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Script: Bread And Flower

Mon, 25/06/1990 - 19:00

Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Summer 1990
Bread and Flower
The bus stops in the street. The boy selling cigarette gets off and Eesa, the flower selling boy gets in. He asks the driver’s permission by an eye signal. Driver lets him through by nodding. The bus door closes behind him. Bus starts moving.
Eesa: Flowers! Flowers!
Two very small children with pacifiers in their mouths are sitting in the first row. Four seats over, there is no one sitting. Eesa goes forward. The next passengers are school children, a boy and a girl both reading books.
Eesa: Flowers?
The little girl raises her head and smiles at Eesa. The little boy turns the girl’s head towards the book. Eesa passes. A young couple is sitting in the back of the bus.
Eesa: Flowers!
The woman is wearing a bridal gown that she has hid under a chador like cover and she is in tears. The man next to her signals that they don’t want any flowers. Eesa returns. The other rows of bus are occupied by couples, each older than the other successively. Eesa repeats his question constantly but nobody wants flowers. The bus enters a tunnel. Cars coming in the opposite direction have turned on their headlights and the light reflects on the front window of the bus. Cars warningly honk their horns. From the beginning up to now the camera has followed Eesa in one shot and now it is behind him and the driver. A pair of dazzling lights is coming towards the bus from the depth of the tunnel, getting bigger every second. The frightened driver honks his horn but when he brakes it is already late and the two dazzling lights hit the window and burn everything.
High roof over the city-Early morning
Eesa wakes up with puffy eyes and frightened. Winter sun shines on him. He gets his sleepy self together by turning and stretching. He is wearing a native local costume which not too proper. He stumbles up to a high roof and yawns facing the city. From his point of view the city seems deserted. The antennas on the roofs of houses all carry a colander each. The colanders are each facing a direction. On one side in the depth of the shot the church bell tolls. From outside the frame the wind pours in the sound of call for prayer over the city.
Stream- Day
A wide stream outside the city. Every one of the kids catches something from the water. We don’t see the details. Only one of the children catches a leaping frog and puts it in his pocket and zips the pocket. Water brings a bunch of wild flowers with it. Little hands grab them from the water.
Unknown area-Day
Barbed wires. Eesa slips through them. He holds the flowers with utmost care. We follow him in close up shots until he reaches a wall. He looks worried and looks around. Twice, he imitates a bird’s sound and he hears the same sound out of frame once. Eesa holds the flowers between his teeth and with bare hands and feet goes up the wall through the cracks. He is relatively skilled in doing that. After a couple of meters up, he slips and falls down. He comes up again. From the top of the wall a masculine hands enters frame. We see the back of Eesa’s hand pulling himself up towards the masculine hand. He comes close. He takes the flowers out of his mouth and extends them towards the hand. He has made a mistake. There is still some distance left. Man’s hand attempts to make up for the distance. It is not possible yet. From angles above and below we see two hands without their owners in view aiming to reach each other. Eesa’s feet struggling on the wall. The two hands gradually near each other. Sound of a sudden whistle as a warning. Boy falls down from the cracks. We now realize it was a prison wall. Eesa runs through the bushes. The man whose hand we saw is behind bars, worried.
Eesa reaches the barbed wires. Shadow of the guard casts over him. Eesa turns and looks at his palm. The fresh blood on his palm resembles the knots on barbed wires. He is horrified and breathless. He is still stuck in the wires.
Prison Warden’s Office-Continued
The warden is sitting behind his desk. He seems kind. He is wearing army uniform. Behind him, there is a window with files piled up. He brings out a knife from a file and switches its blade. The half broken blade comes out.
Warden: Where is the rest of the blade?
Accused: (shaking man) It remained in his body.
Warden: Come and put your finger print here.
The wrinkled black hand of the accused man puts his finger print on the bottom of a paper. Another file comes in front of the warden. He opens it. A bunch of wild flowers in it. The warden smells them and for a moment, becomes overwhelmed by their smell. Then he remembers to do his job.
