Renowned as one of Iran’s most esteemed cultural and artistic personas, Bahram Beyzaie’s depth of knowledge in theatre is unparalleled. He is both an established academic in traditional Iranian and Eastern theatre and has significantly contributed to its research. As a prolific playwright and screenwriter, he has authored a multitude of diverse works, and in his capacity as a theatre and cinema director, he has successfully brought a selection of them to life on both the stage and screen. 

Yet, for many, the intricate historical, cultural, and mythological themes embedded in Beyzaie’s works might be challenging, especially for global viewers. Such profound contexts in his films present a contrast to the works of directors like Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, or Asghar Farhadi, where complex historical and cultural contexts play a minor role and their movies can be more immediately accessible to viewers. Nevertheless, the rise of digital restoration techniques has breathed new life into Beyzaie’s films. His seminal work, Ragbār (Downpour, 1972), was notably restored by Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation. Furthermore, classics like Gharibeh va Meh (Stranger and The Fog, 1974) and Cherike-ye Tārā (Ballads of Tara, 1979) have been recently restored, they premiered at Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival by the Cineteca di Bologna and have made their way to festivals such as London and New York, captivating audiences. After numerous years, cinephiles have finally had the opportunity to view Beyzaie’s films in high-quality formats. This article seeks to elucidate the cultural and ritualistic nuances of Stranger and the Fog, making it more accessible and resonant for those unfamiliar with its context. 

Stranger and the Fog holds an uncelebrated place in the annals of Iranian cinema, often overlooked and undervalued. Prior to this work, Beyzaie had crafted two warmly received short films centred on children, Amu Sibiliu (Uncle Moustache, 1970) and Safar (The Journey,1973), alongside Downpour. These films were met with considerable acclaim. However, Stranger and the Fog, despite receiving commendations from certain critics for its technical achievements upon its screening at the 1974 Tehran International Film Festival, did not garner as favourable a reception among the majority of Iranian critics. To this day, while many laud Downpour for its heartfelt simplicity and warmth, they view Stranger and the Fog as an ambitious departure from Beyzaie’s simpler initial style, some even deeming it pretentious. Over time, the film received diminishing attention in contrast to Beyzaie’s other works, ultimately fading into relative obscurity. Furthermore, during periodic surveys conducted by prominent film magazines, Stranger and the Fog remained absent from the list of the greatest Iranian films of all time.

Parvaneh Massoumi (Rana) and Esmat Safavi (Jeyran) in Stranger and the Fog

The narrative synopsis of this film unfolds as follows: In a coastal village, the residents are startled to spot a boat carrying a wounded stranger named Ayat. He can only recall a harrowing encounter with unknown assailants from which he narrowly escaped. His constant worry revolves around the possibility of their return. The villagers, concerned about the presence of this unknown stranger in their tight-knit community, present Ayat with a difficult ultimatum: he must either depart from the village or take a local as his spouse. The decision of Ayat and Rana to unite in marriage is met with fervent opposition from the villagers. They believe that Rana should remain in perpetual mourning for her departed husband. Despite the vehement objections, Ayat and Rana forge ahead with their union. Shortly after their marriage, under the cover of night in the forest, Ayat is ambushed by an unknown assailant and in self-defence takes the intruder’s life. The following day, the villagers are stunned to learn that the lifeless body on the beach is Rana’s missing husband. They perceive this act as a sign of opposition to Rana’s remarriage. In the end, those whom Ayat feared since the outset attack the village. Ayat, confronts them in a fierce battle, ultimately emerging victorious. Despite this victory, he still harbours a persistent concern that the danger is not completely over, therefore some other assailants might target him again. Knowing that the source of his fear is an unknown enigmatic truth that lies on the other side of the sea, he makes the decision to embark on a journey across the sea, driven by a relentless curiosity to unravel that mystery.

