Nearly eight years after its release, I finally rented this movie produced in my native country, Iran, and watched it with my wife. My expectations of this movie were quote low. I have rarely found Persian entertainment, well, entertaining. The music and the movies have never made much impression on me. growing up in Iran as a child I often watched western movies. Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, and Lee Majors were my favorite actors during adolescent times. Star Trek (yes, the original series), dubbed in Persian, was perhaps my favorite TV show. Actually it still is.
Children of Heaven was the first Persian movie that captured my interest from the beginning and kept me interested all the way to the end. My admiration for Majid Majidi, the director, and the cast and crew of the movie for crafting such a fine work of cinematic art.
The movie focuses on a brother and sister of childhood age living in relative poverty in a destitute section of a Tehran. I grew up in relative comfort in a middle class family, so I never tasted poverty personally, but it was always around us. Indeed I saw plenty of salt merchants, like the one depicted in the story, wandering the streets.
The movie isn't so much about poverty as it is about how these two kids try to solve a problem that had befallen them. The boy had inadvertently lost her sister's shoes, and their struggles to honorably solve this problem was the center-piece of this story.
There were no political messages, no declarations of injustice for the poor, and certainly no preaching. Instead the viewer is invited to look at this problem through the children's eyes and develop an empathy for their predicament.
Tehran has a large population and the difference in classes of the haves and the have-nots becomes especially visible in this movie. When the father and son travel to the northern part of the town (where wealthy people live) in search of work, one can't help but ask why some people can live in so much excess, while others scrape bottom just to have a simple meal. I saw many such examples during my childhood and it never fazed me. Perhaps it's one of those things that one gets acclimated to being surrounded by it all the time.
For me, the biggest (perhaps inadvertent) lesson of this movie was that the world we live in is an unjust world and no amount of self-serving political speeches and religious sermons will ever change that. Trusting in God and leaders is but an exercise in futility. It's up to us, the people of this world, to bring that change about.
I highly recommend watching this movie with your family. It is as entertaining as it is educational. The movie is in Persian with English (and I presume your country's language) subtitles.