Want to See
Not Interested
Rate it ½ star
Rate it 1 star
Rate it 1½ stars
Rate it 2 stars
Rate it 2½ stars
Rate it 3 stars
Rate it 3½ stars
Rate it 4 stars
Rate it 4½ stars
Rate it 5 stars
Samira Makmalbaf makes her sophomore feature outing with this bold, elliptical look at the plight of marginalized populations in modern Iran. The film opens with a group of Kurdish teachers lugging blackboards on their backs in the rocky hinterland looking for illiterates to educate. The group splits up in a panic when they are suddenly confronted by a helicopter border patrol. Two pedagogues, Reeboir (Bahman Ghobadi) and Said (Said Mohamadi), camouflage their chalkboards with mud and take separate paths. Reeboir runs into a bevy of semi-feral adolescent boys who look haggard beyond their… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"When I first saw Blackboards three years ago I was surprised as well as puzzled that in some ways it reminded me of John Ford's 1950 western Wagon Master."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"There's no denying the strength of these simple images, and the bleak message of learning to sort out your real priorities in times of strife."
‑ Peter Howell, Toronto Star
"The entire film is saved by its periphery, where Makhamalbaf stops trying to teach us a lesson."
‑ Michael W. Phillips, Jr., Goatdog's Movies
"A stark metaphor about diasporic people wandering aimlessly through rocky, desolate terrain, buffeted by unseen forces beyond their control."
‑ Duane Dudek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"People cinema at its finest."
‑ Harry Guerin, RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)
"Reeboir varies between a sweet smile and an angry bark, while Said attempts to wear down possible pupils through repetition. It has no affect on the Kurds, but it wore me down."
‑ Erik Lundegaard, Seattle Times
"A selection of scenes in search of a movie."
‑ Rick Groen, Globe and Mail
"It's a stunning lyrical work of considerable force and truth."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"does paint some memorable images ..., but Makhmalbaf keeps her distance from the characters"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"That is essentially what's missing from Blackboards -- the sense of something bigger, some ultimate point."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"A heartening tale of small victories and enduring hope."
‑ Carla Meyer, San Francisco Chronicle
"Its metaphors are opaque enough to avoid didacticism, and the film succeeds as an emotionally accessible, almost mystical work."
‑ Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
"...a poignant and powerful narrative that reveals that reading writing and arithmetic are not the only subjects to learn in life."
‑ Moira Sullivan, Movie Magazine International
"The stripped-down dramatic constructs, austere imagery and abstract characters are equal parts poetry and politics, obvious at times but evocative and heartfelt."
‑ Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Like many Iranian filmmakers, Makhmalbaf prefers ambiguity to agitprop in her approach to politically contentious subject matter, but the results are still bracing and affecting."
‑ Jason Anderson, eye WEEKLY
More reviews for Blackboards on Rotten Tomatoes