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Script: Gabbeh

Sat, 14/09/2013 - 12:35

 Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Unspecific surrounding, Day.
(A green gabbeh is being carried by the stream. A wolf howls in the distance. A girl against the blue background of a gabbeh, whose silhouette is a blue gabbeh, carrying a jar of water on her shoulder, turns her head and smiles when she hears the howl.)
A small spring, Day.
(An apple falls from a tree into the spring. An old woman in blue and an old man carrying a gabbeh on his shoulder and a basket in his hand slowly walk towards the pond.)
Old woman: You were groaning with pain last night. I could see you couldn’t go to sleep because of your sore feet. I won’t allow you to wash the gabbeh any more.
Old man: Let me wash it.
Old woman: I have rubber boots. I’ll do it.
Old man: So give me the rubber boots too.
Old woman: You have sore feet. You’d better make the food. I’ll wash it to entertain myself for a while.
(The old man goes to the fire pit where food is being cooked. The old woman spread the gabbeh on the ground. Woven in the rug are a male figure in black and a girl riding in tandem on a white horse. The old woman touches it wistfully.)
Old woman: May I wash the gabbeh?
Old man: My pretty lady, who else but you is to wash it, after all?
Old woman: (touches the gabbeh) My pretty gabbeh, why are you blue? Why are you silent? Why won’t you tell me who that horseman is?Let me know at least who has woven you.
(A gentle breeze blows. A girl in blue appears through the gabbeh. A canary flies off a branch. The old man raises his gaze from the fire. He is astonished.)
Old man: Fantastic! She is as beautiful as the full moon.
Old woman: What is your name, my young lady?
Girl: Gabbeh. (She puts her hand in and out of the limpid water of the spring. Drops drip from her fingers.) What a clear water! Won’t you wash me?
Old man: Whom we’d wash if not you, Gabbeh Khanum?
(The blue gabbeh is immersed in the transparent water of the spring. Now the old woman is alone, scrubbing it with her feet.)
Old woman: May I rest my arms on your young shoulders? I’m old. I no longer have the energy.
Girl: (Who is again there, takes the old woman’s hands and puts them on her shoulders) You are welcome.
Old man: You seem so familiar to my eyes. What is your father’s name?
Girl: His name is warp. His name is warp and weft. There he is.
(Insert of nomads on the move. The girl’s father, on horseback, is leading the caravan.)
Girl’s voice: That’s my father. He is a nomad. We are Qashqais. We can’t feel at home anywhere. Even if we did, my father would set out a caravan so that we’d stop falling in love with any place. I fell for a loved one, a rider, a strange voice, someone like an illusion, who was following our caravan like a shadow so to take me away with him.
Old man: (excited) Were I young enough, I would come to win your hand. Your father is a good fellow.
Girl: Don’t be fooled by her appearance. He’s ill-temperd.
Old woman: (with her feet on the gabbeh, her hands on the girl’s shoulder) That much for your father. What about your mother? Is she kind? Beautiful?
Girl: No. The tribesmen say my father is so sulky ’cause my mother is so ugly. There she is.
(Insert. The girl’s mother is whisking a milk goatskin to make butter.)
Girl’s voice: She is Sakineh, my mother. I’m her eldest daughter.
Old man: Give me the rubber boots so that I can wash the gabbeh.
Old woman: (who is now alone) You have sore feet. You’ll have a bad time if you put them in the water. I’ll wash it myself.
(The old man walks away from the fire to the pond. They are alone again, though the old woman’s arms are still stretched in the air, as if on the imaginary girl’s shoulders. The old man rubs his hand on the gabbeh.)
Old man: Look how beautiful it is now that you have washed it! I fell for it once again.
Old woman: (as if to the girl standing in front of her.) He once again forgot me as soon as his eyes were set on you.
Old man: (as if to the girl standing in front of her.) This old woman is even jealous of herself. Gabbeh Khanum! Gabbeg Khanum! Isn’t anyone in love with a girl as beautiful as you are?
Old woman: You were the one who was in love with me, when you were young.
Old man: (rises and turns his back to the old woman who is standing in the pond, with her arms stretched in the air) What a damned fool I was when young.
