Review: P Like Pelican (1972)
The opening screening of I for Iran: A History of Iranian Cinema by its Creators is a programme of short films including 1972’s P Like Pelican, directed by Parviz Kimiavi.
In just 25 minutes, P Like Pelican is a rich introduction to the national cinema of Iran reflecting both the Iranian New Wave’s visual affinity for Italian realism, coupled with a more general Persian cultural affinity for the metaphysical and allegorical.
The film centers around a hermit who sole contact with the outside world for 40 years has been delivering a dramatic performance of the alphabet to local children who come to gawk at him. However, on this day the letter “P” introduces the idea of a new, almost mythical creature, who has take up residence in a local zoo. For the first time, the hermit leaves the confines of the ruins where he lives to see this pelican for himself.
For the hermit, the pelican is more than itself – it is a metaphor the change in the world that he has missed. For those of us familair with Iranian cinema, which is frankly most of us given how difficult these films have been to see, P Like Pelican is a lovely cinematic gem that is also more than itself. It’s a perfect exemplar of the astounding films of the first Iranian New Wave.
P Like Pelican screens on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 6:30 pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of The Image Remains: Iranian Short Films introduced by Roya Akbari. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit tiff.net.