IMDb - 7.1/10 (48 votes)
The movie consists of three episodes that explore the lives of poor and desperate in Iran. All three episodes examine the futile struggle of the down-trodden. In episode one, a very poor couple with many crippled and retarded children abandon their newly born baby in hopes that the baby will have a better future. In the second episode, a mentally impaired and isolated young man tries to take care of his senile mother who is almost dead. In the third episode, a coward and desperate peddler tries to escape from his boss.
Makhmalbaf has claimed that he had never seen a movie before making his first film in 1982. His early work was made for the Arts Bureau of the Organization for the Propagation of Islamic Thought, which he helped found, and reflected his fundamentalist world view. He burst onto the world scene in the late 1980s with The Peddler (1987), a disturbing, delirious film whose wealth of stylistic influences -- Hitchcock, Fellini, Bušuel, film noir -- suggested that Makhmalbaf had abandoned his militant antipathy to the movies and had undertaken a head-spinning crash course in cinema history. Like The Cyclist (1989), its follow-up, The Peddler drew attention for its intensely affecting mix of visual sophistication, nightmarish tone, deeply disquieting existential allegory, and acute social critique and concern for the downtrodden. Most unsettling to Western viewers, Makhmalbaf's social critique seemed to emanate not from a humanist perspective but from a harshly judgemental moral determinism rooted in fundamentalist Islam. (The Georgia Straight called The Peddler "a justification of an objectionable world view. . . [that] deserves unequivocal rejection"; the V.I.F.F. catalogue noted that the film was "disturbing. . . for its radically anti-humanistic theological underpinnings.")
I have it on VHS so I don't know if I'll download it - probably I'll do, just to have an engsubbed copy handy. It's the movie that got Makhmalbaf international attention, and it's still one of his most amazing - harsher than "The Cyclist". I wouldn't miss it. Some full sources."A film of tremendous raw power that might satisfy those who can take looking at such agonizing subject matters without feeling queasy."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An episodic film by the politically motivated once Islamic fundamentalist leaning Iranian Mohsen Makhmalbaf that tells three bleak stories about social issues in the modern day slums in and around Tehran, with each story more depressing than the other and without the benefit of much humor. This film captures the harshness and cruelty of the human condition. It's a film of tremendous raw power that might satisfy those who can take looking at such agonizing subject matters without feeling queasy. There's a pickled fetus slowly turning in a jar, a sheep slaughtered, and the showing of the elderly left to rot. The point made is that for the poor their struggle is only futile and leads only to an ugly death.
The first story is about an impoverished and uneducated naive couple who are cousins. They attempt to find someone to adopt their newborn daughter. They have three children who were born as cripples and with the birth of their new daughter they are afraid she will also be crippled. There is one frightening scene where the mother is trapped in a children's mental ward and they are all laughing maniacally at her.
The second part is an even more unpleasant tale about a mentally retarded young man who takes care of his elderly invalid, mute, and senile mother. The couple from the first story are briefly in this episode.
The third part is about an Afghan peddler expecting to be killed by the same criminals who supply him, after he witnessed a gangland murder. It plays as a noirish-like fantasy, as the peddler is driven mad by his disturbing visions of his impending death. His panic is induced because his criminal suppliers suspect he might have betrayed them.
Reportedly Makhmalbaf explained that the film dealt with the three stages of existence--birth, life, and death. They are all shot in different styles and with different cinematographers.
Dastforoush (The Peddler)-Mohsen Makhmalbaf (VHS RIP ENG SUB).avi