Gabbeh (1996) Script

GABBEH A film by Mohsen MAKHMALBAF Cast:

Abbas SAYAHI, Shaghayegh DJODAT Hossein MOHARAMI, R. MOHARAMI Parvaneh GHALANDARI Sound: Mojtaba MIRTAHMASEBI Sound mixing: Abbas RASTEGARPOUR and Behroz SHAHAMAT Focus pullers:

Shahriar ASADI, Behzad DORANI Director's assistants:


Executive producer: Mostafa MIRZAKHANI Producers: Khalil DAROUDCHI and Khalil MAHMOUDI Set photographer: Mohamad AHMADI Music: Houssein ALIZADEH Director of photography: Mahmoud KALARI

You were moaning last night, saying your feet hurt.

You couldn't sleep.

Let me wash the gabbeh.

Let me do it - I've got boots on.

Pass me the boots.

No, there's no need.

I'll do it. You get the food ready. I'll wash the gabbeh.

Let me do it.

No, you've got sore feet.

Give me the boots.

No, I won't give them to you.

You see to the food. I'll see to the gabbeh.

I'm not a woman who serves in the kitchen!

Will you let me wash it or won't you?

Little darling, precious darling, if you don't wash it, who will?

My precious gabbeh, beautiful gabbeh, how pretty you are!

Why have you turned blue?

Who is this horseman who is carrying off this girl?

Tell me who wove you.

You are like the full moon!

What is your name?


The water is so clear.

Won't you wash me?

Of course we want to wash you.

May I lean on your young shoulders?

I have no more strength.

Of course you can.

You look familiar. What's your father's name?

His name is Weave...

Weave of the wool. There he is.

There's Father.

We never stay in the same place long.

But if we do, our father forces us to leave.

One day, I fell in love with a horseman.

He had a strange voice, as if he were but an illusion.

He followed our tribe like a shadow to take me away...

Were I younger, I would ask for your hand.

I think your father is a kind man.

Appearances can be deceptive. He has a wicked temper.

So much for your father. What about your mother?

Is she kind and fair?

No, in our family, we say my father's bad temper is due to my mother's ugliness.

There she is.

My mother's name is Sakineh.

I am the eldest daughter.

Pass me the boots so I can wash the gabbeh.

Your feet are sore. They'll feel worse if you get them wet.

I'll wash it.

See how beautiful she is.

I am filled with wonder.

As soon as he sees you, he forgets me.

Miss Gabbeh, she is jealous of herself.

Little girl, you who are so fair, do you not have a suitor?

You were my suitor when you were younger.

How foolish I was!

See how he breaks my heart!

Do you not have a suitor?

Why does his voice sound like a wolf's?

It's a secret between him and me.

He says: "I can't bear it. Why don't you come?"

Do you love him?

Why don't you run away with him?

Because of my father. He'd kill me.

If he had done so, I would be free.

He calls. Should I go?

Don't go or your father will kill you.

Talk to him about it first.

Grandma's ill.

When Uncle returns he'll take her to a doctor.

Father said I could only marry when my uncle comes back from town.

But my suitor is becoming impatient.

Once five? Five.

Two fives? Ten.

Three fives? Fifteen.

Four fives? Twenty.

Five fives? Twenty-five.

Remain seated.

Stand up.

May I?

What is your name? Mohsen Jahanpour.

And you? Tahmineh.

What kind of school is this?

An itinerant one. Where's Fars?

In Iran.

Well, well, a class without a teacher...

Let's make the most of it.

Now repeat after me:


What does that mean?



Now tell me what color that is.


The red of a poppy.

Now tell me what color that is.


The yellow of a wheat field.

And that?


The blue of God's heaven.

And that?


The shimmering blue of the seas.

And that?


The yellow of the sun which lights up the world.

The yellow of the sun and the blue of the water make the green of plants.


Pure green.

Yellow and red together in the sun...

Spring came, but my uncle still did not come.

In the spring, the whole tribe broke camp, except for our clan.

My father was waiting for my uncle to return and take Grandma into town.

She was ill, but did not want to die.

She wanted to see Uncle first, but he came too late.

Father buried Grandma in a lush cemetery.

Hey there!

Hello, Sakineh. How are you? Hello, sir.