Old woman: (as though complaining to the girl standing in front of her) Look how cruel he can be.
(The girl caresses her own cheek with the old woman’s hands. A wolf howls. The girl gazes at the crest of the mountain in the distance. So does the old woman. A rider in black on a white horse appears at the top of the mountain. The old woman turns to the girl.)
Old woman: Then why does his voice sound like that of a wolf?
Girl: That’s a secret between him and me. He says he is mad for me. Then why don’t you come if you really are?
(Wolf howl.)
Old woman: If you’re really in love, why don’t you elope with him?
Girl: My father has vowed to kill me if I did.
Old man: (with his eyes full of tears from the smoke of the fire) I’d rather be killed than pestered all along by you.
(Wolf howl.)
Girl: He is saying we’d better go off with each other. Should I?
Old woman: (stretches the girl’s arms onto her shoulders and keeps them there.) Don’t do that. Your father would kill you if you did. You’d better first talk with him.
Girl: My father wouldn’t speak to me because my granmother is ill. My uncle is to arrive from the town to take her to the doctor. My father says he’d let me marry him when my uncle arrives. But he’ll be mad by then.
A mobile school in the plain, Day.
(A cock crows. Fade in to a plain full of palms. The white tent of the mobile school is amidst the palms. The uncle, an elderly man with a white bag on his shoulder, walks towards the school tent. The pupils are answering to the teacher’s questions in unison. The uncle enters the tent. The teacher calls them to stand up. The uncle in his turn allows them to sit down.)
Uncle: Where is here?
Children: The tribal school of Fars Province.
Uncle: Where does Fars Province belong to?
Children: Iran.
(A small girl shakes a bell hanging from the neck of a goat. The pupils rush out of the tent. Now the uncle is standing before the blackboard, facing the class.)
Uncle: What’s this colour?
(He stretches his right hand out of the frame. Insert of tulips. His hand enters the frame.)
Children’s voice: Red.
(The uncle’s hand grabs as though the red flowers in the tulip prairie. Cut to the blackboard. A bunch of red flowers is in his hand.)
Uncle: The redness of the tulips. Now, what’s this colour?
Children’s voice: Yellow.
(Insert. His hand grabs as though the yellow flowers in the prairie. Cut to the blackboard. A bunch of yellow flowers is in his hand.)
Uncle: The yellowness of the wheat farm. And what’s this colour? (Stretches his arm towards the blue sky.)
Children’s voice: Blue.
(His hand. Blue to the wrist, returns to the frame of the blackboard.)
Uncle: The blueness of the clear sky of God.
(Puts his hand down and out of the frame. Insert. A blue sea with his hand in foreground pointing at it.)
Uncle: What’s this colour?
Children’s voice: Blue.
(His hand, drops dripping from it, returns to the frame of the blackboard.)
Uncle: The serene blue of the seas. Now, tell me what this colour is.
(Stretches his arm towards the sun.)
Children’s voice: Yellow.
Uncle: the yellowness of the shining sun. The yellowness of the sun and the blueness of the water turn into the exquisite greenness of the grass.
(Puts his yellow and blue hands above his head. Cut to a green prairi, with his hand entering the frame.)
Children’s voice: Green.
(Back to the frame of the blackboard. There is some green grass in his hand.)
Uncle: Exquisite green. (Puts his yellow hand, with the bunch of red flowers in it, above his head. Cut to sunset.) The yellowness and the redness of the sun are orange at the sunrise and sunset.
Nomads’ caravan in the plain, Day.
(The uncle is moving in the opposite direction of the caravan.)
Girl’s voice:The spring arrived, but the uncle didn’t. In the spring the whole tribe decamped save our clan. My father said we had better wait for the uncle to arrive to take the ailing grandmother to the town. But she was dead when he arrived. My father buried her in an all-green graveyard.
(Insert of a green prairie, with the uncle’s yellow and blue hands entering it.)
The family’s black tents, Day.
(Three black tents. Sakineh is whisking the milk goatskin to make butter. Other women are baking bread. Children are playing with small goats. The uncle reaches the tents.)
Uncle: Hello everybody.
Sakineh: Hello.
Uncle: You remember me, don’t you?
