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In a ravaged, brutally beautiful mountain landscape along the Iran-Iraq border, a group of teachers, with blackboards strapped to their backs, roam the countryside in search of pupils. After an attack by an army helicopter, two of the teachers, Said and Reeboir, separate from the group. Reeboir travels the dirt roads with a gang of illiterate boys who smuggle stolen goods across the border. Meanwhile, Said joins up with a group of old and tired men who, after years of being refugees, struggle to get back across the border to their bombed village of Halabcheh. Virtually none of the Kurds… 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