A Hero: Asghar Farhadi has been contemplating his latest drama for decades

Asghar Farhadi
A Hero: Asghar Farhadi has been contemplating his latest drama for decades

Amir Jadidi, in a recent interview, talked about his first impression of Asghar Farhadi’s drama A Hero and said that it resembles the Farsi adage, “The wealthier, the needier”.

When the filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi, originally proposed the film’s main protagonist, Rahim, a guy apparently perpetually dangling over the edge of calamity, but with a placid manner and look that belies the mayhem he’s straddling, the actor was perplexed.

The director’s cut

“Sometimes individuals who don’t have anything have this feeling of pleasure or acceptance in their gaze because that’s their attitude toward life,” Jadidi says, adding that he recognised Rahim as a frequent character in Iran right away. “Our society has a propensity to accept life as it is, despite its hardship and unpleasantness.”

The roots for A Hero have been blooming in Farhadi’s mind for a long time, well before his debut movie, 2009’s About Elly, and subsequently with his two Academy Award victories for the best foreign-language picture, 2011’s A Separation and The Salesman, from 2016.  He had witnessed the production of Bertolt Brecht’s play Life of Galileo while at university in Tehran in the early 1990s and was particularly moved by “two lines” discussing the concept of a hero.

Asghar Farhadi
“My head was spinning around that notion after I saw that play,” says the 49-year-old director, who began collecting tales in the press about regular people who had momentarily hit the news because of their acts of kindness. “However, it was the component of the narrative about a figure who ascends and drops in a very short period of time that piqued my interest.”

Farhadi claims he always intended to return to Iran after his 2018 film Everybody Knows, which stars Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz and is set in Spain, continuing a cycle that began with A Separation and has seen him shift between his home country and Europe with each movie.

The stance of the drama

There’s a legitimate explanation for this shifting back and forth, according to producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, who has worked with the filmmaker since About Elly (which he released in France before subsequently joining as a producer for Farhadi’s 2013 French drama The Past). Simply said, whenever Farhadi films a film in Iran, one sector of society accuses him of portraying a terrible picture of the nation, while another accuses him of being too pro-regime. “It’s quite difficult for him,” Mallet-Guy explains. “Usually, he’ll attempt to produce a film outside of Iran following a film in Iran, simply to get the atmosphere to calm down.”

Asghar Farhadi

So, upon capturing, everyone realises in Spain and presenting the film in competition at Cannes in 2018, Farhadi returned to Tehran, gathered his thoughts and old news clippings, and started writing notes, which he describes as being like dealing with a “pebble in your shoe that you’re trying to get rid of.” After a few months of working mostly in the early morning until noon (he’s “not an afternoon writer”) and spending most of that time pacing up and down a specific path in his home (which he claims “connects me to my subconscious”), the characters and their backstories, as well as elements of the storyline that he would pin to his wall, began to take shape.

Asghar Farhadi and his career expeditions

Asghar Farhadi is an Iranian screenwriter and film director. Farhadi’s worldwide films, which focus on the human condition and show sensitive and hard stories of internal family tensions, have received critical acclaim. About Elly (2009), A Separation (2011), The Past (2013), The Salesman (2016), Everybody Knows (2018), and A Hero are some of his films (2021).

For his films A Separation  (2011) and The Salesman (2016), Farhadi won two Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, making him one of the few directors in the world to win the award twice. He also got the Cannes Picture Festival Award for Best Screenplay for The Salesman. He won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Picture Festival in 2021 for his film A Hero.

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