Signs and Hidden Discourses - Presentation of Sexuality in the Post-revolutionary Iranian Cinema (War-time Period 1980-1988)

Bazyan, Farhad

The cinema in Iran was strongly influenced by the political changes after the 1979 Iranian revolution. After the revolution, the new theocratic power began to change the functional role of cinema differently than in the past. Although there were still traces of hidden messages in the pre-revolution cinema due to the political and social situation, the newly imposed restrictions pushed Iranian cinema to new forms and content. Screenwriters and directors had to be more cautious about terms like sexuality. The incidence of sexuality, the core of which was formed during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), continues to this day in Iranian cinema.

It is important to understand that sexuality and the demonstration of desire and affection in Iranian cinema are more than just what we see. This cinema, like others, is full of sexuality and eroticism, voyeurism and fetishism, gaze and lust, sadistic and masochistic behavior, hidden in visual form.

The importance of my dissertation is to obtain a better and deeper understanding of cinematic presentation of sexuality in the era 1980-1988 where a number of historic hidden signs entered the body of cinema, paintings and literature. The hidden signs that came into the body of the cinema were transformed and, with the subtext of all the cinematic genres of their time and after them, expanded.

In this dissertation I will examine these sexual semiotics of selected 8 films over the period from the early revolution to the late war. I will analyze the image codes rooted in Persian culture as well as their presence and appearance on the screen. Therefore, the selected films are divided into two groups each year. 1) propaganda cinema of war and 2) opposition cinema. This categorization will support the analysis of the film form based on the semiotics generated therein.

For a better understanding of these codes in Iran's cinema, the proposed method in this dissertation is the Semiotics (based on Charles S. Peirce's theory of signs, which had a great influence on literary, film and cultural studies in the second half of the 20th century.

The implication and the paraphrase of the cinematic image helps this dissertation to analyse the most prohibited subject in Iranian cinema; sexual presentation in the first years after Revolution and the effect of this period on the Iranian cinema up to now.