Sakineh: I don’t
Uncle: (takes off his hat) And now?
Sakineh: You’re my husband’s brother.if you’re married, then why are you travelling alone?
Uncle: I’m still too young for marriage. No woman gets married to a child.
Zeinab: Hello, brother.
Uncle: hello, Zeinab Baji. How is everything? I’m surprised you remember me.
(The clan jovially gathers round the uncle to greet and welcome him.)
At the small spring, Day.
Old man: (raises his head from the fire on which the food is being cooked) Your uncle has arrived, Gabbeh Khanum. You’re going to get married soon.
Old woman: Go to ask your uncle to convince your father.
Girl: He doesn’t remember me. I know he’ll ask me if he’s my father’s or my mother’s brother.
The brother’s black tents, Day.
Uncle: (to Zeinab) Is this your child?
Zeinab: You’ve been so long absent that you hardly know your nieces and nephews.
Uncle: Now I’ll show you that I know everybody well enough. Zeinab, you stand on this side of the tree. Sakineh, you on the other side. That child of zeinab’s on her mother’s side. That child of Sakineh’s goes to his mother.
(The uncle makes his nieces and nephews stand on either side of the tree.)
Girl’s voice: The uncle gathered everybody under the tree that shows our family. When a child is born into the family, a new branch grows on it, and when one from our clan passes away, a branch of it falls off.The grandmother remembered which branch stood for what member of the family.
Uncle: I can tell who’s who, can’t I?
Children: No.
Uncle: What is the correct row?
(The children appropriately move to the side of their mothers.)
Children: Now this is OK.
At the small spring, Day.
(The girl and the old woman are sitting at the pond with their arms round each other’s shoulder.)
Girl: You see? He didn’t ask anything about me. He didn’t even mention my name. All he wanted to know was to see the grandmother before he returns to the town.
The brother’s tents, Day.
(The uncle goes from the family tree to the grandmother’s black tent.)
Uncle: Where’s my mama? Where’s my Naranj Khanum? Mama ! Mama Naranj! Your abbas is back. Where are you?
(The mother’s black tent is empty save for the framework of a gabbeh that has not been started and a dog that wags its tail for the uncle.)
Girl’s voice: You are too late, uncle, your loved one vanished.
Sakineh’s voice: She wanted to weave that gabbeh so to send it to the town for your wedding.
(The uncle is overcome by grief. Insert of the grandmother’s grave in the green prairie. The uncle and the girls are standing at it. Inserts of green prairies undulating in the breeze and the girl’s fingers weaving gabbeh. The sorrowful lullaby of a woman could be heard. The background of the gabbeh is being woven in green.)
At the small spring, The mobile school, Yellow prairies, Day.
(Red flowers are being carried by the stream. The girl in blue picks them from water. She is crying. The old woman tries to cheer her up.)
Old man: The mourning period is over. Now it’s wedding time.
Girl: It is wedding time, but not my wedding. My father says the uncle has grow old without getting married. First his wedding, then mine.
(She turns her head and takes the flowers in his hand out of the frame.)
Congratulations uncle, take them. You’d better arrange your wedding as soon as possible.
(The uncle’s hand takes the flowers and puts them before the blackboard.)
Uncle: The redness of the tulips. What is the sound you are hearing, kids?
Children’s voice: A sparrow’s.
(The old man takes a sparrow from a nest and puts it out of the frame. The uncle’s hand takes it to the blackboard.)
Uncle: Sparrow. (He puts a wheat sheaf on the sparrow and takes it out of the frame over his head. Looks skyward.)
O Almighty!
Thanks to Your yellow
This humble fellow’s sparrow
Was turned into a canary.
(He takes a yellow canary into the frame and let it go. Cut to a yellow prairie through which the caravan, now being led by the uncle, is on the move. The girl, a blue gabbeh on her shoulder, looks back every time she hears a wolf howl.)
Girl’s voice:The uncle had dreamed that he would find his mate by a spring; a girl that would sing like a canary. My father went to every family in the clan to seek the hand of several girls for him. All of them were beautiful,  but none would sing like a canary. Our caravan called at every spring it knew. But no girl that would chirp like a canary was found at them.
An oasis, Day.