Warden: What is your crime? (Eesa is desperate as to what to answer) Crime? (Eesa wants to say something but refrains) What’s your crime, boy?
Eesa: Selling flowers sir.
Tens of children are in the street selling flowers. Everyone tries to sell their own flowers to customers. Davood, a boy has turned on a tape deck and dances to the music. Passers bye stop for a minute and throw money for him. Eesa is selling flowers when the lame boy arrives dragging himself. He stutters also. He goes directly to Davood.
Lame boy: Stones, bring stones!
Throng of people has gathered. Eesa finds his way forward with difficulty. A woman has been brought to be stoned. Her hands are chained and she is being pulled by a rope. There are no officers. The accused woman looks frightened but tame and submissive. When she arrives to the middle of the pit she hears the sound of a car. She turns her head. The truck arrives and empties its full load of rocks. The woman becomes more horrified and runs towards the crowd of women. Women return her to the middle of the pit and push her into a ditch and pour dirt around her. Now, woman is half way in the ground. People each go towards the truck and fill their shirts with stones and wait to stone her. From among the women a screaming little girl, younger than Eesa throws herself on the woman and pushes the dirt away with her hands. Women pull her away. Eesa walks forward and holds his hands in front of the girl’s eyes. Girl weeps and pushes Eesa’s hand away. All hands are raised to start stoning.
A man’s voice: (which we don’t see) Whoever is innocent can throw the first stone.
People become quiet. The accused woman howls out of horror. Moments pass in waiting to start stoning. The little girl in a woman’s arm playfully throws down the apple she is biting. The waiting hands of people start to throw the rocks. A line of blood appears on the woman’s face and the little girl voluntarily grabs Eesa’s hand and covers her eyes with it. Davood starts his tape and begins to dance. Stones shower from the sky to ground. People’s hands in the air in slow motion throwing stones as if dancing to Davood’s tune. Gradually, the hands become highly contrasted and they change their shade to gray, the color of stone. Davood is dancing and Eesa is taking away the woman’s little girl. People throw stones and Davood keeps madly dancing in a close up shot. The shots gradually become long. It is another day.
Street - another day
Davood dances in the street. Children sell flowers. Eesa and the little girl go towards a woman who is selling flowers and her name is Henna.
Henna: Flowers. Flowers sir.
Eesa gives the pill to Henna. Henna quickly takes the pill. Then she takes out a cookie from her pocket and gives it to Eesa and goes on selling flowers. Eesa and the girl sit in a corner and eat the cookie. A car stops and honks his horn. Children run towards the car and stick their flowers in it but after a second return in vain. The car keeps honking until Henna goes towards it. She sticks her head in the window and says something that we do not understand. Then she gets in the car and leaves.
Eesa enters the restaurant. He has a bouquet of flowers. The stoned woman’s little girl is with him. She is carrying a bouquet as well. Eesa and the girl change the fresh flowers with the shriveled ones on the tables. And they put a single stem in a glass of water over the restaurant counter. The man behind the counter gives Eesa and the little girl a hamburger and a soft drink. Eesa cuts the hamburger in half and gives one to the girl and they share the drink gulp by gulp.
They come in the street until they reach in front of a cinema. They watch the movie stills in the window for a while with the music playing at the same time. Then Eesa gives a single rose flower to the woman in the box office and another one to the person who checks the tickets at the door. The man smells the flower and looks around and once he makes sure no one is watching, he stealthily lets them in the theatre. They sit to watch the movie. A samurai has raised his sword and screaming.
Again, they stick their heads in the cars; small or big and pass through the streets.
Eesa: Do you want flowers?
Girl: Flowers?
Eesa: Roses.
Girl: Roses.
Eesa: Fresh flowers.
Girl: Fresh flowers.
Then they get on a bus from which a nut seller comes out. The bus starts to move.
Eesa: Flowers anyone?