Don't you recognize me?

No. You don't recognize me?

And now?

You are my husband's brother.


Why didn't you come with your wife?

I am still young. Who would marry me?

Hello, Zinat. How are you?

You recognized me without my hat on!

Miss Gabbeh, your uncle is here.

The wedding day is nearing.

How are you, Sakineh?

And the children? How many do you have?

Seven. Come on, children. Your uncle's here.

Zinat, are you well?

Hello. Hello, Uncle.

How you've grown!

Tell your uncle to put in a good word for you.

My uncle? He doesn't even remember me.

He doesn't even know if he's my uncle on my mother's or my father's side!

Is this your child?

You have been away so long you no longer recognize them.

You mock me. I shall show you.

Zinat, go over there.

Sakineh, go the other side.

Soraya, go to your mother.

Fatomeh, go over there.

Reza, you go there too. Go with Zinat.

You look like my brother.

So did I get it right? No!

Well, where did I go wrong?

Our uncle brought us together under the tree.

This tree is the symbol of our family.

A new branch sprouts with each new birth.

When one of us dies, a branch is cut off.

Grandmother recognized each child by the branches of the tree.

See? Uncle didn't ask after me.

He didn't ask where Gabbeh was.

He only came back for his mother.

Where's my mother? Where's Narendj?


Mother! Narendj!

Your Abbas is back.

Where are you, Mom?

Too late. Your guardian angel has passed away.

Too late. Your guardian angel has passed away.

She wanted to finish this gabbeh for your wedding and send it to you in town.

It is time for the wedding.

Alas, not mine. My uncle's.

My father said: "Your uncle still isn't married.

"It's his turn first, then it'll be yours."


Uncle, please get married.

The yellow of the wheat field.

Children, what is that sound?

A sparrow.

And what can you hear over there?

A sparrow.

Old man, let it fly away. So my uncle gets married quickly.

The sparrow?

The singing bird.

The singing bird.

Thanks to the yellow,

the sparrow has become a canary.

Anyone there?

My uncle dreamed he would meet his wife near a spring.

A girl who could sing like a canary.

My father looked for a wife for my uncle in each and every clan.

The girls were all pretty, but none sang like a canary.

Uncle said he would find his wife near a spring.

My uncle saw this spring in a dream.

Our tribe stopped at every spring.

But we never met a girl who sang like a canary.

Where is the spring?

Where you hear the sound of water.



What is your name?

I am the daughter of Aladad.

I was looking for water, but I found singing. What a beautiful poem.

I'd never heard it before. I wrote it last night.

You're the first to hear it. When? Last night?

That's right.

So you wrote it? Of course.

Let me help with the dishes.

Are you a poet?

No, I'm Aladad's daughter.

I'd never heard this poem before. Tell me it again.

(Turkish dialect)

Bravo. But tell me it in Persian.

Above the spring I stand Below the spring I stand The pebble in the spring I am When my beloved passes by...

The canary he holds I am I am in three parts...

Did you write it?



Who did you write it for? For your beloved?

No, for myself. I have no beloved.

Aren't you married?


And why's that?


Time flies by. How old are you?

Have you come from town? Yes.

If you had a suitor, would you get married?

I'll have to wait and see what fate has in store for me.

Supposing I...

How bold he is!

At his age... There's no fool like an old fool!

She's stolen his heart.

Quiet. Let them get married quickly.

If you get angry at me, what will you do?

Huddle up and recite poems.

Like what?

I am thirsty, you are pure water I am thirsty, you are pure water

I am weary, you are energy I am tired and old and withered You are youth, you are a bud I am thirsty, you are pure water

I am weary, you are energy...




What does that mean?

I liked your poem. I'll marry you.

Where were you? The child is thirsty.

I'm sorry. Fill this up.

I shall help this young lady.

Be patient.

Just while the water skin's being filled It's taking for ever.

No, you're not patient enough.

I was in love once - I understand your suffering. Let me help.

I asked for the hand of Aladad's daughter.

And here's some sugar to celebrate.

I must gather the wool or else my uncle's wedding will be delayed.

Aladad's daughter, did you weave this gabbeh?

Of course. Who else could have done it?

Why is there this horseman?

