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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Mystic Iran: The Unseen World
Mystic Iran: The Unseen World
Wellspring // Unrated // January 13, 2004
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted January 30, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Program

Mystic Iran: The Unseen World is a look at the country once known as the heart of the Persian empire. Filmmaker and narrator Aryana Farshad, whose roots are in the East but lives in the West, begins her spiritual journey in Tehran. She examines the social evolution that occurs underneath public and privates restrictions based on Islamic law. Women wear fashionable clothes underneath their traditional covering garb. Filmmakers, poets, and intellectuals alike strive to define themselves in the ever-changing world. The struggle between East and West is more pronounced in the capital city, and as she moves deeper into the desert and countryside she grows closer to the heart of this ancient land.

Iran became introduced to Islam in the 7th Century; before then it was inhabited by Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians (among others.) The influence of Mohammed's teaching spread quickly (as it did elsewhere), and the phenomenal mosques of Qom as displayed here are absolutely breathtaking. Jewels, shaped glass, intricate patterns and geometric shapes merge to create breathtaking artifacts and pieces of architecture. I marveled at the desert landscapes, ancient fortresses and temples, hidden sanctuaries, majestic mountain ranges, the hypnotic motions of whirling dervishes, and remnants of ancient civilizations.

And just as it's getting interesting... it's over. This is a fifty-one minute presentation, a hint of an essence, introductory passages to an ancient world filled with life, history, conflict, and culture that requires much more time than what is allotted on this disc. Mystic Iran: The Unseen World is a fascinating and worthwhile program that should be expanded into a longer format: a mini-series, a series of specials, etc., but as a single DVD I find the package slightly lacking.

The DVD

Video:

Mystic Iran: The Unseen World was originally shot on videotape, and is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. The presentation is acceptable, but not without its flaws. There is a fair amount of shimmering and video noise throughout the presentation. Contrasts are reasonable but not quite as pronounced as they should be, while colors often appear slightly drab and lifeless. The presentation isn't flawless, but it presents an overall acceptable (if not exceptional) representation of the video.

Audio:

The audio is presented in monaural Dolby Digital 2.0. While the dialog comes across reasonably warm and natural sounding, the score sounds a little thin at times. Otherwise, the audio mix is reasonable and suits the presentation quite well.

Extras:

The DVD contains previews for The Circle, Maryam, and Marooned in Iraq, a DVD Offer for 10% of your first order from The Video Collection, Weblinks to Aryana Farshad's official web site, Irandokht, Planet Pictures, and Wellspring, and the DVD production credits.

Final Thoughts

I want more of Mystic Iran: The Unseen World! The material included on this disc is extremely compelling, bringing the Western viewer into a world seldom (if ever) seen. As a big admirer of the poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi, I was especially transfixed and mesmerized by the extensive segments devoted to the whirling dervishes. But the program remains too short. As it stands, Mystic Iran: The Unseen World is a fine program that deserves to be seen, but the DVD lacks too much content to justify its $25 retail cost.

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