During the 1970s in Iran, leftist tendencies heavily influenced intellectual discourse and film criticism. Central to this were two tenets: a commitment to social realism and a deep reverence for the concept of the mass of people. These beliefs perhaps led to the initial dismissal of Stranger and the Fog, given the film’s distinctive approach towards these principles. The film audaciously adopts an untraditional perspective, a departure from Beyzaie’s earlier works that more conventionally tackled urban scenarios with recognisable, “real” spaces and symbolic elements that invited political interpretation (for example the enigmatic men in glasses from Downpour and The Journey, seen by many as representing Sāvāk – the Pahlavi dynasty’s intelligence service). Conversely, Stranger and the Fog is set in a seemingly atypical Iranian village, a place akin to a non-place, telling a story more existential than socialist. Therefore, some critics perceived it as being detached from its surroundings. What they missed, however, was Beyzaie’s nuanced storytelling. Rather than presenting a faithful documentary-style reproduction, Beyzaie artfully amalgamates diverse indigenous elements within this fictional village. The intent appears to be a deliberate deviation from conventional documentation. Beyzaie crafts an imaginary village that, while not replicating any specific Iranian locale, seems to encapsulate the essence of Iran. Instead of illustrating an external world, he unveils a nightmarish vision. While it initially appeared disconnected from reality, time revealed the film’s prophetic insights, capturing society’s truth more accurately than many self-proclaimed realistic and socialist films.

Geographically, the village in Stranger and the Fog lies in northern Iran by the Caspian Sea. However, the attire, customs, and music of the inhabitants of the film’s village do not exclusively align with the indigenous practices of Northern Iran. In addition to the customary clothing worn by the Northern inhabitants, one can also observe that the residents of the film village have adorned themselves with the typical attire of the Lur and Turkmen peoples (who live in the west and northeast of Iran, respectively). Furthermore, certain rituals portrayed in the film have connections to the customs of Southern Iran. The film’s musical composition ingeniously incorporates elements, motifs, and instruments from diverse regions and tribes across Iran, including Turkmen and African (Zār), blended together. Additionally, the filmmaker has included rituals that, as per anthropological records, were once prevalent across all regions of Iran, but, by the time Stranger and the Fog were produced, these rituals had become largely obsolete or had evolved into forms distinct from what we witness in the film. Notably, all characters speak unaccented Farsi, eschewing regional dialects, a choice he would change in his later film Bāshu, Gharibeh-ye Kuchak (Bashu, the Little Stranger, 1986). This abstract ambiance in Stranger and the Fog resists being tied down to any definitive geography.

Stranger and the Fog

If viewed solely through the lens of realism, it is easy to dismiss the film as an anomaly – much like its initial reception. The film garnered the most favourable reviews from international critics who, unlike their Iranian counterparts, did not subject the film to the lenses of “realism” and “documentary”, thus allowing for a more direct engagement with its content.1

It is noteworthy to mention that Beyzaie holds an impressive background in mythology studies, having published a multitude of books and articles on Iranian rituals. In the same year he produced Stranger and the Fog, he served as the head of the theatre department at Tehran University. Eight years prior, at the age of 27, he composed extensive research on Iranian traditional plays (Iranian theatre), a work still regarded as one of the most credible academic resources in Iran. Before his research, both the general and academic communities in Iran solely recognised Western concepts of theatre. However, in his exploration of Iranian theatre, Beyzaie illustrated how Iran’s geography, culture, and beliefs have given birth to unique forms of plays indigenous to the region. Additionally, he has authored two books on the traditional theatre of Japan and China and conducted research on the ritual theatre of India. Years later, in an article entitled “An Introduction to Eastern theatre”, Beyzaie thoughtfully elucidated the fundamental disparities between Eastern and post-renaissance Western theatre. He opined that while Western theatre centres on humans and their circumstances, Eastern theatre like Noh (Japan) or Ta’zieh (Iranian passion play) aspire to depict the universe. He articulated that, “the west deals with current reality and the knowledge of phenomena, which is viewed as unstable, superficial, and invalid in eastern knowledge.”2 Consequently, Westerners are presented with a reality that is objective, tangible, and experimental, whereas Eastern knowledge unveils a field that is more enlightening, mystical, and esoteric. Beyzaie contends that Eastern traditional plays are more centred on an underlying “truth” beyond tangible “reality,” leading them to transgress many criteria of realism. Precisely because of these distinctions, they have the potential to harbour new capacities and suggestions.

