XL Popcorn – The House Is Black

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 447/1007Title: Khaneh siah ast (The House Is Black)
Director: Forough Farrokhzad
Year: 1962
Country: Iran

Right off the bat – it was really hard to find an image for this film that was not grotesque. The reason being? The House Is Black is an Iranian short film about a leper colony.

At only 22 minutes long this is a hugely impactful movie. As a documentary it combines scenes of the incredible scarring and disfigurement that leprosy brings with their treatment and voiceovers of either a poetic or religious nature. Contrasting the voices of people phrasing Allah with leprosy suffers who are having growths cut off of their feet with nail scissors is heavy-handed and rightly so.

Consider this. The House is Black was made 50 years ago. Back then, this was a curable disease. And yet, I remember being a child and watching a Blue Peter appeal that was asking for people to raise money through ‘Bring and Buy Sales’ in order to treat leprosy. Something that could be cured with £21 worth of medication. This is one of those strange things that stayed with me, that for £21 I could buy 7 CD singles from Virgin Megastore or I could cure someone’s leprosy. Nice work Blue Peter.

The point is, if this was curable back in 1962 and was known to be curable back then… what the hell were we doing for 35 years in not eradicating this? I mean we are getting there now (despite the face that whilst the UK has not had a case since 1901 there are still new diagnoses of this in the USA!), but until that point films like The House Is Black remains relevant. Although maybe, just maybe, this film will remain relevant whilst there is still a gap in disease prevention between richer and poorer nations. Hopefully, therefore, this film will not be relevant forever.

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