I first saw Children of Heaven in a high school film showing. In the opening credits, a middle-aged man repairs an old pair of pink shoes. To be honest, it wasn't very alluring to my teenage self. Little did I know that this seemingly boring movie would be so charming. There was even a point in the movie where everyone was shouting out of excitement. More than a decade later, I watched this movie again, but this time, with my dad. He loved it and had reacted the same way as I did.
So what is this 1997 Iranian film all about? The opening credits say it all! And nope, I'm not referring to the repair man. It's the shoes. They're not magical like Dorothy's, but they play a huge part in the movie.
The cute pink shoes are owned by a girl named Zahra. Her brother Ali goes to the shoemaker to retrieve his litter sister's shoes. On his way home, Ali goes to the market to get some potatoes. He unknowingly leaves the shoes on a crate only to let a garbage man collect them. When Ali comes back, they are gone. He gets home and we see his little sister beaming as she excitedly runs to him. She is told about the incident in the market and is devastated. We quickly learn that they are the only pair that she owns. They are so poor that they can't afford to buy another pair. Telling this to their parents doesn't seem like an option too since their father would surely beat Ali. Plus, their parents are already having problems with the rent.
Without shoes, how does Zahra go to school? The siblings decide that they'll share Ali's sneakers. Zahra's classes start after Ali's classes end. So, every day after the bell rings, Ali runs as fast as he can, while Zahra impatiently waits at their meeting place. It's a tough setup for the children, but it's the only solution they can think of.
I can't stress enough how much I love the children. The characters are so endearing. As my dad commented, the actor who plays Ali looks pitiful. He has this expression that would make you want to protect him. He would make my heart melt each time he shed tears without fail. I love that Ali is unbelievably mature for his age. He chooses to take care of his mother over playing with his neighbors. The children may be poor, but they are very respectful and kind. This movie serves as a reminder that we have to be thankful for what we have. I even own more than a pair of shoes. It makes me feel rich! I'm not surprised that my Orthodox Christian school that disapproved Harry Potter had picked this movie.
I recommend you to watch this in one of your family movie nights. This is a children-friendly movie that even adults will love. After watching this movie as an adult, I think I had enjoyed and appreciated it even more. My dad and I couldn't stop talking about it after more than a week of watching it! Needless to say, this is one of the films that are hard to forget. I give this movie a two thumbs up!