In his roles as a theatre or film director, Beyzaie continuously sought to integrate formal elements from Iranian (and occasionally Eastern) traditional plays into his works, based on his academic findings. His intention was not to use them in their original form, but to harmonise them with the demands of contemporary theatre and cinema. In essence, he aspired to utilise the components of Iranian native plays for his cinematic and theatrical frameworks. It is evident that the “documents” unearthed through his academic research are creatively deployed by him as an artist, with the goal of establishing a visual-audio system in plays and films. Prior to his debut film, Downpour, he staged several plays sourced from Iranian traditional plays, such as marquee or Ruhozi (Iranian traditional comedy). In Stranger and the Fog, not only ancient rituals are depicted, but aspects of traditional-ritual plays, especially Ta’zieh, are discernible. Scenes featuring village people seated on the ground distinctly recall the circular scenes of Ta’zieh. Furthermore, Ta’zieh, a drama centred around mourning, invariably concludes with the battle and martyrdom of holy men and the orphaning of children, elements that have been seamlessly integrated into Stranger and the Fog. Beyond this, expressive acting, exaggerated behaviours, and a unique choreography that transcends actors’ movements, aim to resurrect the customary elements of Iranian traditional play within a new medium.

Stranger and the Fog

Stranger and the Fog bears significant cinematic influences and allusions. Its storyline echoes Ford’s The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952). Scenes depicting Ayat’s attempts to assimilate into the tribe and the village headman interrogating him evoke Westerns, drawing parallels to the trope of a stranger amidst Indian tribes. The eerie, fog-shrouded ambience channels the mood of Kobayashi’s horror films. The black-clad harbingers of death recall imagery from The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) (Beyzaie himself mentioned in an interview that in Persian literature, as seen in the works of revered poets like Ferdowsi, Naser Khosrow, and Saadi, the angel of death wields a scythe3). Furthermore, Beyzaie cites the film’s final battle as an homage to Seven Samura4 (Akira Kurosawa, 1954). Moreover, the overarching plot – an “outsider” entering unknown terrain and facing challenges due to cultural differences – aligns the film with science fiction. This alignment is fortified when we consider that the individuals searching for Ayat, with their menacing demeanour, robotic expressions, and peculiar headwear come from a distant land (even their figure in the image appears noticeably more imposing than the village’s residents). This generic linkage significantly contributes to the film’s thematic evolution. Comparing Ayat with the beach dwellers conveys his origin from a more advanced place (and symbolically, from the future), bringing ideas unknown to the villagers.

Stranger and the Fog, with its unique blend of abstract, ritualistic, and cinematic elements, stood as an isolated entity in the realm of Iranian cinema. Much like its character Ayat, the film refused to conform to “the masses”. Its existence, mirroring Ayat’s, became unsettling for those anchored solely to their familiar norms and preconceptions, leading to its rejection. Stranger and the Fog sought to draw a firm line against the accepted and recommended realism of that era, even challenging it with its surreal and dreamlike ambiance.

From the point of view of the leftist discourse, the ritualistic universe portrayed in Stranger and the Fog seemed detached from modern times. However, as illuminated through his writings, interviews, and other works, Beyzaie understood that rituals and myths are not confined to antiquity or primitive cultures. They evolve, adapt, and occasionally cloak themselves behind the facades of modern societies and relationships. Despite its ethereal demeanour, Stranger and the Fog was profoundly relevant, speaking to the conditions of Iran during that period, and shedding light on a society unknowingly entangled in myths and rituals. In an interview, Beyzaie revealed that the inspiration for Stranger and the Fog struck him during the production of Downpour.5 As he worked across various neighbourhoods in Tehran, he observed a recurring pattern: the residents invariably regarded his crew with suspicion, viewing them as unfamiliar intruders. Even with official permissions to film, the crew was expected to abide by the unwritten rules and norms of each distinct neighbourhood. Through this experience, Beyzaie recognised that beneath the facade of a seemingly modern city, age-old tribal dynamics persisted. Every neighbourhood operated like a distinct tribe, each with its own set of customs, or in other words, its own totems and taboos. 

