English Title: From Karkheh to Rhine
Original Title: Az Karkheh Ta Rine
Country of Origin: Iran
Studio: Sina Film
Director: Ebrahim Hatamikia
Screenplay: Ebrahim Hatamikia
Art Director: Mahmoud Kalari
Editor: Mohammadhosein Daroshafaee, Hosein Zandbaf
Runtime: 93 minutes
Starring/Cast: Farzaneh Asgari, Ali Dehkordi, Nikel Gril, Noorbert Hanzing, Andrias Kortez, Asghar Naghizadeh, Hans Noiman, Homa Roosta, Sadegh Safaee, Majid Safavi
Saeed, is an Iran-Iraq war victim who has headed to Germany for his eyesight treatment, comes across his sister, Leila, who has lived in Cologne with her husband and son, Jonas for many years. Saeed gets his sight back after the surgery and he is coped with the new and strange atmosphere around him. Saeed is getting ready to come back to Iran but everything goes wrong. Further examinations show that he suffers from leukemia. His disease has apparently resulted from chemical gases used in the war. When Saeed’s sister finds out about his disease, she tries to prevent any situation which will cause him stress, as the doctors advised. But Saeed becomes very ill when he watches the video of Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s funeral which was recorded by his brother in law. So, they take him to the hospital and he dies there while doing chemotherapy. This happens while Saeed’s wife and his newly born baby are coming to Germany to meet him. The last scene of the film shows that the family of Saeed’s sister is going back to Iran with his wife.
The war melodrama of From Karkheh to Rhine is one of the first Iranian war films made with a critical view towards the war and its destructing consequences on the life of those who survived in the war. Saeed, has a patriot and also a fundamentalist view toward the war which is opposite to his sister’s point of view who lives in Germany. Although Saeed is a victim of the war, he still sticks to the belief that the war he has attended was a holy war against the enemies of Allah and he ultimately dies for this belief. Hatamikia avoids an idealistic view in his film by picturing three Basij militia (members of mobilized forces volunteered for war) who have different points of view towards the war which is unlike the official state views towards the issue. Among them, Nouzar has lost his faith to the war. He is in Germany for treatment and he is doing his best to seek asylum. Asghar still adores the war gropingly and with prejudice, and Saeed the leading character in the movie, is a moderate person who does not judge anyone and does not try to find anyone guilty. He makes a balance between the two others.
Hatamikia’s liberal approach makes the characters to have unpredictable format and frame and that they respect each other’s ideas. Even Saeed’s complaint to Nouzar who is trying to become a refugee is not out of this format, cecause Saeed’s complaint is not to the nature of his action, but to the method he has selected to show his objection. Saeed does not like the idea that Nouzar is selling himself cheaply. This matter is not limited among these three people; it exists between his sister and his relationship as well. The brother is talking about the ‘angels’ wings’ and the sister talks about wisdom and logic; the brother talks about the positive points of the war and the sister talks about the catastrophic nature of it.
The film starts with a metal tag which is a symbol of martyrdom and ends with a flying scene, which symbolically refers to freedom. There is a scene which emphasizes Hatamikia’s anti-war message very well, a scene in which the German reporters are making a film on the chemically injured soldiers in Germany and Saeed starts coughing when he tries to answer the questions of these reporters. From Karkheh to Rhine won the ‘Crystalline phoenix’ for Best Film at the ‘Tehran Fajr International Film Festival’ in 1992.