top of page

Croesus’s Treasure

The title’s translation is based on the listing on IMDB

گنج قارون

Croesus' Treasure (گنج قارون) 2.jpg

A Great Opening

By Amir Faress • 12/25/19

A major box office success, Croesus' Treasure (1965) marked a turning point in Iranian cinema. In years to come, the film’s title became synonymous with an entire genre of filmmaking, as highbrow critics used it derogatorily in reference to a spate of rich vs. poor class-tinged B-movie melodramas in the final decade before the 1979 Revolution.

Though already a rising talent, Fardin, the lead actor, became a superstar (arguably Iran’s first) on account of his performance in Croesus' Treasure. He went on to smash the box office time and again until the eve of the Revolution, when he was forced to retire. The film’s influence was such that even Samuel Kachikian, an acclaimed avant-garde filmmaker of the 1950s whose much heralded Hichcockian style had done much to introduce plot subtleties and technical creativities, had no choice but to abandon the genre of his choice in favor of Croesus-themed melodramas in the 1960s.

Though the film’s influence is readily acknowledged, Iranian intellectuals are loath to admit that Croesus' Treasure is actually a well-made film. But it is! Take for instance the film’s opening sequence, which could easily be mistaken for one from the best of the silent era: simple, intelligent, and Chaplinesqe – relying almost exclusively on the power of images.

The film kicks off with two news headlines, which read like flashcards as they pop up on screen over a printing press: “Doctors have given up on treating the affluent Gharoon (Croesus),” and “The famous affluent Gharoon, on the threshold of death.” Within seconds, the audience knows everything it needs to know about Gharoon’s prominence in the society.

The titles begin rolling over the image of Gharoon’s mansion. This lasts about a minute – short by the standards of the time, but long enough for us to dwell on the idea of his affluence.

The film then cuts to Gharoon being driven in a fancy car to his mansion, where we expect him to be greeted by large crowd of family, friends, acquaintances, and perhaps even strangers. But there are only strangers awaiting his arrival: a large number of servants bow as he walks in. The guests must be elsewhere in the mansion, the dining room perhaps. But as Gharoon enters the dining room, walking along a large dining table before taking his seat at the helm, it suddenly dawns on us that he’s the only guest; there are no acquaintances to be seen other than servants.

bottom of page