(The caravan reaches an oasis. A chiled is thirsty. The uncle inquires an old man weaving a rope.)
Uncle: Where is the spring?
Old man: Wherever you happen to hear the sound of water.
A larg spring, Day.
(Carrying a goatskin on his shoulder, the uncle is listening for the sound of water in the plain. He hears someone sing. He traces the voice to a spring amidst verdure. It is a girl singing while washing dishes at the pond.)
Uncle: Fine. The fountain of water and song.
Allahdad’s daughter: Hello.
Uncle: Hello. What us your name?
Allahdad’s daughter: I’m Allahdad’s daughter.
Uncle: I was looking for water but I discovered song. What a beautiful lyric! I don’t remember to have heard it before.
Allahdad’s daughter: I composed it just last night. No one could have heard it before.
Uncle: You mean you composed it just the night before?
Allahdad’s daughter: That’s true.
Uncle: You yourself composed it?
Allahdad’s daughter: That’s true.
Uncle: Are you a poetess?
Allahdad’s daughter: No, I’m Allahdad’s daughter.
Uncle: Could you please repeat it?
Allahdad’s daughter: At the upper end of the spring it is me,
At the lower end of the spring it is me.
The stone in the pond is me.
My beloved passes from here,
I am like a partridge in his hand,
I am several pieces in one.
Uncle: Did you compose this piece for your beloved?
Allahdad’s daughter: I don’t have a beloved.
Uncle: Then why? Aren’t you married?
Allahdad’s daughter: Well . . .
Uncle: It’s getting late. How old are You? (The girl remains silent.) Would you get married if someone proposed marriage?
Allahdad’s daughter: It depends on who my lot of life may turn out to be.
Uncle: Suppose I . . .
Allahdad’s daughter: (stops washing things.) If I marry you, how violent would you go when you get cross with me?
Uncle: I won’t get violent. When and if I’m sore at you, I get depressed and recite poems.
Allahdad’s daughter: What sort of poems?
Uncle: (Puts his hand in hand out of the water, drops dripping from it.) I’ll recite:
I am the thirsty one, you are the running water.
I am fatigued, you are full of strength and energy.
I am aged, old and emaciated,
You are a flourishing branch on a tree.
Allahdad’s daughter: I accept to marry you, because I liked your poem.
(Sakineh arrives with the thisty child.)
Sakineh: (to the uncle) We’ve been waiting for you. This baby is dying of thirst.
Uncle: I go with Allahdad’s daughter and will be back while you are filling this goatskin.
(The uncle takes the utensils and follows Allahdad’s daughter. Sakineh fills the goatskin with water. When it is full, the uncle is back with Allahdad’s daughter and carries a red gabbeh as her dowry. The caravan is by now gathering round the spring.)
Uncle: I went to have Allahdad’s consent to my suit. I myself read the sermon to marry her daughter and this for the sweet of the wedding.
(The old woman, the old man and the girl have been watching the scene from the small pond.)
Various plains, At the small spring, by the pond, Day.
(The caravsn is moving in the plain, with the newly-wed bride among them. The girl in blue who has a blue gabbeh on her shoulder turns her head when the wolf howl is heard on and off. The caravan camps somewhere to shear the sheep’s wool, spin it and dye it with the flowers small girls pick from the prairie. Once the rider in black tries to approach the camp to steal the girl, but he is kept at bay by ferocious shepherd dogs. The wool is dyed and spread in the sunshine, but the girls have to collect them hurriedly as it begins to rain.)
Beside Naghsh-e Rustam, Day.
(The plains are suffused with the green of the verdure. Colourful wools are spread on the roof of black tents. A wedding ceremony. The dance of handkerchiefs in the hands of children. The bride milks a goat. Older girls are weaving gabbeh. The uncle spreads the red one his bride has brought as dowry.)
Uncle: Why have you woven a rider on your gabbeh, Allahdad’s daughter?
Allahdad’s daughter: Once I thought my luck would come to me on horse back.
Uncle: A young luck would take home his bride on horse, not an old one.
(He stands in front of the mirror to prepare himself for the wedding. Looking at himself, he whispers a poem ruefully.)
