea Photo at Cannes Film Festival

One more thing. When I heard that Zain is now living in Norway and going to school like other kids, it became happy. I hope all kids would be able to have proper upbringing so we could have a better world.

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Behind My Name

Nizami Ganjavi, one of the most important Persian classic poet who I truly love, writes Khamseh. His collection Khamseh or Panj Ganj (Five Treasures) consists of five separate manuscripts in the Persian language all gathered in a single volume. These five sections are all versified in the form of long poems with rhymed couplets, or Mathnavi. Khamseh recounts the most celebrated, delicate and eldest romantic stories of the Persian language. Khamseh registered in Memory of the World in 2011.

One of the five books is The Seven Beauties (Haft Peykar) revolving around the story of Bahram Gur, a well-known Sassanid King. A king who goes on a long spiritual travel within seven days with seven beautiful women. Written at the late 12th century in Iran, The Seven Beauties contains rich Iranian culture to which Islam is highly indebted.

The Seven Beauties Poem

I choose the seven beauties because first of all it is a piece of literature related to my major. The seven beauties reminds of the seventh art which is cinema since it is filled with images. Last but not least, the seven beauties is the story of Bahram Gur travel through seven domes with seven women. The book is so rich one can take thousands ideas out of it.

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Who I am

I am Ebrahim Barzegar, 33 years old. I graduated in English Literature from Alborz University in Mohammadiyeh, Qazvin. Literature pumps new blood into my life, so I further my education and received my M.A. in English Literature from Guilan University, Iran. During all these years, I have been working as an English Instructor in different English Institute in Tehran. Literature opens the doors to other arts for me, especially cinema. I fell in love with images talking hundred works. As a result, I decided to do my thesis on literature and cinema. The mysterious world of David Lynch attracted me so much that finally I did my research on his films. After graduation, I continued my reading and writing on literature and cinema. I have been writing different articles on literature and cinema for the last five years.

Ebrahimbarzegar

But, in 2015, I developed a new adventure, travelling throughout Iran. Literature and cinema took me through the world, now it was time to experience it from a close range. I started to discover Iran tourist attractions and read as much as possible to get authentic information. Then I enrolled in Tour Guide courses in tourism and fortunately after passing a series of exams, I received my official Tour Guide Certificate authenticated by Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran.

I launched my own website to share my ideas with literature lovers and movie buffs in relation to Iran Travel. And since I am deeply passionate about Literature and Cinema, I start to organize Persian Literature Tour, Iranian Cinema Tour, and Iran Sufism Tour in Iran. Mount Damavand Trekking Tour is my forte because I am originally from Nandal Village next to Mount Damavand, the highest mountain in the Middle East which plays an important role in Persian Mythology and history.     

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A Gift from Ingmar Bergman to David Lynch: Troubled Psyches

Twin Peaks

If one could choose a major recurrent theme in Ingmar Bergman’s film, that would be, undoubtedly, a troubled psyche. Bergman has been exploring the human psyche from the very beginning of his film career which lasted for nearly six decades. His mastery over probing the deep layers of human’s soul has greatly influenced the American filmmakers, particularly David Lynch. 

David Lynch has repeatedly acknowledged Bergman as one of his favorite filmmakers of all time; however, it seems it is more than that. Being known for his weird, eerie dreamlike films, Lynch, too, shows an immense enthusiasm in digging up the soul and mind of his fictional characters. Of course, this soul reaching is rooted in his what he figuratively calls is fish catching, “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” Lynch, similar to Bergman, attempts to push his bottom where repressed desires and malicious darkness lie. Therefore, reading Lynch through a Bergmanesque filter will contribute to an expanded understanding of Lynch’s aesthetics and visual and thematic proximity of these two great filmmakers.

Bergman’s influence upon Lynch is so substantial and profound that one could claim that Lynch is the surrogate figure of Bergman in American cinema, but much darker and more sinister. Exploring the disquieting side of psyche of both his characters and their dwelling town, Lynch attempts to show the hidden layers of American life, borrowing Roland Bathes’ idea of demystification, he demystifies the American dream and reveals its hideous and dreadful spirit. 

Mulholland Drive could be taken as a greatest reverence of Lynch towards Bergman. There are several similarities between Mulholland Drive and Persona.   Persona is a psychological drama revolving around the relationship between two women, Elizabeth Vogler and Alma. The former is a successful actress who is hospitalized for a nervous breakdown with symptoms of “muteness and a near catatonic lassitude” and the latter is the pretty young nurse who is in charge of her care. These two characters through some mysterious process exchange identities. The issue of identity crisis and transformation also echo in Mulholland Drive, an amnesiac brunette (Laura Harring) and an aspirational blonde (Naomi Watts) with shifting identities. Bergman displayed the mysterious identities of his characters in two ways. The first is through the mirror exercise where the initiator and responding character is almost impossible to pin down and the second one is the metamorphosis, a process of transformation of the characters. The idea of flux identity is similarly expressed in Lynch’s film. The wounded and traumatized brunette who is unable to remember anything including her name _ after taking shower she picked up a name, Rita, from the poster of Rita Hayworth on the bathroom wall through the mirror shot. Later in the film, Betty put on a blonde wig on Rita’s head in front of the bathroom’s mirror and then said “You look like someone else”. It seems that Betty perpetually provides identity for Rita and she passively adopts it. The question of identity reaches its climax after the lovemaking of Rita and Betty in bed. It’s where Lynch imitates what Bergman did in Persona: merging the faces of the two female characters in one shot. Unification of the faces of characters in these two films is considered a really important turning point of narratives.

After Rita and Betty visual and physical coupling, they enter into a mysterious club known as “Club Silencio” where the Magician performs on stage. The show is all an illusion, La Grande Illusion ever! The world where living, Betty, and the dead, Rita, are so close to each there that is impossible to distinguish which is which. Betty’s trembling in the club is an exact echo of what the magician, Albert Emanuel Vogler played by Max von Sydow, did in The Magician (1958), “He calls you down, he calls you forth, beyond the dead, the living, the living dead.”  Rita, Betty and the Club Silencio are the precise reflection of these concept, respectively.

Surrealism of Mulholland Drive could be traced back to the weird visual and narrative composition of Hour of the Wolf (1968). Mulholland Drive could be separated into two parts: Betty’s dream and after her waking up. So does the Hour of Wolf. The first part is quite realistic, whereas the second part is filled with surrealism qualities which is the reflection of the disturbed psyche of the protagonist.   Painter Johan Borg (von Sydow) is haunted by demons and images of his former lover, Veronica Vogler (Ingrid Thulin). Parallel plot could be found in Lynch’s film and narrative. Betty is an artist like the Johan Borg and her life is haunted by her former lover, Rita, who left her to joined the young director, Adam Kesher (Played by Justin Theroux). Projection of demons and wild beasts in Hour of the Wolf corresponds with the weird characters of Lynch’s film such as the dead man behind the café which through the technique of surrealism could be best pieced together. Given these facts, Lynch is the heir to the psychic world of the Bergman ’worldview in America. The green light of the American dream which beckoned J. Gatsby is now turned into a green-eyed troubled spirit feeding upon itself and its surrounding world. Betty, the broken doll of dream factory of Hollywood, encounters the rotten soul of Hollywood and by her own volition she walks beside it, hire a hitman to kill her ex-lover and in the end, commits suicide herself. While the troubled psyche of Bergman’s characters is the result of lack of spirituality and faith, the characters of Lynch’s films are not related to any spiritual metaphysics, in a sense they are the victims of the larger rotten dream, a dream that in the end reveals itself to be nothing but a dreadful nightmare.   

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