Bahram Beyzaie directing Parvaneh Massoumi

It is fascinating to note that just two years prior to Downpour, what is often heralded as the dawn of the new wave in Iranian cinema began with a film, Gheisar (Masoud Kimiaei, 1969), that depicted these tribal underpinnings. At the beginning of the film Gheisar, a girl commits suicide after being raped. For the rest of the movie, we see her brothers as they seek retribution. When the girl’s uncle finds her suicide note explaining what happened, he says “Thank God she passed away, otherwise what would she have told Gheisar and Farman (her brothers)?” In many traditional and ancient cultures, the concept of “namus” holds significant weight. Stemming from the Greek term “nomos”, which translates to law or custom, “namus” embodies a deeply entrenched patriarchal belief wherein female members of a family are perceived as a reflection of a man’s honour or “namus”. This framework is evident in numerous traditional societies where “namus” is intricately linked to the intra-tribal relationships of patriarchal systems. In a patriarchal society, it seems that men possess their “namus”, claiming to protect them. In the film Gheisar, the concept of tribal justice takes precedence over established legal systems. The protagonist’s decision to kill the rapist epitomises a deeper cultural belief where traditional duties often supersede state-imposed laws. Gheisar achieved best-selling status and garnered immense popularity, captivating not only the general audience but also earning acclaim from critics and intellectuals alike. The film particularly struck a chord with leftist intellectuals, who often found themselves at odds with the prevailing political discourse. They appreciated Gheisar’s defiance of the law, admired his spirit of rebellion, and regarded him as a hero.6 The impact of Gheisar rippled through Iranian cinema, giving rise to a series of films that emphasised the tension between tribal or personal codes of “namus” and the official legal system. Often framed within the context of totemic and taboo laws, these films presented a worldview that was relatively black and white. Moral complexities were set aside, with narratives primarily hinging on the binary opposition of good versus evil.

The enigmatic ambience of Stranger and the Fog is encapsulated by its fog-laden scenes, creating an environment of ambiguity where certainties are blurred and judgments are deferred. The film fundamentally challenges accepted norms, dispelling myths and critiquing the idealisation of heroes. Through the narrative about Rana’s husband, it delves into the intricacies of myth creation, highlighting how the image of a stalwart hero can be manipulated. The tale suggests that Rana’s husband (the greatest fisherman in the village) has strategically distanced himself from the others, ensuring that his legend endures through their collective memory. This film adopts a discerning perspective, unravelling the true story behind Rana’s husband to shed light on a more disconcerting reality: a community that, in its naivety, perceives the return of his corpse as nature’s retribution for Rana’s unconventional marriage. Rather than glorifying the masses as paragons of virtue (a sentiment echoing the desires of leftist intellectuals), Stranger and the Fog underscores their ignorance, superstition, and apathy. This is epitomised in the film’s climactic battle, where only Ayat and Rana actively confront the adversary. The stark irony lies in the community’s passive observance of this conflict, only intervening to attack an already defeated foe. This portrayal serves to debunk the often idolised notion of “the masses”. On the other hand, the film’s depiction of Iranian society – characterised by its adherence to archaic beliefs and tribal tendencies – stands in sharp contrast to the utopian visions propagated by the then-government. The administration, in its fervour for modernisation, endeavoured to showcase Iran as a beacon of progress, a vision sharply refuted by the film’s more grounded narrative.

