THE GARDENER – by Mohsen Makhmalbaf (With Subtitles – باغبان ساخته محسن مخملباف )


I am not
a Christian, not a Muslim, not a Buddhist, not a Zoroastrian, not a Jew, nor a Bahá’í. I am an agnostic
film-maker. I am here today
with my son to make a movie
about a religion, the Bahá’í Faith. This religion was born
170 years ago in Iran. Today, hundreds of
thousands Bahá’ís live in Iran. And because
they are Bahá’ís they get executed,
put to prison, tortured and banned
from universities. just because they are Bahá’ís. And many people
still don’t know what it is about
Bahá’ís’ thought that has brought
170 years of punishment
onto them. Perhaps our not
knowing, has contributed
to the cruelties committed against
the Bahá’ís. We have come
to this garden, the center
of this faith, to become
familiar with it. to present the subject
from two angles, my camera
will try to find its negative
points; my father,
through his camera, will look at its
positive aspects. This is the city of Haifa,
in northern Israel. This is the Shrine of the Báb, the one who foretold
the coming of Bahá’í Faith. If we had brought a
professional actor who knew about cinema, instead of this gardener, for example,
people like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, or Sean Penn, then your film
would be more popular and it would be viewed
all over the world. You would also
not waste so much tape. Do you have a pen? Yes. Thank you. What I have in mind
is a human being. Cinema wants to show
people and their real stories. I don’t need
an actor. The first person
who walks by the camera, if is looked at deeply, has a story to tell and
is suitable for the next film. Cinema wasn’t always as it is now. It was originally about real life. Gradually,
it transformed into an industry that mass produces
Coke and McDonald. I need a real person
to concentrate on. I want to develop my perception
through concentration. I want to learn
to see better. Cinema is
the extension of one’s eye, not the extension of
one’s glasses. Better tools
are like better glasses. What really needs to be improved
is one’s perception. But if technology did not exist, I would not have been able
to take this picture. If what is important
is just one’s perception, then why make films? Think only about one thing. Don’t try to capture
a series of shots one after the other as if you are changing channels
with a remote control. Try to become aware of
what goes on in your mind. OK, 10 seconds
it is enough. One gets bored. If I show the footage of this
gardener to my friends with such a slow rhythm What would they say? 20 tapes has been wasted, to show what?! But he is not only
gardening. See,
in a way he is praying. It is a kind of a meditation. He is educating himself to be like a gardener
to society. How can you not distinguish
between a religion that invites its followers
to be like gardeners and flowers, I can’t hear your voice. Count 1, 2, 3
so that I can test the microphone. 1,2,3
with much respect for technology. I am leaving. I am gone. Why are you filming
him so much? I have found
a good subject over there. Hurry up,
we will lose it. You go ahead.
I want to work on this character. Come with me! Here, I brought you some tea. Thank you. It’s really hot. Didn’t it burn your hand? I’m fine. Did you capture good shots? I took a few shots of a girl who was
teaching some children. I was filming
the gardener He is saying
interesting things. The Bahá’í faith
started as a new religion about 170 years ago
in Iran. It contains
all the good things that are found in
Buddhism and Christianity. And includes ideas
promoted by people like Gandhi and Mandela. AlIt started 170 years ago,
and it does not contradict any of today’s
human rights principles. Although there are hundreds
of thousands of Bahá’ís in Iran, due to censorship,
not many know about its teachings. Just think about it, if we
had a peaceful religion, Iran would be a
more peaceful country and would not be
pursuing nuclear weapon. or we had more morality But if Bahá’ís
would have come to power, maybe they would have
persecuted others for their beliefs. While in Paris, Khomaini
spoke of freedom. Once in Iran,
he put people in prison. Didn’t Christ talk
about love and kindness? And then what did the Church do
in the middle-ages? anyway, what do freedom,
peace, and kindness have to do with religion? These all depends
on culture. What was that?
Did the war start? It is possible. The basis for war
has roots in religion. You fail to recognize
the power of religion because you have only seen
its negative effects. If someone
is burnt by fire, would you close
all oil wells? You have to realize that in the same way
that you update your cameras, religion, too,
should have been updated You believe that religion has
huge destructive power why not use its power
to bring about peace? See, you made me
step on this flower. I’ll have to ask for
forgiveness from this flower. What is the problem with
not having a religion? Who fights more? Those with religion
or the ones without? Where you see
war in this world, you find Muslims,
Jews, Christians or… involved. They are either at war
with one another or anxious about
the possibility of it. I don’t think, there is a need for
religion in this modern world. Are you asleep, dad? I am convinced that organized religions
are the source of hatred in this world. What did Al-Qaida do? It turned religion into
an engine for terrorism. What did the Taliban do? They took children
into religious schools and taught them
how to become suicide bombers. Did you say something to me? No, I was just thinking out loud. If religion can educate innocent children
in such a way that, they are prepared to die and kill, then it proves that
religion has power. Why not use
the power of religion for the promotion of
peace and friendship. It is fruitless to drop bomb
from sky, to combat violence. Are you asleep, dad? Are you asleep, dad? What were you doing? Where is your gardener? The gardener was sleeping,
as well. Where is he? You have put your camera
on the ground… Eona, where are you? Baha’u’llah was imprisoned in Iran, went into exile from Iran, and then, while an exile,
was imprisoned once more. For Bahá’u’lláh and his family, most of their lives were spent
either in prison or in exile. It was in the prison that
he lost one of his sons. When, after many years
he was released, he was visited by Edward Browne,
the renowned Orientalist to whom he said: “Thou has come to see
a prisoner and an exile. We desire nothing
but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem us
a stirrer up of strife and sedition, worthy of bondage and banishment.” What are you doing, dad?! Are you making a religious film? You came to talk about
human rights, to say that people have the right
to choose or change their religion, This film is not about
human rights. It is about
promoting religion. Cut! cut!
Dad, I’m serious. Religions begin with peace
and end with violence. They begin with the
emancipation of women and end up
enslaving them. You are using technology
to serve superstition. You too cut, my son! You too are turning technology
into a new religion. You are creating from Steve Jobs
a Moses, Jesus or Muhammad. Was it not technology
that led to the nuclear weapon, that destroyed Hiroshima? Is it not technology that is
destroying the environment? Your generation
has little patience. I’m not going along with this. I’m going into town
while you make this film. I am not making a film
to promote a religion. I am investigating a faith for which
many people have died. Many people are still in prison
for their belief in this religion. Its followers have
never used violence. I want to understand
how this religion has been able to raise
a group of peaceful people. I am investigating to see how much of
the violence in this world can actually be
attributed to religion? This is Jerusalem,
the sacred city. The center of
three major religions: Islam, Christianity,
and Judaism. What is religion? A collective spirit?
a series of practices? traditions and accessories? For example Rosary, Most religions like Rosary… Nearby every religion
a traditional bazaar can always be found. This bazaar reminds me of
Shah Abd’ul-Azim bazaar in Iran. Selling pictures of saints, and angels with Rembrandt-like lighting. These are Israeli soldiers. This is where Christ
ascended to heaven. His body was washed
on this stone. People are bringing
their cloths here to bless them. Muslims do
the same thing in Iran. Their faith in Muhammad
is as strong as these people’s faith
in Christ. Communal singing
stirs up religious feelings in me, but I have to control myself
so that I am not deceived by it. Architectures
in all religions is similar, high ceilings to make people feel small
in large spaces. Candles… The use of
lightness and darkness, Such strange sounds
and strange smells. So that make one
to leave reality, and enter
the metaphysical world. Human beings have
existed on earth for more than
a million years. Why was God quiet
during all these years, and why did he only
begin to send prophets three thousand years ago, and even then,
three major religions connected to each other
by the same streets? That was the center of
Christianity, In less than one-minute walk,
almost an alley away, is the center of
Islam and Judaism. This is the
Al-Aqsa masque, the original qiblih of the
Muslims and the place where Muhammad
is said to have gone to heaven. Not even one street away,
but right there connected to it, is the Western Wall,
as a neighbour. Look,
right down there… The most important site
in the world for the Jewish people. Wasn’t there enough space
in the world that God brought the centers of two
major religions so close? Didn’t he know that his believers
would not make good neighbours? I have to wear a cap
to go to the Western Wall. Muslims say that
here is ours, because our prophet
went to heaven from here. Jews say here is ours, because the Western Wall
is here. By the way, if Iran makes
nuclear weapon and hit the Western Wall, then what happens
to their own Al-Aqsa mosque?! Dad Dad Dad Have you become a Bahá’í, dad? No. Then what? I am a Christian, I am a Muslim, I am a Buddhist, I am Jewish, I am a Zoroastrian, I am irreligious, all of these. Where is your camera? I planted it
so that it would flower. Let me give it some water. Are you alright? Thank you.
How about you? Why did you get
your camera wet!? Ah…

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