Tarkesh-Ha-Ye Solh (2001)

Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - Iran   |  
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Review by Tom Vick

Shrapnel in Peace begins with what will be just the first in a series of memorable images. In the middle of the blazing desert a woman clad in a traditional black dress and head scarf determinedly digs the wing of a crashed fighter plane out of the sand, hoists it onto her head, and carries it away. The most striking feature of Ali Shah-Hatami's powerful antiwar fable is the surreal, ravaged landscape in which it is set. In a forest of sheared off and blackened palm trees cluttered with heaps of twisted metal and leftover explosives, beside a polluted lake containing the rusting hull of a wrecked battleship, a desperate group of people pick through the detritus, collecting scrap metal to sell to the local dealer. Given this setting, it's only a matter of time before someone literally stumbles upon a piece of unspent ordinance. Like many contemporary Iranian directors, Shah-Hatami populates his film with non-professional actors, and tells his story from the point of view of a child, in this case a young boy named Jomeh, who lives a Huckleberry Finn-like existence aboard the wrecked battleship in the lake. Shrapnel in Peace is a fierce indictment of the toll war takes on its innocent victims, even years after the fighting has ended.