Bahram Beyzaie and Mehrdad Fakhimi (cinematographer) behind the scenes of Stranger and the Fog

Furthermore, the film robustly challenges the misogynistic concept of “namus.” The portrayal of women in the film is groundbreaking in the context of Iranian cinema, both then and now. While mainstream Iranian cinema often reduced women to binary roles of mother or prostitute, casting them in the shadows of male characters and desires, Stranger and the Fog deviates boldly from this pattern. In the stereotypical narratives, women are relegated to roles as cabaret dancers, prostitutes, or submissive wives, devoid of autonomy and agency over their desires.7 In contrast, Stranger and the Fog presents Rana as a powerful and independent figure. She forges her own path, defying the expectations imposed upon women by the tribe and traditional patriarchal duties. Following her husband’s passing, her brothers-in-law deem her their “namus”, expecting her donning of the black mourning attire and maintaining her status as her husband’s mourner until her own demise. In the midst of this stifling patriarchal environment, Jeyran, Rana’s sister-in-law is a victim of these oppressive cultural norms. Throughout the film, she closely trails Rana, akin to a shadow accompanying her from the very start. If Rana adheres to the tribal laws, we can reasonably anticipate her becoming someone like Jeyran in the future. Jeyran’s black attire links her to the ominous messengers of death, a fate Ayat manages to evade. In a pivotal scene where the village headman endeavours to persuade Ayat not to marry Rana, villagers draped in black traverse the background, bearing an uncanny resemblance to these messengers of death. Beyzaie attempts to convey that these harbingers of demise, entering the village like alien invaders in a science fiction narrative, find their counterparts within the village itself. Their spectral presence is mirrored in the countenances of the village’s death-oriented inhabitants. Beyzaie, along with his main characters Ayat and Rana, staunchly opposes this death-centric patriarchy, celebrating instead the themes of life and fertility. Jeyran, viewing her own lost possibilities in Rana, feels a pull of sympathy towards her. Concurrently, a surge of jealousy arises as Rana boldly shatters the restrictive rules which Jeyran had been entrapped by, charting a path Jeyran had yearned for but could never embark upon. Rana embraces desires that Jeyran has stifled within herself for a lifetime. In a significant sequence, Rana is depicted in the foreground, seated with unyielding dignity and strength at the frame’s centre, while her agitated brothers-in-law diminish in the background’s expanse, appearing contemptible. Rana’s tranquil demeanour is not a sign of passivity but represents stability, strength, and resistance, constituting a powerful, dramatic act. Following a heated argument, she emerges from the house’s shadowy confines to stand under the cleansing rain in the daylight, a symbolic gesture of her rebirth and burgeoning fertility.

The film, while seemingly confronting pre-modern and tribal values, in its subversion incorporates a narrative core grounded in an ancient ritual linked to matriarchal societies: the sacred marriage. According to Beyzaie’s interpretation, within the fertility cult, the analogy between the woman and the tilled earth parallels that of the phallus and the plough. This perspective fosters a belief in the congruence of lovemaking and ploughing.8 Herein, the union between a woman or queen (symbolising the fertility goddess) and a man or king (embodying a vegetation deity) is posited as a guarantor of the land’s fertility. This ancient ritual overtly extols women, earth, and life, aligning with the cyclical death and resurrection of vegetation from winter’s chill to spring’s warmth.9 It emphasises the significant roles women play in the cycle of life and death, further underscoring their contribution to the sustenance of the earth.

Based on the extensive research by James Frazer in The Golden Bough, which delves into the analysis and evolution of the sacred marriage ritual, the male/king embarks on a journey. Through various competitions, once it is determined that he is the most worthy individual in the tribe, he is granted the privilege to wed the goddess’s representative. After ensuring her conception, and before age diminishes his strength, he is sacrificed, paving the way for a successor.10 This ritual’s footprints are evident in the narrative fabric of Stranger and the Fog. Rana can be aptly perceived as a contemporary embodiment of the fertility goddess;11 a woman of unparalleled beauty, allure, and grace who is the cynosure of the village. As Ayat observes, she captivates the hearts of all villagers, irrespective of their gender. Having triumphed in all challenges, Ayat earns the credentials to approach Rana. Subsequent to their union, he confronts mortality, eventually receding to his origins. This cyclical narrative pattern, emerging from obscurity and receding into it, resonates with the life-death-rebirth cycle observed in vegetation. This is further emphasised towards the film’s conclusion, as Rana anoints herself with the mud gifted by Ayat, symbolising her metamorphosis into an extension of the earth itself. In the film’s predominantly sombre and monochrome ambiance, Ayat and Rana, dressed in white, stand out from the mournful masses clad in black, symbolising their choice to embrace life. Yet, the shadow of death is ever-present for them. In a particular scene, as the black-garbed alien strolls through the village market, multiple mirrors within the camera’s frame intermittently capture reflections of both the alien and the couple, subtly hinting at their imminent confluence.