Girl: Flowers?
On the first seat in front of the bus two mothers are breastfeeding their infants. Behind them a school boy and a school girl are sitting reading their books.
Eesa: Flowers sir!
Girl: Flowers sir!
The girl raises her head and smiles at Eesa. The boy turns the girl’s head towards the book with his hand and opens her book that she had closed. Eesa gets shocked. He turns his head. On this row couples are sitting on every other seats who are each successively older than the other. The bus enters a tunnel. Eesa suddenly screams. The little girl becomes frightened by his scream and starts to cry. Eesa pounds on the driver’s back with his fist to make him stop. Driver gets panicky and stops the bus and they run out of it and come out of the tunnel. When they come out of the tunnel Eesa leans on the wall. The girl also follows. They are both gasping hard. Then Eesa listens. In his face, seems like a horrendous crash is about to happen.
Eesa: Did you hear it?
Girl: What?
Street -In front of the coppersmith shop-Day
Sound of copper works echoes in the street. Eesa and the girl are each in a direction selling flowers. A car stops and honks his horn. Girl walks to the car and sticks the flowers in through the window. We don not see the driver. Then the girl also sticks her head in as if she is saying something to the driver but suddenly, her feet are raised from the ground and she is pulled inside the car and the car drives away. Instead of any other sound effects we only hear pounding copper works. Then a whistle blows and each one of the children runs toward a direction. Boy who is deaf and sells cigarettes has not noticed the officers. Peddlers run away. Eesa has to return and warn the deaf boy. He is shaking the boy when a hand touches his shoulder. He turns around. Handcuffs drag his hand which is full of flowers into captivity.
Prison warden’s office-Day
A file enters frame. The warden opens it. A bouquet of shriveled flowers and one of fresh ones that indicate two arrests.
Warden: Don’t you know that selling in the street is prohibited? (Eesa raises his head in negation) What kind of flowers do you sell?
Eesa: Daffodils.
Warden: What else?
Eesa: I don’t know.
Warden: Roses? (Eesa nods) What else? (Eesa says nothing) I heard you were selling white jasmines too. (Eesa doesn’t know what to say) If you tell me the truth I won’t do anything to you. (Eesa thinks that selling jasmines is a special crime therefore, he puts on a denying face) Jasmines?...Didn’t you sell jasmines? (Eesa raises his shoulders) Don’t you sell jasmines?!
Eesa: (sheds tears but tries to control himself) No, I swear to God I didn’t.
Warden: Then who did?
Eesa: (can not stop himself from crying) I don’t know sir.
Warden: They have told me that you know who sells white jasmines.
Eesa: No sir.
Warden: Jasmine…it’s white…smells good. A rare find. Don’t you know? (Eesa raises his shoulders) I would have let you go if you sold jasmines.
Eesa: (transfixed) I do sell them sir.
Warden: But you said you didn’t know where they had them, you liar. (Eesa is desperate) Well, do you sell jasmines or not?
Eesa: Whatever you say sir.
Warden: Put your finger print here.
Street-Various places-a moment later
Eesa is running in the street asking everyone about the girl. Davood dances and cover his eyes with his hand. The cigarette selling boy tries to tell Eesa something with sign language but Eesa pays no attention. The deaf boy though insists to repeat his words and makes signs with his hands and face that makes it clear that he knows of the girl’s whereabouts. He pulls his hair with his hand but Eesa does not understand. Then he grabs Eesa’s hand and pulls with him. Both run and pass by the loud coppersmith shop. In a corner in the street a boy is sitting on a chair and a barber is giving him a shave with a shaving machine. The deaf boy shows Eesa the boy under the barber’s hand. Eesa does not recognize him. He looks in wonder at the boy and the deaf boy. The barber finishes his work. Now the girl raises her head from under the barber’s hand and her eyes catch Eesa’s. They stare at each other for some moments. Then Eesa goes forward and picks the girl’s cut braids on the ground and presses them in his hand. Girl gets up and runs away. Eesa runs after her. The barber who is after his money wants to grab Eesa when the deaf boy comes forward and shows by sign language that the barber can ask him whatever he wants.
Barber: The money.
The deaf boy lights up a cigarette and hands it to him. The barber has not yet extended his hand when the deaf boy takes out another cigarette. The barber is still waiting for his money. The deaf boy puts his hand in his pocket and tosses the coins and we hear their sound. Then he brings out and empties them in the barber’s hand. It is a frog. The barber pulls back. The deaf boy puff at the unlit cigarette in his lips and walks away with the sense of pride of a triumphant champion.
Ruins of a church-a moment later
The girl smears her face with dirt. Eesa is stunned. He goes forward but the girl keeps backing up and goes up to the church tower through the deserted staircase. Eesa reaches her. Light crisscrosses through the holes on the wall. For a moment the girl twists in the light. Then she gets up to run but she can’t and her hands get stuck to something. The bell is tolled as if coming from a well deep in the ground and the girl reaches a window edge that has been created by the wall breaking and throws up towards the city and what she mumbles in between crying and puking, gradually becomes understandable.
Girl: Don’t tell anyone I am a girl. For God’s sake don’t tell any one.
Sound of the deserted church bell playing in the sharp rays of light through the holes in the wall. Now the wind also seems to bring the sound of call for prayer. Now it sounds like the coppersmiths are also pounding. Now it sounds like drums are being pounded
Another place-Night
They are pounding on drums. It is a wedding. It is lit in front of the house in which there is a wedding. We don’t see anything of the wedding except the door and the arriving guests. When one of the guest cars stops and a distinguished man and woman get off, all the beggars in the street surround them until they walk in through the door into the wedding and then the beggars rush to the next car that arrives. Davood is dancing. Henna is selling flowers but no one pays any attention to her. It seems that she is begging others and looks sicker than before. The deaf boy lights cigarettes for his customers in his own special way and the street photographer takes pictures. Eesa goes forward to convince him to take their picture in return for flowers but the photographer doesn’t accept. Eesa insists and the photographer hesitantly accepts. Then Eesa and the girl stand next to each other to have their picture taken. The girl looks sad and pensive. As soon as the photographer gets ready to take the picture, Eesa raises his hand and stops him and then from his pocket he takes out the girl’s cut braids and then he cuts a piece of his shirt and connects the two braids to the girl’s head. Then he sticks the remaining flowers in the piece of cloth on her head as if flowers have grown out of the girl’s head and then the two turn into a picture.
Sea-Early morning
Waves bang on the cliffs. Girl is sleeping parallel to the sea and Eesa is pouring sand on her body to the extent that gradually her body becomes completely covered by sand and only her mouth shows to enable her to breathe. Sometimes the waves come all the way over the girl’s body. Then Eesa gets up and picks a sharp rusty piece of iron. He screams and runs like the samurai he saw in the film towards the girl and with all his might he brings it down in the sand. A heart-rending sound is heard but the boy keeps on and disperses sand by the sharp iron. Girl is not under the sand. The camera turns and the girl is standing in another side.
Girl: Now your turn.
Eesa lies down and girl pours sand over him. The sun rises. The children look like two lovers from the distance.
Barbed wire area-Continued:
Eesa slips under the barbed wire and walks towards the wall. Girl is waiting for him by the wires. Once reaching the wall, Eesa imitates a bird’s sound. The prisoner shows up behind the window. Eesa throws the cookies he brought at the window. Sound of whistle is heard. Eesa runs away.
Eesa and the girl fill the restaurant with flowers and get hamburger and soda instead. Eesa empties the soft drink into two plastic bags that he had obtained before.
Eesa and girl are coming. They are eating half a hamburger each and drinking their sodas out of plastic bags. In a corner, a woman is on the ground and an infant is sucking her breast and crying. The children walk forth. Woman seems to be sleep. The girl holds her hamburger towards the baby. Baby is younger than being able to eat solid food. Eesa goes further. Woman has died. Eesa and the girl do not realize that. They shake her and sit her up. Woman falls. Girl runs in horror. Eesa grabs the baby from woman’s arm in horror and runs away.
Eesa and girl enter the crowded sheepfold. Further away, a lamb is feeding from a sheep’s breast. Eesa takes the girl and baby up from a wooden staircase. It seems like they know this place. Then Eesa returns and drags the sheep up the stairs. The sheep resists and the lamb follows her. Eesa hands the lamb to the girl and the girl lays the baby down under the sheep and puts her nipple in the baby’s mouth. The lamb drags himself under his mother but the girl stops him and pulls him away from the sheep. Now the sheep and the lamb are returned downstairs and the baby sleeps on the girl’s laps. The girl rocks the baby and lies down herself. Eesa also lies down next to her with a distance. Both look to the ceiling and we have them in frame from the ceiling.
Eesa: If I get rich I will buy a horse…do you want us to get rich?
Girl: Yes I do. (she is sleepy)
Eesa: (daydreaming) If I buy a horse I will leave here. Do you want us to leave here?
Girl: Yes I do. (she is sleepier)
Eesa keeps daydreaming even further. Now he makes a content smile out of a thought and rolls. From the side angle and the light reflecting on the two of them their shadows overlap each other on the wall. The children look like two lovers. Suddenly, sound of an alarm clock wakes them up. They both get frightened and stick close to each other and drag themselves to the window. The baby also utters an outcry and sleeps again. Then the sound of a knife being sharpened on the polishing tool is heard. Then sound of sheep bleating is heard next. Then the children lie down with their hands on each other’s shoulder and the picture fades out. Fade in: They are both sleeping and the light through the window has separated them from their surrounding. The baby has pulled Eesa’s shirt aside and is sucking on his nipple. Eesa opens his eyes and so does the girl.
Girl: He is hungry.
Eesa rubs his eyes and goes down the wooden staircase to bring up the sheep. When he reaches down he looks around and gets stunned. He returns and grabs the girl’s hand and they start to leave but he stops in front of the staircase again. He closes his eyes.
Eesa: Close your eyes and follow me.
He grabs the girl’s hand and pulls her. Girl closes her eyes and holds the bay tight in her arm and they go down the stairs. When they reach down the girl’s face takes a particular look. She smells the atmosphere and moves her feet around.
Girl: Why is the ground wet?
Eesa: Milk is splattered on the ground, don’t be afraid.
They come out of the sheepfold. Eesa still doesn’t let the girl to look back and see her faded bloody foot trace.
Streets-the next days
Eesa and the girl sell flowers in the street. There is no sign of the baby. They stick their head into every car. Sound of the coppersmith shop becomes louder in frame. Girl’s face gradually changes. She becomes frightened and resorts to a corner. Eesa looks at her. Girl hides herself. Eesa stands next to her. The same car that had taken the girl is standing in the street. Girl rubs her hand in the dirt on the ground and smears her face with it and conceals herself from the car. Eesa is worried about her. He sees the car. Sound of whistle is heard. Girl keeps crying. Sound of copper works is heard. The flower selling children escape. Eesa does not pay attention to their flight. The cigarette selling boy shakes him to warn him to run away. Eesa is gazing at the car. The cigarette boy also runs away. Handcuffs capture Eesa’s hands that are full of flowers.
Visiting room-Day
Eesa is sitting. Girl enters. Further away, a man is visiting his wife. Girl goes towards Eesa. An officer is watching the whole room. (we see his shadow) Eesa and the girl are sitting face to face looking at each other not knowing what to say. Voice of a man and a woman next to them is heard. Girl grabs Eesa’s hand and pulls it under the table. From under her dress she takes out a hamburger and the plastic bag filled with soda. They start to eat. Then they become playful and start to crawl under the tables. We just realize that there are many other prisoners who are being visited by their families. Eesa and the girl play hide and seek with each other under the tables to the extent that the hand and foot of the officer comes in frame and he puts them back in their seats. The man and woman next to them cry looking at each other’s eyes and Eesa and the girl laugh at their cry. When the whistle is blown to announce the end of visiting hour, Eesa blows the plastic bag and bursts it with his hand.
The cells-Night
Bars separate prison cells. Eesa and the man prisoner whom we have seen behind the window at the beginning are apart from each other by eight rows of bars and seven prisoners each in their individual cell. A guard is watching and the prisoners convey the dialogue between the man and the boy one by one and vice versa. Camera follows in one dolly shot the prisoners that convey the dialogue between Eesa and the man.
Prisoner man: Why doesn’t your mother ever visit me? (other prisoners convey his words to Eesa)
Eesa: She says you divorced her. (prisoners convey Eesa’s words to him)
Prisoner: She is lying. I only went on a trip for one year. (prisoners convey)
Eesa: She is sick… (prisoners…)
Prisoner: How does she make a living? (prisoners…)
Eesa: She sells flowers. (prisoners…)
Prisoner: It is said that all prisoners may be pardoned. The prison warden has done a lot for me. I want to send him flowers. Can you bring me some jasmines?
Eesa: Where would I get them from?
Prisoner: If you pass the swamps there are lots of jasmines at the foothills.
Eesa is running in the street. The first one who sees him is Davood who is dancing. Now by Eesa’s arrival it seems as if the camera is also dancing among the flower sellers. The cigarette boy shows up. In his mute tongue he says some things that Eesa does not understand. The mute boy grabs Eesa’s hand and pulls. The path stretches by the area where the woman was stoned. They reach the swamps. Henna is in the swamp all the way up to her chest and she is sinking. Some people have gathered around her and they are throwing her a lasso. But she keeps throwing it away from her self and sings . The girl is also there.
One of the people: It is madness by syphilis. She has snapped. They have rotted the city.
Eesa goes in to the swamp for her rescue. A little further in and he starts to sink.
One of the people: Don’t go in kid. You’ll sink in.
Eesa: I have brought you pills.
Henna pulls herself towards Eesa. Men by the swamp take advantage of the opportunity and throw a lasso for Henna but try as they may she is not pulled out. They pull the robe altogether and she is pulled out of the swamp. Then they put her in a blanket and carry her in a cargo carriage. Eesa walks in the front. Men push him away. As soon as the carriage starts to go, Eesa runs after them. Girl is standing. The swamp is in the background. She looks ahead. Eesa is running after the carriage.
Area of the barbed wires-Day
Thistles. Special sound of a bird twice repeated. Eesa and his hands full of jasmines appear by the bushes. Behind bars another prisoner shows up instead of the previous one.
New prisoner: Who did you want to see?
Eesa: I have brought jasmines for my father.
New prisoner: When they brought me here they took him away to carry out his punishment.
Some of the flowers fall on the ground from Eesa’s hand.
Eesa enters an area that we have already seen. It is where the stoning took place. A large crowd has gathered to watch. Eesa pushes through people but it is impossible. He tries hard. The faces around Eesa look familiar and strange. Eesa pushes his way through people and runs. He runs slow and stretched out. Sound of rubble falling is louder. From Eesa’s point of view a handful of stones are in the air that when they fall on the ground they burry his mother Henna’s dress. Eesa raises his hands to stop the stones but it is impossible. The hands throwing the stones seem like they are dancing in a choreographed way. Eesa throws the flowers in his hands towards his mother’s dress. The hands are still throwing stones. Gradually, every thing becomes highly contrasted and everything takes the shade of stones. Now, all the people have turned into stones. Now, the hands throwing stones have cut pieces of their own bodies and throw them forward to the extent that nothing remains of them except the desert and showers of stones that pile up on top of each other.
Summer 1990