Before the revolution

Israeli director Dan Shadur talks about his new documentary about life under the Shah

The unexpected moment in Israeli director Dan Shadur’s new documentary, Before the Revolution, about the Israelis who lived and worked in Iran at the end of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s rule, comes just as the revolution succeeds. In archival 8mm footage, found and remastered by Shadur and producer Barak Heymann, triumphant demonstrators celebrate the Shah’s departure in January of 1978, the culmination of months of mass protests against his regime.

What’s surprising is not the images themselves, but the music that Shadur has provided for them: Rather than the threatening minor-key soundtrack that usually underscores Israeli depictions of the Islamic Revolution, a rumbling doom that signifies the birth of an existential threat, the music that plays as the smiling crowds celebrate is upbeat and free. As people shout “Khomeini, Khomeini, we wait for you!” in expectation of the Ayatollah’s impending return from exile, the music is joyous, inviting the Israeli viewer to celebrate along with them.

Read the whole story from 2013 in Tablet.