Examples of sketches by Iraj Raminfar (set and costume designer)

Stranger and the Fog mirrors the contrasting rhythms of its central couple: one dynamic and spirited, the other serene and tranquil. The film seamlessly oscillates between scenes characterised by bustling movement and those imbued with profound stillness. While certain sequences proceed at a breakneck pace, others unfold leisurely. It almost feels as if the male and female protagonists have contributed to the harmonious rhythm of the film. In moments where Ayat finds himself encircled by villagers in an impromptu tribunal, an eerie silence and stillness pervades. This tranquil tempo is also palpable during intimate scenes, such as Ayat and Rana’s first night together or during Rana’s moments of mourning. On the other hand, the scenes where Ayat endeavours to decipher the significance of the symbol on the scythe exhibit remarkable compression and intensity. In an effort to propel the narrative swiftly, Beyzaie dispenses with all the unnecessary preliminaries, opting for an approach akin to interview-based documentaries. Different individuals in disparate locations and timeframes sequentially offer their opinions regarding the mark, creating an interview-like format. This style is also evident in various other scenes, such as the individuals expressing their astonishment one by one when Ayat proposes to marry Rana. This brevity in storytelling reaches its pinnacle when fragmented shots depicting various moments and locations, portray Jeyran and Rana’s brothers-in-law attempting to dissuade Rana and Ayat from their marriage plans. The film endeavours to encapsulate a wealth of information and events within the briefest of durations. The editing and dialogues are meticulously orchestrated to seamlessly transition from one shot to the next, facilitating movement across space and time without unnecessary verbosity. For instance, Rana’s brother-in-law informs her in one location and time, “Ayat is going to leave” and in another location and time, Ayat retorts, “No, I am not going to leave”, creating a fluid narrative continuum. In these scenes, it appears that the film mirrors the restlessness embodied by Ayat, who is constantly in motion and grappling with various challenges. The repetition of this model in several parts of the film imparts a strophic structure to it. Moreover, the recurrence of motifs, locations, and situations – such as passing through a cemetery, village gatherings, seeing Ayat and Rana talking and walking on the road – serves not only to reinforce the ritualistic nature of the work but also bestows it with a poetic quality. An intriguing point to note is that after Rana and Ayat’s marriage, these strophe-like scenes cease to appear, and the narrative’s rhythm slightly decelerates. This change might be attributed to Ayat’s transformation into more of an “insider”, allowing him to speak openly in public (previously, he had to talk to the different individuals separately). 

This narrative reflects a fundamental aspect of the human experience: the perpetual quest to prove oneself and gain acceptance in society. However, upon achieving this, individuals often realise that they’ve expended their entire lives on this endeavour, leaving little time for anything else. It becomes a poignant reflection on the inexorable nature of destiny: In the final battle, Ayat’s every strike against the messengers of death inflicts a corresponding wound upon himself. He simultaneously conquers death and succumbs to it. While he appears to vanquish death and survive, the audience understands that being wounded, boarding a boat, and vanishing into the fog signify nothing but a journey to the realm of death. The ultimate farewell is imbued with a sense of mourning. Through this ending, by symbolically preserving Ayat’s life rather than explicitly depicting his death, Beyzaie pays homage to his resilience, proactivity, and his ability to confront his fears.