The bride is taken away by a horseman.

Yes, but not if the bridegroom is old.

That's fine for young couples.

I hear the call of old age when I see my hair is grey...

Come to the wedding celebrations. Everyone's tired of waiting.

I'm coming. Don't do anything to make me regret this wedding.

Looking is not seeing Behind every cradle hides a tomb Behind every joy, sadness...

Why did you recite a poem? Are you angry with me?


I am happy and contented.

But... Fifty-seven years have gone by Alas! Gone by so quickly...

Do not be sad.

Although my body grows old and my hair is turning grey, my heart is full of desire and hope My body is like a cold, silent dungeon But my heart is like a happy child...

My uncle's wedding is woven into the gabbeh.

Our clan left my uncle and his wife by the river bank to have their honeymoon.

Why are you crying, Miss Gabbeh?

Because I still have to wait.

Father said Mother must first give birth.

After that, I can get married.

But your father said you could after your uncle's wedding!

Now he says after Mother's given birth.

When is she due to give birth?

When we've broken camp, when we've walked a while, when we've worked a while, when we've crossed the river...

The women blew into the water skins to inflate them.

The men tied them to the rafts and the boys put the animals on the rafts so the water would not wash them away.

We had a flock of ewes.

My mother worked harder than the others, but there was still no sign of the birth.

We crossed a freshwater river and two saltwater rivers... but still my mother did not give birth.


The hen's laid an egg!

It's time.

It's time!

Uncle, stop everything.

Stop, I say!

I am a stranger.

Why's that man stopping? He should go away.

Life is color!

Love is color!

Man is color!

Woman is color!

Love is color!

Child is color!

Love is pain!

You never gave me a child.

I'd like to have a child.

How beautiful!

I'm leaving for good.

I don't give a damn!

The old woman has left.

Do you want to run away with me?

Father would kill us.

You're lying.

God doesn't forgive liars.

Tell me the truth.

Don't lie.

You don't love me. You're lying.

I'm not lying. I love you.

It's not true.

I know you're lying.

Here's a baby. Stop complaining!

I'm sure you're lying.

Your father won't see.

What a beautiful baby he is.

Has he drunk some milk?


He hasn't?

Go get some milk.

Go and milk his mother.

He's hungry.

Give him his mother's milk.

Sakineh, the baby's hungry.

Life is color!

Death is...

You told me to wash the gabbeh to feel better. So why are you crying?

Because I still must wait.

My father and my uncle aren't here.

Nor is my mother.

They have taken my sister-in-law to see a doctor in town.

I am to look after the children and the animals.

One of the sheep has a chill.

My sister Sholeh has disappeared.

Don't run off.

Mind, you'll fall!

Mom! Uncle! I'm going to fall...




It's my fault.

Why did you stop? Go on!

Why did you stop? Go on, move!

Go the other way.

By day, the girls kept watch over me, by night, the men did.

I had no chance to run away.

The day Grandmother's gabbeh was finished, my uncle told me I should run away.

He said he'd take my father on one side so he wouldn't see me leave.

O mother, your gabbeh is finished.

I'd like to sleep on it and never get up again.

That's when I had a chance of escape, but I didn't dare.

Why won't you come? Tell me why!

Why do you hurt me?

Why don't we run away together?

Come on. Don't make me suffer.

Your father isn't here.

You've made me so unhappy.

You've made me lose my mind.

Why won't you listen to me?

Stop making me angry!

Because of you, I am like a suffering soul.

Why won't you listen to me?

Do you not love me?

You do not love me!

You do not love me.

I brought you some apples.

Why don't you eat them?

You don't love me.

He killed them!

He killed them!

Miss Gabbeh, will you help me wash the gabbeh tomorrow?

I can't do it. My feet hurt.

Miss Gabbeh, do what you want with me, but don't break my heart.

The old woman has left. Don't lie.

Let's leave together. How many times must I beg you?

You don't love me.

You're a liar...

You don't love me. Tell me the truth.

My father didn't really kill us.

It was only a rumor. He just said it so that my sisters wouldn't run away and so that they never answered the wolf's call.

That is why, for forty years now, no one has heard the canary's song near a spring.

Subtitles: J. Miller and S. Hovsepian

With the participation of the French Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs