The Persian language is one of the dominant languages in the Middle East and Central Asia, and luckily there are plenty of excellent Persian cinemas too. So, why not combine your love of the film with studying Farsi? Explore 15 fabulous Iranian movies to learn Persian.
Persian, also known as ‘Farsi’ in Iran, ‘Dari’ in Afghanistan, and ‘Tajik’ in Tajikistan is one of the 25 most spoken languages in the world. Whatever may be your reasons to learn Persian, it is undoubtedly a beautiful tongue.
And what is a better method than enjoying films in the original language as intended? If you’re learning the Persian language, the chances are that you might already know a rich array of astonishing movies from Iran.
- Why Studying Persian Through Iranian Films Is Great?
- 15 Enjoyable & Must-Watch Movies to Learn Persian
- 1. A Separation (2011)
- 2. Children of Heaven (1997)
- 3. The Lizard (2004)
- 4. The Color of Paradise (1999)
- 5. Hamoun (1990)
- 6. About Elly (2015)
- 7. The Cow (1969)
- 8. Where is the Friend’s Home? (1987)
- 9. Fireworks Wednesday (2006)
- 10. The Runner (1984)
- 11. Taste of Cherry (1997)
- 12. Turtles Can Fly (2004)
- 13. The Past (2013)
- 14. Close-Up (1990)
- 15. The Song of Sparrows (2008)
Why Studying Persian Through Iranian Films Is Great?
You can use movies to gain exposure to the Persian language and Iranian culture and tradition. It encourages you an entertaining way to learn a new language. Moreover, if you’re watching the film in its original Persian language with subtitles, then it’s a more immersive experience.
Persian isn’t an easy language to learn. And by watching Iranian films, even with subtitles will tremendously enhance your speaking and listening abilities. It also provides a set of phrases and expressions for natural conversations.
While viewing movies is one of the best language learning techniques. Films alone, however, is not enough to gain any language. You need some other vital components, such as Persian courses, books, audios lessons, to name a few. Take the movies as a supplement to enhance your Persian language skills.
15 Enjoyable & Must-Watch Movies to Learn Persian
You can watch Iranian movies to learn Persian on Netflix, Amazon Prime, IMVBox, and on many online streaming channels. Some videos are also available on YouTube, YT premium, and other online video websites.
Here at LanguageNext, I did some research and made a list of 15 most popular Iranian movies to help you learn and improve your Persian, for all ages, genres, and levels! Let’s explore!
1. A Separation (2011)
When I saw A Separation, I was so appalled over how good an Iranian movie could be. Set in present-day Iran, A Separation is a fascinating melodrama about the troubled marriage. This is my all-time favorite Iranian flick.
Directed and written by Asghar Farhadi, the flick narrates a complex story of an unhappily married middle-class couple with an eleven-year daughter, Termeh. While both love each other, but Simin (the wife) wants to move abroad for a better life for her daughter.
The husband (Nader), however, wants to remain in Iran to take care of his sick father. It eventually led to a demand for divorce by Simin and followed by a chain of events and intense court-drama that makes the film a gripping, unusual, and full of emotions.
The film shows the essence of being human and doesn’t take any side. If you’re after the best Persian movies, a separation could be a top choice. It won over 100 nominations and awards, including the best foreign-language film for the Golden Globes and Oscars. The dialogues are useful to improve pronunciation.
2. Children of Heaven (1997)
If you’re looking for an intriguing Persian family drama, Director, Majid Majidi has a masterpiece for you: Children of heaven!
The 1997 Persian movie presents an adorable tale of two siblings Ali and Zahra, who are living a miserable and stressful life. When Ali loses his sister’s pair of shoes, he goes to find them. When he failed, he tries a new heartwarming trick to get a new pair of shoes.
The acting of Ali and Zohra are splendid, and the storyline is a very touching one. If you’re searching for “real cinema” to help you improve Persian, this is a film to keep on your favorite list. The conversational context is encouraging for a beginner.
3. The Lizard (2004)
Marmoulak (The Lizard) is a political, social, and religious satire, funny yet very thoughtful. The film revolves around the main character, a thief who escapes the prison but has to disguise as a Mullah’s role longer than he initially thought. The movie tries to differentiate between true believers and the ones that use religion negatively to control the masses.
While non-Iranians may not quite understand the subtlety of it, the movie is undoubtedly is a must-watch. The feature film includes a lot of political jargon. If you’re an intermediate Farsi learner, this is the film to see. The movie uses contemporary standard Persian, and colloquial expressions make it an excellent choice for elementary and other levels of learners.
4. The Color of Paradise (1999)
It is another Iranian movie directed by Majid Majidi. It is a heartwarming drama about an eight-year-old boy who is blind and lives in a secluded village with his widowed father, two sisters, and grandmother.
The boy, Mohammad, is loved by his grandfather and his two sisters. His poor father, Hashem, with a young family to support, wanted to marry into a wealthy family. Having a blind boy to help is a further burden that causes him to curse his bad fortune.
He believes his disabled son will impede his possibilities. The director achieves beauty through simplicity. This film is not just about a blind boy, but more about his sighted father, who is blind to see his beautiful family.
5. Hamoun (1990)
Through flashbacks, imagination, and dreams, Hamoun narrates a psychological story of a male mid-life crisis in Iran.
Hamoon, the main character in the film, suffers a shock when his wife wants a divorce. Besides, he also can not complete his Ph.D. thesis. Once, he fails to understand the reason his wife wants to divorce him. It forces him to contemplate what went wrong in his life. It is one of the must-watch movies for Persian learners.
6. About Elly (2015)
Farhadi is a real genius filmmaker in storytelling. About Elly is an enthralling and tense mystery movie about a young woman who disappears during a festive weekend outing at a coastal retreat.
