Included in Jonathan Rosenbaum’s list of 1000 essential films, Parviz Kimiavi’s The Mongols (1973) is a leftfield satire and sharp commentary on the expanding presence of cinema and television in Iran. The story follow...展开s a filmmaker, played by Kimiavi himself and also named Parviz, as he struggles with both his own film and a looming assignment to oversee the installation of a television relay station in the remote province of Zahedan. Imbued by his wife’s thesis work on the Mongol invasion of Iran, Parviz’s anxieties coalesce and materialize in the form of surreal visions in which the origins of cinema are acted out by the Turkomans he hired to play Mongols in his own film. Together with Parviz, we watch as the would-be gang of Mongols wander the desert in search of their director and the answers to their pressing questions about the nature of cinema, all while the forthcoming introduction of television consumes the local village and its inhabitants. Kimiavi fashions a fantastical cinematic space rife with bizarre metaphoric imagery and Godardian references to film-making in order to draw a sarcastic parallel between the Mongol invasion and the hyper-accelerated modernization of 1970s Iran.
A director of a television series on the history of cinema, who has been grappling with the screenplay of his first feature film, receives an assignment to oversee the installation of a television relay station in a remote region of Zahedan province, near the Afghanistan border. He has already hired Turkoman tribespeople for his film and selected his filming location. Meanwhile his wife, who is working on her Ph.D. dissertation about the Mongol invasion of Iran, attempts to dissuade him from accepting the assignment. One night, while working on his history of the cinema series, the director fantasizes a diagetic world that consists of clever juxtapositions of his different worlds: the history of cinema, the history of the mongol invasion, his own film idea and his imminent assignment to the desert.