Two-Legged Horse

   11 September 2008, terribly early in the morning

The night before watching Treeless Mountain, Shima and I watched the Iranian film Two-Legged Horse at the film festival. The film is directed by Samira Makhmalbaf. (Her father is a very famous director in Iran, and she is certainly a good director in her own right.) The film is set in Afghanistan. A poor boy is hired to carry the son of a rich(er) man whose son has lost his legs to a landmine. The film is about the relationship between this boy who can’t walk, and his two-legged horse. The film is really an examination of human relationships — in particular of abusive relationships. The film gets very surreal very quickly. By the end of the movie you are watching a very strange film. It reminded me of Ashes of Time in the way it was edited. Within a single scene events may take place out of order. Some small scenes are repeated again and again. Both boys play their respective parts brilliantly — neither were professional actors. The casting must have been very difficult.

The Q&A following this film was a disaster. People were very upset after watching the film. I think that may actually be a sign the film was successful. I don’t know what it is about TIFF that seems to attract the ignorant and affluent, but the questions that were asked at this screening were ridiculous — opening with a comment on how stupid and horrible a depiction of Afghanistan was in the film, and ending with a query on whether Afghanistan was actually like this. (Hint: you aren’t watching a documentary.) Her answer to both questions was similar: “The movie is not about Afghanistan. I would have made the film in Iran if they let me.” Makhmalbaf handled herself very well, considering much of the audience was so confrontational.

Two-Legged Horse was a challenging film to watch, but it’s certainly a very good film. Shima is convinced it is typical Iranian fare, but I think it is particularly odd.



  1. i beleive it is one of the best films on afghan. it also potrays the attack on the WTC.
    it’s a must watch film for all.

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