Persian movies can usually be categorized into two groups: those that are made solely for entertainment and those that carry political or social messages. Majid Majidi’s movies (Baran, Children of Heaven) are part of the latter.

Although his movies can at times be interpreted as carrying an undercurrent of politics, his works mostly touch on man’s frailty, both in social and personal contexts. The Song of Sparrows, Majidi’s newest creation, is no exception.

Karim, played by Reza Naji, is an honest ostrich farmer and lives with his family in a rural village. While helping her brother Hossein clean up an old water well, Karim’s daughter loses her expensive hearing aid. At the same time and despite his best effort, Karim loses his job when an ostrich runs away from the farm.

While trying to find a way to buy a new hearing aid and find a job, Karim accidentally joins the ranks of motorbike messengers. From giving rides to passengers to carrying merchandise, Karim seems to be able to make ends meet. However, the more he gains material freedom, the more he starts to lose his humanity.

Majidi tends to use a lot of symbolism in his films. The Song of Sparrows also includes many symbolic elements. One element is water.

The well in the beginning has a lot of dirty water, perhaps foreshadowing Karim’s personality change. However, as the story progresses the well is cleaned up and filled with clean water, pointing to Karim’s transformations.

Another symbolic characteristic of water is seen when the fruits Karim bought with the money he earned fall into the stream. The body of water, here again, acts as a cleansing agent. It washes the “dirtiness” of that fruit and ultimately the money the fruit was bought with, and in the process purifies Karim’s actions.

However, the most notable symbolic element is the presence of the ostrich whenever there is a conflict between what Karim was and what he is becoming. The ostrich represents a symbol of his honest self and helps him find his salvation, freeing him from the materialistic monster that he has become.

In fact, his downhill fall started when he lost one of the birds. At the end, the return of the lost ostrich represents Karim’s return to humanity.

Grade: A

The Song of Sparrows releases in select theaters April 10.