Crimson Gold (2003) طلای سرخ

Country: Iran
Language: Persian
Director: Jafar Panahi (written by Abbas Kiarostami)
Running Time: 95 minutes
Starring: Hossain Emadeddin, Kamyar Sheisi, Azita Rayeji, Shahram Vaziri, Ehsan Amani, Pourang Nakhael, Koveh Najmabadi, Saber Safael

Theme: Crime

Ratings: 7.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Film Festivals:
2003 Cannes Film Festival
(Un Certain Regard Section)
2003 Chicago International Film Festival
2004 Tbilisi International Film Festival
2003 Valladolid International Film Festival

2003 Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard Jury Prize)
2003 Chicago International Film Festival: Gold Hugo for Best Film
2004 Tbilisi International Film Festival: Golden Prometheus  (Jafar Panahi)
2003 Valladolid International Film Festival: Golden Spike  (Jafar Panahi)

Crimson Gold (2003) is directed by Jafar Panahi, one of esteemed filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s protégés, and who has earned recognition from film theorists as well as won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival (for The Circle (2000)) and Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival (for Offside (2006)). Considered one of the most influential filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave movement, he takes after Kiarostami in courting controversy in the movies he have been producing. This has spawned his sudden arrest in March this year, only to be released on bail in May as the Iranian government came under the close scrutiny of the international cinematic community. Acclaimed filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami, Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers among others, as well as film societies and film festivals around the world were part of a petition movement trying to force the hand of the Iranian government into releasing Panahi, an arrest that has also been condemned by human rights organizations around the world. Cannes Best Actress Juliette Binoche also dedicated part of her award-winning speech for Kiarostami’s Certified Copy to drawing attention to Panahi’s plight. He currently still stands on trial, allegedly for “making a film against the regime and it was about the events that followed election”, according to Iran’s Culture Minister (AFP, 2010). But his wife has since denied claims that this was true.

Panahi’s style has been described as neorealist, and this is evident in Crimson Gold that explores humanitarian themes within Iranian cinema without sensationalizing the political and social messages. He embraces the “tension between documentary immediacy and a set of strictly defined formal parameters” amid “an overtly expressed anger at the restrictions that Iranian society imposes” (Wilson, 2006).

This is clearly evident in Crimson Gold. Albeit a crime film, it is not a sensational one that focuses on the violence, although its poster might semiotically depict otherwise given the image of a man pointing a gun to his own brain. The main character is Hussein who appears to be attempting to rob a jeweler shop in the opening scene. He shoots the Jeweler, and then takes his own life as well as the Jeweler sounds the alarm. Whether his intent was suicidal in the first place is up for contention, but the movie, executed in a flashback sequence with the execution in the first scene, is particularly affective as it goes through the travails of Hussein’s life – his psychological trauma of dealing with war experience, being on medication, and being ostracized and condescened upon in the throes of mainstream society due to his lower class status. This class struggle takes central theme throughout the entire movie, whether in Hussein striking a rapport with a fellow law enforcement officer of the same social status, or observing with chagrin the difference in policial treatment of the wealthy and the poor, an allegory of corruption that might not have fared well with the authorities.

The sociopolitical themes that run deep under the guise of a simple bank robbery are impossible to ignore, and provides a social commentary as to the social ills of contemporary Iranian society of the day. And the flurry of moviemakers from Iran hold a precious key at helping the international community unlock the increasing alienated state of Iran that is being placed on terrorism watch and accused of engaging in nuclear development in the Axis of Evil. We see a case study of brutal class realities, but which is banned in Iran itself supposedly for being too “dark” in portraying the themes of powerlessness in the face of an authoritarian society.


Agence France-Presse. (2010). Panahi arrested for making anti-regime film: minister. Retrieved October 26, 2010, from

Willson, J. (2006, September 26). A mirror under the veil – and inside the stadium. Retrieved October 26, 2010, from



One Response to Crimson Gold (2003) طلای سرخ

  1. Pingback: Iranian Director Jafar Panahi Sentenced to Six Years in Prison, Banned From Making Films « just a film junkie.

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