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Mamal Amricayi

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

ممل آمریکایی

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The Boat Scene

By Amir Faress • 12/25/19

Mamal, a small-time thief in his thirties still living at home in a poor part of Tehran, harbors big dreams about going to America and making it big. Posing as a well-to-do engineer from America-- where he counted Burt Lancaster as a friend and Marilyn Monroe as a lover (though she sadly took her own life seeing no commitment)--Mamal, by hook and by crook, manages to win the heart of an affluent young woman named Nasrin.

He is enamored by Nasrin, to say nothing of the possibilities inherent in this relationship, i.e. the doors it opens. Not long after making his acquaintance, Nasrin’s mother puts down the ten thousand-dollar deposit for the US Visa. Mamal is now on top of the world.


“Help me!”


Riding a boat on the Caspian Ocean at an affluent vacation resort, the two take their relationship to its next level. The scene is accompanied by a song, “Komakam kon! Komakam kon!” (“Help me! Help me!”) It is the sound of Mamal’s deepest desires, not just his yearning to go to America, but to leave behind the status quo. “I’m full of temptations for departure.” It is a song about a fish confined in a springhead desiring to join the sea. For Mamal, staying is tantamount to death. “Help me! Help me! Don’t let me [stay] here [and] kiss the lips of death.” The status quo is simply awful, so awful that one is tempted to leave it at any price. Yes, the song is very likely about suicide, “I’m full of temptations for departure.”


It then dawns on us that the singer’s voice sounds terribly familiar, and it is not that of Mamal. It is the voice of Googoosh, the actress playing Nasrin. Coming from her, the lyrics strike us as a bit odd. She is the one who has everything. She is Mamal’s ticket to freedom… to America. Or is she? The song foreshadows a major turning point in which we find out Nasrin is actually a poor, lonely young woman with no one to rely on except those who use and abuse her. Far from being anybody’s ticket to freedom, she is, herself, in need of one such ticket. Hence the cry, “Help me! Help me!” It is not clear to whom the prayer-like pleadings are addressed. God? Mamal? Nasrin needs help every bit as much as Mamal, and perhaps more so. The two are in the same boat (literally in this case).

I cannot think of any scene in any film where the accompanying song lyrics are in such harmony with the underlying substance. It is simply masterful.

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