Parvaneh Massoumi (Rana)

Beyzaie extended the thematic and character exploration initiated in Stranger and the Fog with two other films set in the northern regions of Iran: Ballads of Tara and Bashu, the Little Stranger. These three films can be viewed collectively as a trilogy and offer opportunities for interrelated interpretations. Furthermore, the eerie ambiance characteristic of Stranger and the Fog found its way into Beyzaie’s subsequent urban films. For instance, Maybe Some Other Time (1988) is notably suffused with nightmarish elements, revolving around a woman harbouring enigmatic scars from her past, who obsessively delves into her history to attain self-understanding. The profound, unsettling spectre of death looms over Travellers (1992), almost akin to an eclipsing darkness that wholly envelops the film. The sinister, black-clad messengers of death gradually adopted a more human countenance in Beyzaie’s later works. It is as if they transitioned from an ontological plane to a more tangible reality, manifesting as individuals within the framework of “social” films such as Sag Koshi (Killing Mad Dogs, 2001) or Vaghti Hameh Khābim (When We Are All Sleep, 2009). This transformation underscores the unsettling notion that the once nightmarish elements have now become an intrinsic facet of reality.

Beyzaie’s professional journey also mirrored his concerns. As time passed, he encountered increasing difficulties in pursuing his work in both theatre and cinema. Despite his extensive body of work, comprising approximately 34 plays and 31 screenplays, he had limited opportunities to bring his theatrical productions to the stage and make films. Some of his films faced bans and were never made available to the public, as a result the intervals between making his films extended over time. He spent approximately 13 years in the United States, during which time he served as a professor in the Department of Iranian Studies at Stanford University. Throughout this period, he staged five plays, all deeply rooted in the traditions of Iranian theatre. He continued his research, teaching, and writing endeavours.

Parvaneh Massoumi (Rana)

Upon its initial release, Stranger and the Fog stunned audiences with its divergence from typical Iranian cinema. It can now be asserted that it emerged from the future, displaying a visionary quality ahead of its time. Due to limited discussion and recognition, it remained underappreciated and unacknowledged for several decades. Now, it has resurfaced like a stranger emerging from the fog. The question arises: How will contemporary audiences and critics receive it this time? Can this resurgence be likened to a cinematic resurrection? Will it once again be regarded as an enigmatic outsider, or will it find its rightful place in the cinematic canon?


  1. Zaven Ghoukasian, Majmooe Maghālāt Dar Nagh va Moarefi-ye Âsar-e Bahram Beyzaie (A collection of articles on the criticism and introduction of Bahram Beyzaei’s works( (Tehran: Âgah, 1993), pp.301-305.
  2. Bahram Beyzaie, “Moghaddameh-ei Bar Namāyesh-e Shargh” (An introduction to Eastern theatre), Daftar-haye Theatre, Issue7 (Autumn 2010), p. 9.
  3. Ghoukasian, Zaven, Goftogo bā Bahram Beyzaie (An interview with Bahram Beyzaie), (Tehran: Âgah, 2000), p. 101.
  4. Ibid, 102.
  5. Ibid, 99.
  6. Hamidreza Sadr, Iranian Cinema a Political History (London: Taruris, 2006), p. 137.
  7. Hamid Naficy, A Social History of Iranian Cinema: The Industrializing Years (1941-1978) Volume 2, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), p.207. and also: Minoo Derayeh, “Depiction of women in Iranian cinema, 1970s to present”, Women’s Studies International Forum, Issue 3 (May–June 2010): p. 152.
  8. Ghoukasian, Goftogo bā, 112.
  9. Mircea Eliade, Traité d’histoire des religions, (Patterns in Comparative Religion, 2007) translated by Rosemary Sheed (Nebraska Press, 1996).
  10. James George Frazer, The Golden Bough (London: MacMillan. 1919).
  11. Saeed Talajooy, Iranian Culture in Bahram Beizaie`s Cinema and Theatre, (London: Bloomsbury publishing, 2023), p. 173.

About The Author

Amir Hossein Siadat is a film researcher, teacher, and critic currently based in Iran. As a member of the Association of Iranian Film Critics, he has steadily contributed film articles over 15 years, collaborating with various magazines in Iran such as Film, Chāhār, Filmkhāneh, Cinema va Adabiāt, and others. He served as the Director of the Cinematheque at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art for over five years. He has experience in curation, having organised a number of international film weeks in Iran. Last year, a book he co-authored with Sahar Khoshnam was published, which examines the film Shatranj-e Bad (The Chess of the Wind, Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976). Some of his writings in English are available on his personal website at www.amirsiadat.com.

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