The word “gabbeh”, in Persian, means a particularly colorful type of rug or carpet, and one would be hard-pressed to find an inspiration for a film plot from a type of carpet, but that’s exactly what the Iranian film Gabbeh does. Gabbeh is about a young girl, who magically sprouts from a gabbeh that an elderly couple are washing in a creek, and her desires and family ties and aims to find a suitor. One might wonder how a girl who magically comes out of a carpet can have a father and mother, let alone a suitor, and in just about any other whimsically magical film, this would be reasonable to believe in the universe the film resides in. Not so for Gabbeh, however, and it was my main qualm with the film.
Despite the film’s aims to be a fairy tale, the presentation and mood of the film are very much grounded in reality, which makes the fairy tale and slightly supernatural aspects of the film seem rather unbelievable. Normally, for a fairy tale, that’d be a good thing, but the film is contrary to its own aims and desires; it is a real-world film that spontaneously has unexplainable magical elements to it, and like I mentioned in the opening, it doesn’t run parallel to the type of world the film has created. More than anything, the film’s goals seem to be the toying and playing with color. There’s a sequence near the beginning where a man in front of a blackboard introduces each significant, vibrant color to a group of children, magically manifesting it in or on his hands. It seems to serve no purpose to the film’s plot, but it perfectly encapsulates the film’s true nature and methods. The use of color is truly the standout of this film; there is color to be found all over the place, and a tranquil beauty that is unmatched by almost any other film I’ve seen from the list so far.
I can see how this made the list, easily, but I’m still unconvinced that this was worth the watch. It was just too disjointed a mood for me; it was almost like the film had a disagreement with itself over what type of film it should be, so the resulting film is like a mash-up of different elements. It’s very short, though, so even if you’re unsatisfied by the film, it doesn’t take too much of your time. Overall, I was pleased with the visual aesthetic this provided me; it was never uninteresting to watch, it was just confusing to rationally comprehend. If you’re looking for a visual treat, this will satisfy your needs, but try not to think about it too much, or you may end up just scratching your head, like I did.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10