Three married couples with their children went to a coastal resort to spend a festive weekend. They also bought Ahmad (the brother of one wife), and Elly, a schoolteacher. Sepideh, another wife bought Elly, hoping she and Ahmad may link up. The film took a U-turn when, in an attempt to save one child from drowning, Elly disappears.
Was she drowned? Or there’s more to this than meets the eye? In this nail-biting thriller, you’ll stay fascinated until the end. The acting and story, everything is of the highest order. The director, Farhadi, won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival for the film.
7. The Cow (1969)
It is a simple story about a poor villager, Mash Hassan, who owns the only cow of that village. The cow is his sole source of happiness and livelihood. Since Hassan has no children, he takes the role of the soon-be-become father of his pregnant cow.
When he went to the city for some work, the cow suddenly dies. Now, the villagers are frightened of his reaction to it when he comes back. Will the news will push him over the edge and make him insane? Or the wound will heal over a passage of time? The director, Dariush Mehrjui, portrays a simple yet moving story about people’s lives and their relationship with nature. The cow is a gem of the Iranian cinema.
8. Where is the Friend’s Home? (1987)
It is a story about an eight-year-old buy in an Iranian village. After mistakingly taking the classmate’s notebook, the boy searches for the home of his classmate, worrying that the school may expel him from school.
The film, Where is the Friend’s Home (Khane-ye Doust Kodjast), looks into the simplistic and innocent world of childhood. With a simple plotline, the renowned filmmaker, Kiarostami, has given us one of the best films ever made in Iran. It is a good film for language enthusiasts.
9. Fireworks Wednesday (2006)
The director of About Elly and A Separation has made another superb film about the unhappiness of marriage. The Fireworks Wednesday is gripping, suspenseful, emotional, moving, and dramatic.
A prosperous family in Tehran hires bride-to-be Rouhi (Taraneh Alidoosti) as a maid. Once she started working, she found the domestic conflict. The wife, Mojdeh, was certain about her husband having an affair with a woman from her neighborhood.
She has convinced Rouhi to be a spy and find the confirmation. At last, what Rouhi discovers jeopardizes not only the couple’s marriage but her own future. Fireworks Wednesday is one of the best movies to learn Persian, especially for the student of advanced level.
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10. The Runner (1984)
The Runner, directed by the distinguished director, Amir Naderi, was probably the first of the post-revolution Iranian films to attract global attention. The movie is all about desire, destination, and dream.
It is a tale about a poor boy Amiro who lost his home during the war. As an illiterate and abandoned boy, he has to do petty work to live another day. One day he realizes that the only way to be successful is to study in school. And thus, he joins a school, but he always had problems with other classmates.
Finally, there is a competition to see who can say the entire alphabet in one breath. It is a fascinating story about an orphan who proved his worth through intelligence, determination, and hard work. You would like a simple vocabulary and easy-to-understand dialogues.
11. Taste of Cherry (1997)
Beautifully written, brilliantly acted, and sensitively directed, Taste of Cherry is an emotionally complicated movie on life and death. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1997.
It is a simple and beautiful film about a depressed middle-aged man, Badii, who intent on killing himself. He drives through the Iranian villages and deserts, searching for someone who can bury him after he commits suicide.
Whether he will see the beauty of life or his decision is irreversible? You will witness 95 minutes of intense and invigorating discourse in Taste of Cherry. It is one of the best Iranian movies of the 90s.
12. Turtles Can Fly (2004)
It is a haunting film in the war zone by the Iranian writer and director, Bahman Ghobadi. The film is a depressing story of injured children, a devastating reminder of the costs of war.
It’s set in a Kurdish part of Iraq near the Turkish border, in early 2003, as the villagers await news of an American invasion. The war caused hundreds of children as orphans and homeless who have turned into a state of chaos and violence.
A refugee 13-year-old Kak (Satellite) struggles, gauge, and await his fate. Turtles Can Fly is one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made. The accent in the film is friendly for a novice to grasp.
13. The Past (2013)
Asghar Farhadi is my favorite Iranian director. And why not? He has made some of the best Iranian movies through incredible stories. His filmmaking skills is unmatched. If you want to enjoy an outstanding Farsi flick, look nowhere else!
After living four years separately, Ahmad arrives in Paris to complete the divorce procedure. During his short stay, he found the uneasy relationship between Marie and her daughter Lucie.
While the scenes give a skein of emotion connecting them, but now Marie wants to move on by marrying another man, Samir. And the new guy himself involved in an unresolved traumatic relationship with his ex-wife. The second half is full of mystery, and a thought-provoking message about the past in the present — A must-watch movie to learn Persian.
14. Close-Up (1990)
Close-up is a true story of a real-life person arrested for impersonating famous Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The movie follows the trial of Hossein Sabzian, charged with fraud.
This movie is not like other Kiarostami films. It is more like a documentary and biography. It is a unique motion picture that narrates the story through layers of flashback and shifting points of view. You might feel that this appears to be a simple story, but in reality, “Close Up” is more complicated than one can imagine. This is one of the most popular Movies for Persian language learners.
15. The Song of Sparrows (2008)
The 96-minute dramatic talkie is a showcase for Majidi’s masterful storytelling and Naji’s superb acting.
Karim, a simple family man, used to work at an ostrich farm and could make a decent living until one day when one ostrich ran away. After losing his job, he started collecting useless rubbish and neglected his wife and daughter. One thing leads to another. When his daughter loses her hearing aid right before crucial school exams, he moved to Tehran on his motorbike to look for work.
He finally became a taxi driver, which resulted in collecting more junks, instead of money. In the end, when Karim broke his foot, the kindness of neighbors makes him understand that his priorities have taken a turn for the worse. The critically acclaimed film will help you gain plenty of easy vocabulary and sentences.