Movie for the Evening: Feature
“A Moment of Innocence” / original title “Bread and Flower”
To cauterize a wounded soul using public admission the acclaimed film maker, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, uses his art in this filmette. At the time “A Moment of Innocence” was filmed, Makhmalbaf was 38 years old and the incident that is the theme of the movie occurred 21 years before when the film maker was 17. The element of time, which is an underlying dis-truth of movies generally, is critical in this movie where past-present-future are randomly dispersed and confuse the film-maker as well as the viewer.
Mr. Makhmalbaf, as a 17 year old radical, arranged with a female accomplice to divert the attention of a police officer, steal his gun to rob a bank and use the money to feed the poor or plant trees in Africa. This landed the future film director in jail for 5 years. The police officer was wounded in the attack and his life was inextricably diverted to a time of idle waste.
Since Mr. Makhmalbaf does not speak as a character in the movie, relying instead on the actors to play the parts of the principles, we do not know if there is a successful cleansing. The action of the movie is filmed simply, no special effects other then the now fames freeze frame at the end of the movie. Sections of the film, which includes instructions by the police officer turned actor, are introduced by a scene board. The ingenuous behavior of the actors keeps the sense of movie making constantly in play, the view is always aware that this is a dis-truth.
What is accomplished in the end is the sense that this highly rated movie does not succeed because of the inherent problems of trying to faithfully recreate the past. The police officer turned actor is uncooperative and twice walks out on the film. Mr Makhmalbaf’s female accomplice refuses to let her daughter portray her in this film and the actor chosen to play Mr. Makhmalbaf breaks down in tears at the thought of stabbing the officer. Mr. Makhmalbaf preservers through these travails, by creative editing, but the looming Truth is the winner after all.