Hamoun, a film by Dariush Mehrjui

Hamoun (1990)
A film directed by Dariush Mehrjui
reviewed by MP

WE are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.

Iran’s modern cinema is admired around the world, because these marvelous films explore the most complex and interesting problems of human life and human relationships. Hamoun, a psychological drama, is the story of a man madly in love with his wife, and struggling to save his broken marriage. Throughout the movie — which was voted by Iran’s top film critics as the best Iranian film ever made — director Dariush Mehrjui gives us many clues to help us to understand the intricate meanings of the work.
All the books that are mentioned in the movie are well-known books read by persons seeking answers to the mystery of modern existence: Demian by Hermann Hesse; Reminiscences by Tolstoy; Franny and Zooey by Salinger; Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard; and Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig. We should notice that the initials of Hamid Hamoun are “H.H.”, the same as Hermann Hesse. But the same initials HH also point to another character — Harry Haller — the star of Hesse’s book “Steppenwolf.” … The character and story of “Steppenwolf” — peppered with flashbacks and dream sequences — has much in common with the tragedy of Hamoun and his wife.
At one moment in the movie, Hamoun’s boss is talking about a business deal, and Hamoun cries out: “What of spirituality, you poor wretch? What of Love?” … Later in the movie, before he runs into the sea, he asks himself: “Could things be the way I want, everywhere love and peace?”
Hamoun is a sensitive man, a dreamer and idealist, who feels alienated from modern life and the modern world of business, money, and things. Thinking about his struggles and his failures, we can better understand our selves. Though the movie ends ambiguously, the optimists among us will believe that Hamoun can make peace with his chaotic past, and — like his best friend in the film — begin to live a new and better life.