The 1997 movie “Children of Heaven” presents a touching story of a common poor family from Iran that barely stays afloat financially, and can afford only the first need goods and services. Despite working hard all day, main characters’ parents are not able to earn the money to buy all of the needed things for their family. But nevertheless, almost penniless, the whole family stays friendly to each other, not forgetting their family responsibilities and cultural values.
Physical setting between poor and rich neighborhoods
Watching the movie, the difference between poor and rich neighborhoods can be seen only once, thus not being the main point of the movie. This difference appears only in an episode when Ali and his father go to look for any kind job in rich neighborhoods, in order to make some money. When they enter the rich neighborhood the difference between the settings is astounding. From their medieval looking like area they come to an area of modern houses and opulent villas, which do not actually differ from their analogues in wealthy developed countries. The streets are clean, paved with paving stone, with drainage running underground and well-maintained trees standing on both sides of the roads.
Whereas the Ali’s neighborhood is grey in color and looks like it is the beginning of the 20th century outside. Streets are poorly paved with concrete, with seldom trees and the drainage (possibly sewage system) running in the middle of the street. When inside the Ali’s house or public school it is just as bad, as outside. Having only one small room for 2 adults and 3 kids, with no kitchen and, I assume, no bathroom as well, almost no furniture is present in Ali’s house, except a TV, and a couple of kitchen pots and dished needed to cook and eat food. Instead of having beds there are few carpets on the floor for Ali’s family to sleep on, sit on and basically spend their free time.
Talking about Ali’s school the story stays the same, with no new equipment, classrooms being overfilled with children, and overall conditions being just terrible to be spending even that amount of time in such a place.
Attitudes and cultural differences between haves and have-nots
After carefully watching the movie itself, the attitudes and cultural differences between haves and have-nots cannot be clearly distinguished, as no actual comparison is provided in the movie. The movie plot tells us a story of a life of a poor family, with seldom depiction of the life of the rich ones. And what can be said is that these two social classes share the same attitudes and cultural beliefs, but with a slight difference though. Being poor means to appreciate every little thing that is given to you by life, to appreciate every single person that is good to you and helps in such a complicated quest. And that is exactly how Ali’s family treats life, treats people around, helping with what they can, and receiving help as gratitude. Basically that is the most essential component in a life of a poor person/family/society. While as wealthy people, being able to afford everything they need, might not appreciate all the good things done to them by others. But still there are few, who treat the poor as equals, actually helping those with what they can.
Family values, ties and social network
Family values and ties are definitely stronger in Ali’s family, where everyone is responsible for everyone, where everyone needs and simply must help everyone to survive. With Ali’s father being at work every day, his mother, who is partially physically disorder due to her illness, is the only person to look after the whole household, as well as 3 kids. And that is the exact reason, why Ali and his younger sister always help their mother in cleaning around the house, cooking, even doing laundry. What is even more astonishing, is that despite their young age (Ali and his sister), they behave themselves as adults in this situation, completely realizing that they are the only people that can help and that their mother can count on. And without such strong family ties and values, their family would not simply be able to exist.
On the contrary, rich families might not have such strong family ties, as there might not be any particular reason for their unity. In such a family, everyone is able to do anything he needs or wants to do, thus excluding the possible mutual interests or activities that make families stronger.
The story presented in a movie allows us to take a peek at a life of ordinary people from Iran, who are incredibly poor and barely make their living, having numerous debts and financial difficulties, but who, despite all those circumstances, manage to stay together as a family, putting their family and social values on top of the situation, the thing that helps them believe and continue with their lives.