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Rumi A Great Film Critic's Choice


Paris Report By Darius KADIVAR


Legendary Film Critic Jean-Claude Carriere and Wife Nahal Tajadod Chants Djalal-e-Din Mohammad Molavi Rumi


Audio Translation of
Rumi's Poems by Jean
Claude Carriere and spouse Nahal Tajadod



As a screenwriter, Jean-Claude Carriere is still best known for his association with Luis Buñuel, with whom he collaborated regularly from Le Journal d'une femme de chambre onwards. Yet of all his screenplays, only six (or seven if one counts Le Moine, eventually directed by Ado Kyrou) were written for Buñuel. To date, Carriere has produced well over 80 screenplays and teleplays for a long and prestigious list of directors that includes Malle, Schlöndorff, Wajda, Forman, Godard, Oshima, Philip Kaufman, Carlos Saura, Hector Babenco, Wayne Wang, and Pierre Etaix. He also writes for the stage (most notably for Peter Brook's international theater company); he has written novels, and has occasionally acted and directed.


Top Left :Historic Photo of Film Maestro's in Hollywood Jean-Claude Carriere
( with beard), poses with screen legends  Alfred Hitchcock, Rouben Mamoulian,
Billy Wilder, Luis Buñuel, Robert Wise, William Wyler, George Cukor,
Robert Mulligan, George Stevens Top Right : Gregory Peck and
Jean-Claude Carriere. Bottom : Gérard Dépardieu and Carriere in the
spotlights. Insert: Persian Poet Rumi and Carrieres Iranian wife
Nahal Tajadod. ©cinemateque française



Unlike many prolific scenarists, though, Carriere rarely lapses into lazy or slipshod writing, and the overall standard of his work has remained consistently high. Nor, despite his literary background, does his dialogue feel overwritten or stilted. He himself, while wary of laying down rules and guidelines, maintains that a screenwriter should above all aim for clarity and avoid self-indulgence. "Good dialogue doesn't draw attention to itself," he has observed. "You penetrate it without effort. It's like the sound of a mill to the miller; he only hears it when it stops."



Personally I had noticed his name associated to some of the great French films of the 70's and 80's starring Jean Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, or Juliette Binoche and seeing him on French TV at the Césars ( French Oscars ) ceremonies either for being awarded for best screenplay or seeing him reading some manifesto in favor of some colleague director in some exotic country imprisoned like Chili, Cuba or Iran for speaking his mind. Without being necessarily politically motivated Carriere was at the forefront of drawing public interest in many artists or personalities that were subject to censorship or human rights abuses. He was also to meet the Dalaï Lama and write a much publicized book on his meeting with the Tibetan Spiritual Leader.



Some of the classic Award winning movies based on Jean-Claude Carriere's


As a student in Film at the University I got to follow several seminars and  courses given at Metz and Strasbourg Universities. I was therefore not surprised when during one of these courses he expressed admiration for the Iranian New Wave Cinema and for Persian Culture. Little did I know that this admiration was partly due to the fact that his wife was Persian. Strangely I had noticed some funny coincidences like when he played a cameo role in a comic movie Julie pot de colle directed by Philippe de Broca and with co-stars Jean Claude Brialy and Marlene Jobert. In a particular scene in the movie ( shot in Morroco ) the protagonists are in a hotel and one of them mentions that in Iran they happen to drink a very good and refreshing drink made with Yogurt called "Dough" . A very insignificant piece of dialogue in a family film in the lines of Stanley Donen's Charade. But somehow that piece of dialogue stuck in my movie buff's selective memory.



Abbas Kiarostami work With the Wind was translated by Carriere and Tajadod.
Novel Rumi the Burnt by Nahal Tajadod.
©P.O.L &  ©JCLattes



I got to see Carriere last year during the annual Book Fair at La Porte de Versailles in Paris and I got to see him in person and speak about films. He did not remember the enthusiastic student who years ago would often question him in the university auditorium during his popular Master Classes. I was after all just another anonymous fan lost in the shadow of his famous and illustrious encounters. The simple fact that I was able to meet in real life and follow the courses of one of the greatest and most respected screenwriters and film critics since François Truffaut or Jean Paul Goddard who was admired by some of the most legendary people in the profession ( see above historical photo with Hollywood's greatest directors) was already a dream come true. So it was not without some inner anxiety and admiration that I got to speak to him again and share some of my personal experience and thoughts on films. I discovered the same enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge in him as I did nearly 15 years ago when he was a regular speaker at the University. I did however get to show him some of my writings and the anecdote on that particular film. That is when he smiled sympathetically and told me that his wife was Persian and that Iranian Cinema in his opinion was one of the Greatest Cinema's of the last quarter of the 20th century. 



Great Moment for me: meeting Jean Claude-Carriere at the Salon du Livre ,
2006 at La Porte de Versailles book Expo in Paris


His wife Nahal Tajadod was born in Tehran, in 1960, in an educated family and lives in France since 1977 . She has translated the works of Rumi and also shared with her husband  the translation of some literary works by Iranian film Maestro Abbas Kiarostami. She also wrote a novel based on her interpretations of the works of Rumi under the title " Rumi Le Brulé " aka " Rumi the Burnt " . She is also a researcher at the CNRS the French National Research Center and has published several works on history.

Now the couple has just released an Audio CD of translations of the works of the Great Persian Poet Djalal-e-Din Mohammad Molavi Rumi.

I hope one day to have the honor of meeting Carriere again and interviewing him on his previous works and great lesson's on Cinema. In anycase he certainly made my day on that last meeting. Never could I have imagined that a dialogue on Dough I noticed in a film some 15 years earlier would lead me to meeting the great film critic and screen writer again ...


Author's notes:


Chants d'Amour de Rûmi is available at: LivreAphone


Recommended Reading: Le Film qu'on ne voit pas aka The Film You Don't See by Jean Claude Carriere an interesting insight into film theory




About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Media Consultant.


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