I can hear the looming disaster of old age
As I see my hair turn white.
(Goes to his bride.)
The folk have no keen eyesight,
And all the better they have none;
Otherwise they could see a grave beyond every cradle,
And a looming grief in every merrymaking.
Allahdad’s daughter: Why are you reciting poems? Are you cross with me?
Uncle: I am now past fifty-seven
Alas, how rapidly and futilely it all went away.
Though my body is old and my hair is white,
I have a heart full of longing, full of hope.
My body is as cold and silent as a prison,
My soul as lively as a vivacious child.
(The uncle beging to dance to the rhythm of the shoulders of the gabbeh-weaving girl. Now everyone is dancing. Even the old man at the small spring is dancing for the girl in blue. The wedding scene is being woven on gabbeh. The caravan passes by a river the bank of which is covered with gabbehs all along. A tent is set up for the newly-weds on the river bank. They wave hands and handkerchiefs for a caravan passing by.)
Girl’s voice: The uncle’s wedding was woven on gabbeh. Our clan left the uncle and his bride for their honeymoon on the carpet-washing river bank.
At the small spring, Day.
(The weeping girl is sitting by the pond. The old woman is not around.)
Old man: Why are you crying. Gabbeh Khanum?
Girl: I have to wait a lot longer. My father has said I should wait for my mother’s childbirth before I get married.
Old man: He had promised you to have it after your uncle’s marriage, hadn’t he?
Girl: Now he has changed it to after my mother’s childbirth.
Old man: When is it supposed to be, this month?
Girl: When we have long decamped, when we have gone long ways, when we toiled a lot, when we have passed the water.
The river bank, Day.
(The caravan reaches the river bank. Woman blow up skins and men make a raft with the inflated ones to pass the stream. Wolf howl.)
Girl’s voice: Girls blew into the skins, while men, the uncle and my father fastened them below a raft, and boys placed the lambs and kids on its safe spots where they would not fall off. And we herded the flock past the stream, with my mother working before all of us. But there was no sign of delivery pain in her.
At the lake, Mountains, Valleys, Ponds, The small spring, Day.
(The caravan is on the move beside the lake. A hen lays an egg into the hand of a girl who takes it out of the frame and dorps it. It lands in the hand of the girl in blue.)
Girl: (joyfully) It’s the time.
(Fog cloaks the caravan. Sakineh, in labour pain, walks into the fog. Girls are weaving gabbeh. As women gather round the mother, the uncle disappears in the fog.)
Uncle: Life is colour.
Weaving girls: (in chorus) Love is color.
Uncle: Man is colour.
Weaving girls: (in chorus) Woman is colour.
Uncle: Child is colour.
(The figure of a child is being woven in gabbeh while the cry of an infant fills the air. Now the egg is in the hand of the old man. The girl in blue is beside him. The old man is crying.)
Old man: (to the girl in the blue) You never gave birth to a child. I very much want to have a baby.
Old woman: (goes away jealously) I go and I’ll never be back.
Old man: You could go to hell and stay there. (Turns to the girl.) the oldie is gone, Gabbeh Khanum. Would you like to go off with me?
Girl: But my father’ll kill us.
Old man: Don’t be a liar, Gabbeh Khanum. Lying is a sin. Tell me the truth. You don’t love me, do you?
Girl: I swear I love you.
Old man: I bet you’re lying. Your father isn’t round here. You are a liar.
(The old woman is back and passes the kid she is carrying to the old man. The girl is not there.)
Old woman: Here you are. This kid for you. Stop nagging.
Old man: (embraces the kid) How beautiful is this kid! Has it had its milk?
Old woman: No.
Old man: (lets the kid go) Poor creature, go have your milk.
Sheep-pen, Day.
(the kid, baaing, runs into the fold. The newly born infant is crying. Sakineh is milking the sheep. Kids are bleating behind the closed fence of the fold. When Sakineh takes the milk to her baby, the kids and lambs rush in and start to suck their mother’s teats. The figure of a kid sucking a nanny-goat’s teats is being woven on the gabbeh.)
The small spring, Day.
(The girl in blue, weeping is sitting by the pond. The old woman is not around.)
Old man: You said you would feel better if you washed the gabbeh, didn’t you? Then why are you crying?
