‘A Dragon Arrives!’ (‘Ejhdeha Vared Mishavad!’): Berlin Review

Director Mani Haghighi’s noirish spook story questions Iranian history.

Puzzling nonetheless entirely entertaining, Mani Haghighi’s A Dragon Arrives! (Ejhdeha Vared Mishavad!) lands somewhere between a mockumentary, a spook story and a hard-boiled investigator yarn, with a splash of Indian Jones tossed in. Set on a surreal-looking dried island of Qeshm in a Persian Gulf, that can double for Monument Valley should a latter ever penetrate into a sands, it playfully throws a handful of characters into a hunt for some implausible law that presumably lies buried in a condemned cemetery.

Of a many questions a film gives arise to, a many formidable one to answer is either all this has a dark meaning. Politics? Oil? The arise of Islam?  The denunciation of story being as potential as it is in Iran, it’s substantially best to only lay behind and suffer a float in investigator Hafizi’s splendid orange Impala.

The Match Factory recover done a splashy crawl in Berlin competition, a large step adult for a executive whose offbeat amicable comedies Men during Work and Modest Reception screened in a festival Forum. Dragon is a lot of fun, yet substantially too chock full of ambiguous references to internal politics, story and even cinema to make low inroads outward of Iran. Though it would take mixed viewings to provoke out all a tract points, it should tempt some-more brave viewers with a twists and turns paced with a lively, pushing rhythm.

It’s 1964 and investigator Babak Hafizi (suave visitor Amir Jadidi) is in trouble. He has been unperceiving and abducted by his possess Agency, and is being interrogated by his stern trainer Major Jahangiri (Kamran Safamanesh) about what accurately transpired on a island of Qeshm.

Things are not as they seem, however, since we are shortly told that Babak and Jahangiri are indeed counter-spies who have infiltrated a Agency, a substitute for SAVAK, a Shah’s dismay tip military network. They are good guys who discharge information indiscriminately to all a country’s antithesis parties.

In any case, Babak looks intensely prohibited in a Blues Brothers fit and shawl and that extraordinary orange Chevy, when he turns adult to examine a self-murder of a domestic restrained sent into outcast on a island. Call it a flashback, described by a operation of dangerous off-screen narrators.

Accompanied by internal gumshoe Charaki (Ali Bagheri), he finds a passed male still unresolved from a wire aboard a rusty boat he has done his home. Oddly, a boat is nowhere nearby H2O yet in a center of a sandy cemetery, yet that’s another story.

Babak realizes during once a male has been murdered, yet that’s a slightest of a mysteries that start to unfold. During a night, after a remains is buried in a ancient cemetery, an trembler knocks him out of bed. Qeshm has had vital quakes before, yet how can they be singular to only one cemetery? As a internal explains, when a remains is buried, a earth opens a jaws wide. Superstition? Metaphor?

But on we go. Babak needs experts who can explain to him what happened, and by another member of his group, a pleasing spy-turned-theater singer Shahrzad (Kiana Tajammol), he finds them. An individualist hippie sound engineer, Keyvan (a long-haired Ehsan Goudarzi) and his cold geologist companion Behnam (Homayoun Ghanizadeh) arrive with earthquake-testing apparel. Apart from anything else, Keyvan’s unusual demeanour is a small disturbing, as it apparently post-dates 1964.

Haghighi himself appears on shade to anxiety an mention from a black and white movie, The Brick and a Mirror, destined by his grandfather Ebrahim Golestan in 1964. There’s also a matter of a rusty box found in grandpa’s house, that initial appears Qeshm. Then he sends his film group out to talk “witnesses” to a story he’s telling, as yet it was all genuine and not only a feeling good story good told.

Houman Behmanesh’s high-contrast lighting gives a island story an heated look, while Amir Hossein Ghosdsi’s spare prolongation pattern lends an outlandish touch, as in a interior of a boat whose walls are lonesome in Persian writing. Christophe Rezai’s soundtrack is a smashing combo of normal sounds and Western genre rhythms.

To diffuse some of a film’s counsel confusion, a series of pointless dates are mentioned analogous to nothing. No primary apportion was shot in front of Parliament on Jan 23, 1965, or on any other date in Iran. 

Production companies: Dark Precursor Productions in organisation with Crossfade Films

Cast: Amir Jadidi, Homayoun Ghanizadeh, Ehsan Goudarzi, Kiana Tajammol, Nader Fallah, Ali Bagheri, Kamran Safamanesh, Javad Ansari, Shahin Karimi

Director, screenwriter, producer: Mani Haghighi

Executive producers: Mehdi Davari, Chavosh Shirani, Lili Golestan, Taranesh Alidoosti, Alireza Bazel, Mani Haghighi 
Director of photography: Houman Behmanesh

Production designer: Amir Hossein Ghodsi

Costume designer: Negar Neati

Editor: Hayedeh Safiyari

Music: Christophe Rezai

World sales: The Match Factory

Venue: Berlin Film Festival (competition)

108 minutes