Ejhdeha Vared Mishavad! (A Dragon Arrives!)
Try to think of a story that mixes elements of detective film noir, bright and garish cowboy movies, supernatural elements that wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of The X Files, political paranoia, and straightforward documentary filmmaking. This doesn’t even come close to an approximation of Ejhdeha Vared Mishavad! (A Dragon Arrives!), the new film from Iranian director Mani Haghighi. It’s 1965, and Police Detective Hafizi (Amir Jadidi) has been dispatched to the island of Qeshm to investigate the apparent suicide of an exiled political dissident. There’s also the matter of numerous disappearances in the small island community, as well as those mysterious earthquakes that plague the local abandoned cemetery.
The story is abruptly interrupted throughout by footage of director Haghighi and his various family members as they speak to the camera. It’s explained that the Haghigi chose to film a story depicting the investigation because a sound engineer who worked on a 1960s film directed by his grandfather (the acclaimed filmmaker Ebrahim Golesta) was a part of the investigation, and was never seen again. These insertions into the main story could easily derail the whole show, but are oddly not at all jarring. If anything, they apply context to what is an extremely involved storyline.
Many Iranian films that receive an international release tend to be worthy character studies in a social-realist vein. This is why Ejhdeha Vared Mishavad! is such a wonderful oddity. The peripheral complexities of the story are firmly attached to the main plot, which then drags them along. The heavy use of flashbacks and the frequent jumps to present-day accounts of the events result in a non-linear storyline, but this is what such an enticingly absurd story deserves.
A pumping soundtrack that mixes electro with traditional Iranian music adds a strange sense of stylish doom: the viewer doesn’t know what the music is alluding to, but it’s probably not going to be pleasant. There aren’t quite so many plot twists as there are instances in which the story veers off in a totally (and tonally) different direction. No matter how true “the true story” that the film is supposedly based upon might be, the end result is a delightfully mystifying treat.
Ejhdeha Vared Mishavad! (A Dragon Arrives!) does not yet have a UK release date.
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