Perspectives, Perceptions and Cinema
The poet William Blake once intoned, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite” (Freeman 85). When it comes to human perception, there is no denying that our hardwiring (neurons, sensory organs, brain chemistry, etc.) and our personality (type, maturity level, cognitive ability, etc.) play a role in shaping perceptions. However, most individual argue that the social construction of reality and identity for groups plays an even larger role in shaping human perception. As one sociologist maintains, “Shaping perceptions is the key to social power. It is our social environment that largely determines what we perceive (and what we ignore) and which channels the ways in which we cognitively process that information” (Social 1-2)
Majid Majidi is a filmmaker whose films like The Color of Paradise, Children of Heaven, and Baran, attempt to illustrate how social constructions of identity impact perception of others and the world around us. An Iranian who is used to the distinctions made between the more than 1.4 million Afghani refugees living in Iran and Iranians, Majidi uses a variety of techniques in such films to help convey how perception is learned with respect to our perceptions of others. From utilizing cross-dressing and gender, using a blind boy to see, and showing how love crosses such learned constructions of perception, Majidi is able to make viewers examine their own perceptions. This is particularly true with respect to stereotypes and prejudice aimed at others, typically minorities, the uneducated, and the impoverished. In Iran, matters of religion and years of conflict with Afghanistan have served to sublimate Afghan refugees to the “undesirable” other in contrast to the “desirable” Iranian image that is viewed as desirable.
Majidi’s films explore the impact on the poor, the lame, the feeble, and the ostraci...