Naderi’s The Runner: A Cinema of Hope Amidst Despair

Author: K. Neethu Tilakan, Sree Kerala Varma College, India
Published: November 20, 2019

Citation: Neethu Tilakan, K. (2019). Naderi’s The Runner: A Cinema of Hope Amidst Despair. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 6(2).


This article aims to read the film The Runner, by the critically acclaimed Iranian Director Amir Naderi, in the context of the Iranian Revolution and of the Iran-Iraq War. Naderi was inspired by the aesthetics of Italian neorealist cinema, and this film is a classic example of that influence. The events are seen through the eyes of an orphan boy named Amiro. Consequently, this article seeks to explore the manner in which the director has thrown light on the devastation of war through the prism of an innocent street child. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, this poignant story of struggle, despair and longing has a strong underlying message of hope for a promising future. In light of this, the article aims to show how, in the dialectic between the external environment and the characters’ personal, subjective microcosm, the film’s emotive content seeks to neutralise the more paralysing aspects of an adverse environment through a strong focus on the protagonist’s perspective, allowing the viewers to moderate their objective assessment of the situation with a sympathetic viewpoint that disposes them to form an emotional bond with the characters. In short, it is our sympathy for Amiro that shapes our overall assessment of the events, and as we cheer the characters on, the story rewards our emotional investment by ending on a joyful note.

Keywords: Amir Naderi, The Runner, Iranian new wave, neo-realist cinema