How often do we see something like Children of Heaven: an engaging movie about simple people living simple (yet fulfilling) lives? There are no explosions, no guns, no fight scenes, no car chases, and no eye-popping special effects.
None of these things has a place in writer/director Majid Majidi's story about how a poor Iranian family copes with the financial difficulties of their day-to-day existence, and, despite the apparent obstacles, remains a happy and loving group. Sound boring? Perhaps on paper, but, on the screen, it makes for an enjoyable 90 minutes because the characters are vivid and sympathetic, and because Majidi's keen view of the human condition is universal.
Children of Heaven opens in the poor quarter of an Iranian city. A 9-year old boy Ali, going home with his sister's worn, pink shoes, which he has just taken to a cobbler for repairs. On the way, he stops at a fruit and vegetable stand to buy some potatoes. He puts the shoes down, and, while he's sorting through a bin, a rag picker mistakenly takes the shoes. When Ali arrives home empty-handed, his 7-year old sister, Zahra, is in tears. What will she wear to school?
Ali has a solution. She goes to school in the morning; he attends in the afternoon. They can share a pair of shoes. Once her day is done, she can rush home and give the shoes to him. Unfortunately, there's not enough time for the swap, and Ali arrives late to his first class. Meanwhile, on a day off, he accompanies his father to the city's wealthy section in search of work as a gardener-work that will pay enough to give the family a little extra money. And, at school, Ali discovers a possible solution to the shoe dilemma. Third place in a foot race is a pair of new shoes. All Ali has to do is beat out several hundred children and lose to only two, and his sister will be happy. The race and its outcome will be as exciting for many kids as anything they've seen at the movies.
Children of Heaven lacks the pessimism and smart-mouth attitudes of the entertainment for kids and glows with a kind of good-hearted purity. To see this movie is to be reminded of a time when the children in movies were children and not miniature stand-up comics. Those anticipating something totally different (louder or more melodramatic, for example) may be displeased by Children of Heaven's uncomplicated pleasures.
``Children of Heaven'' is about a home without unhappiness. About a brother and sister who love one another, instead of fighting. About situations any child can identify with. In this film from Iran, you can find a sweetness and innocence that shames the Power Rangers and violent video games. Why do we teach the kids to see through things, before they even learn to see them?
Children of Heaven- Imdb