Girl: I have to keep waiting and waiting. My father isn’t around. My uncle isn’t around. My mother isn’t around. Everyone has gone to the town. The uncle’s wife is to have a baby. I have to take care of the sheep and the cildren. A sheep is struck by cold. My sister Sho`leh is missing.
(a sick sheep is moaning under a heap of wool. Sho`leh falls off a cliff when running after a kid. The gabbeh-weaving girls weave rows of black against the background of the sunset. Now the mourning girl and the old woman, both in blue, are bitterly ululaling for Sho`leh.)
Snow-covered mountains, Villages near oilfields, Day.
(The rider in black is following the caravan in the deep-cold weather. The girl in blue has the blue gabbeh on her shoulder and looks back when she hears the wolf howl. Thw flock’s dog is watching her. The girl leaves a red scarf for the rider and puts a ball of snow on it to prevent it from being blown away by the wind.the rider reaches the red scarf, takes the snowball and rubs it on to his hands. The girl in blue tries to warm her cold hands by blowing on them. Cut to the columnn of fire rising from the gas valves of oil rigs. There is a small fire in every house of the village near the oilfield.)
Near the oilfield village, Night and day.
(The girl is sleeping under a gabbeh. The uncle is near her. The wolf howls. She decides to escape but when notices that her uncle is watching her returns under the gabbeh and goes back to sleep. The wolf howl is answered by the dogs barking. The dawn sets.)
Girl’s voice: I was being watched by the girls during the day and by the men during the night, leaving me no opportunity to escape. When the gabbeh left unfinished by grandmother was finally complete, the uncle kindly and confidentially told me that he would take my father to a distant place so that I could run away.
(The green gabbeh being woven during the seasonal migration is now complete and spread on the ground. The uncle and the father lie on it.)
Uncle: We finally finished your gabbeh, Mama Naranj. I wish I would lie on it and never rise again.
(Both men lie on the gabbeh and disappear.)
Girl’s voice: Now I had the opportunity, but not the courage, to escape.
At the small spring, Day.
(The old man, trying to imitate wolf howl, is beating with a stick the blue gabbeh hanging from a tree. A gentle breeze.)
Old man: Why are you so nasty to me? Why shouldn’t we go off with each other? Your father isn’t around. You’re liar. You ruined my life. You kept me wandering. You had me rove in the wilderness and mountions. You don’t love me. Now that your father isn’t around any more, we could go off.
Beside the pond, Day.
(A lamb is born. The girl in blue is weaving gabbeh. The ewe is licking its newly born lamb. The girl in blue is weaving gabbeh. The lamb tries to learn to stand up and walk. The girl in blue beats the weft thread and the row of knots she has woven by a heavy iron comb beater. The ewe stamps its foreleg on the ground so to make its feeble baby rise. The girl heavily beats the weft. The ewe stamps its foreleg. The lamb rises. So does the girl in blue. The wind is blowing in the green plain and the girl goes off with the man on horseback. With the stamp of the horses’ hoofs speeding away at a gallop, the two men reappear on the green gabbeh. The father grabs his gun from beside the fire and goes after the fugitives. The echo of two shots and the moan of a wolf in the distance. The yellow grass is undulating in the wind. The father is back with his rifle hanging from his shoulder. The clan is anxiously gathering to know what has happened. The father throws down his daughter’s blue gabbeh. Everything turns blue.)
At the spring, Day.
(The old woman wraps the blue gabbeh, fills the jar from the spring and walks back to the hut.)
Old man: (to the old woman)
Would you come to wash the gabbeh, Gabbeh Khanum?
Old woman: I have sore feet. I won’t do it any more.
Old man: Don’t disappoint me, Gabbeh Khanum.(Howls like a wolf.) You don’t love me, or now that your father isn’t around you’d go off with me. You are a liar, you don’t love me.(The old woman walks towards the hut with the jar on her shoulder.)
Girl’s voice: My father did not kill us, thought word spread that he had, so to make sure that my sisters would not be infatuated with a wolf howl. That is why in the past forty years no one has heard a canary chirp by a spring.
(The green and blue gabbeh are being carried by the stream.) ....