Outside of the work of Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian cinema can be a mixed bag. Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh, while heralding plenty of top ten list appearances and four star reviews, is a mixed bag that's really quite typical for that country's filmmaking industry. The images are lush and simply fascinating, while the story is nothing special at all.

A gabbeh is a type of woven rug, and the one in question is a gabbeh owned by an old couple (never named) who treasure it as an heirloom. This gabbeh features a picture of a man and woman riding on a horse, and when the couple goes to wash the rug (which is accomplished by tossing it into a river), the girl sprouts to life. Her story involves the other figure seen on the rug, a man who loved her from afar, for reasons we'll discover as the film plays out.

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