A Social History of Iranian Cinema, Volume 2

The Industrializing Years, 1941–1978

A Social History of Iranian Cinema, Volume 2

Book Pages: 560 Illustrations: 83 photographs, 7 tables Published: September 2011

Author: Hamid Naficy

Media Studies > Film, Middle East Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Hamid Naficy is one of the world’s leading authorities on Iranian film, and A Social History of Iranian Cinema is his magnum opus. Covering the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first and addressing documentaries, popular genres, and art films, it explains Iran’s peculiar cinematic production modes, as well as the role of cinema and media in shaping modernity and a modern national identity in Iran. This comprehensive social history unfolds across four volumes, each of which can be appreciated on its own.

Volume 2 spans the period of Mohammad Reza Shah’s rule, from 1941 until 1978. During this time Iranian cinema flourished and became industrialized, at its height producing more than ninety films each year. The state was instrumental in building the infrastructures of the cinema and television industries, and it instituted a vast apparatus of censorship and patronage. During the Second World War the Allied powers competed to control the movies shown in Iran. In the following decades, two distinct indigenous cinemas emerged. The more popular, traditional, and commercial filmfarsi movies included tough-guy films and the “stewpot” genre of melodrama, with plots reflecting the rapid changes in Iranian society. The new-wave cinema was a smaller but more influential cinema of dissent, made mostly by foreign-trained filmmakers and modernist writers opposed to the regime. Ironically, the state both funded and censored much of the new-wave cinema, which grew bolder in its criticism as state authoritarianism consolidated. A vital documentary cinema also developed in the prerevolutionary era.

A Social History of Iranian Cinema
Volume 1: The Artisanal Era, 1897–1941
Volume 2: The Industrializing Years, 1941–1978
Volume 3: The Islamicate Period, 1978–1984
Volume 4: The Globalizing Era, 1984–2010


“These volumes reveal the unspoken side of Iranian culture, society and history within the context of film and cinema. This marvellously detailed account of Iranian cinema is a must-read for anyone who is interested in understanding Iran in the past and present, a true story of a long-term, ongoing revolution in Iranian culture, society and film.” — Arezou Zalipour, Media International Australia

“While the first two volumes that I have had the pleasure to review here are indeed comprehensive, covering great depth and breadth, I find Naficy to be a very open, collegial scholar whose work certainly does not close down the field. Rather, at times, Naficy openly signals that more research is still to be conducted into certain areas ensuring that the field of Iranian cinema studies may live on with vital and vibrant energy. Graduate students in particular should take heed of these openings in the text, for therein lie great possibilities for future, compelling and original scholarship in the field.... I can only conclude my review by emphasizing what I said in my opening comment: this is rich, compelling, and complex scholarship at its very finest. Thanks Hamid!”
— Michelle Langford, Senses of Cinema

“The four volumes of A Social History of Iranian Cinema constitute a landmark achievement. . . . For students of Iranian cinema, I can think of no better place to begin than these four volumes. The sheer expansiveness of Naficy’s project is a testimony to the untold narratives, theoretical paradigms, and concepts waiting to be found in the ongoing history of Iranian cinema." — Sara Saljoughi, International Journal of Middle East Studies

A Social History of Iranian Cinema is an extraordinary achievement, a scholarly, detailed work in which a massive amount of material is handled with the lightest touch. Yet it is Hamid Naficy’s personal experience and investment that give this project a particular distinction. Only a skilled historian, one who is on the inside of his story, could convey so vividly the symbolic significance of cinema for twentieth-century Iran and its deep intertwining with national culture and politics.” — Laura Mulvey, author of Death 24× a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image

“Hamid Naficy is already established as the doyen of historians, as well as critics, of Iranian cinema. Based on his deep understanding of modern Iranian political and social history, this detailed critical study of cinema in Iran since its debut more than a century ago is his crowning achievement. To say that it is a must-read for virtually all concerned with modern Iranian history, and not just cinema and the arts, is to state the obvious.” — Homa Katouzian, author of The Persians: Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Iran

“Hamid Naficy seamlessly brings together a century of Iran’s cinematic history, marking its technological advancements and varying genres and storytelling techniques, and perceptively addressing its sociopolitical impact on the formation of Iran’s national identity. A Social History of Iranian Cinema is essential reading not only for the cinephile interested in Iran’s unique and rich cinematic history but also for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of the cataclysmic events and metamorphoses that have shaped Iran, from the pivotal Constitutional Revolution that ushered in the twentieth century through the Islamic Revolution, and into the twenty-first century.” — Shirin Neshat, visual artist, filmmaker, and director of the film Women Without Men

“This magisterial four-volume study of Iranian cinema will be the defining work on the topic for a long time to come. Situating film within its sociopolitical context, Hamid Naficy covers the period leading up to the Constitutional Revolution and continues after the Islamic Revolution, examining questions about modernity, globalization, Islam, and feminism along the way. A Social History of Iranian Cinema is a guide for our thinking about cinema and society and the ways that the creative expression of film should be examined as part of a wider engagement with social issues.” — Annabelle Sreberny, coauthor of Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Hamid Naficy is Professor of Radio-Television-Film and the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication at Northwestern University. He is the author of An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking, The Making of Exile Cultures: Iranian Television in Los Angeles, and (in Persian) Film-e Mostanad, a two-volume history of nonfiction cinema around the world. Naficy helped to launch ongoing annual Iranian film festivals in Los Angeles and Houston.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Organization of the Volumes xxi

A Word about Illustrations xxvii

List of Abbreviations xxix

1. International Haggling over Iranian Public Screens 1

2. The Statist Documentary Cinema and Its Alternatives 49

3. Commercial Cinema's Evolution: From Artisanal Mode to Hybrid Production 147

4. Family Melodramas and Comedies: The Stewpot Movie Genre 197

5. Males, Masculinity, and Power: The Tough-Guy Movie Genre and Its Evolution 261

6. A Dissident Cinema: New-Wave Films and the End of an Era 325

Notes 433

Bibliography 473

Index 497
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Honorable Mention, 2013 Katherine Singer Kovacs Award (Society for Cinema and Media Studies)

Winner, 2012 Houshang Pourshariati Iranian Studies Book Award (presented by Middle East Studies Association)

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