Enchanting birds with lively characteristics, Persian calligraphic art, sweeping angles and entrenched symbolism will engross you in this animation.
But not to be mistaken for light entertainment, the chorographical piece Simorgh is Iranian-born Meghdad Asadi Lari’s personal interpretation of a traditional Sufi poem.
The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar is a lengthy and celebrated poem written in Persian exploring the fragility of self worth. It follows the symbolic journey of different birds under the guidance of the wises bird hoopoe, in search of a king, who end up discovering their strength within.
Each bird represents a human fault, such as ego, greed, beauty and power. The birds must cross seven valleys to reach the dwelling place of the legendary Simorgh bird, whom they hope will be their leader. Each valley represents the stations that an individual must pass through to realise the true nature of God, according to Sufi, such as yearning, love and detachment.
One by one however, each of the birds drop out of the journey offering an excuse.
At the end of the journey only 30 birds are left, who reach the dwelling place of the legendary Simorgh. However, all they find there is each other through their reflection in a lake. As the birds realise the strength within their own community, they have reached the last station: Subsistence – or the action of supporting oneself.
Meghdad’s animated adaptation includes the peacock, which symbolises the fallen soul in alliance with Satan, the nightingale symbolising the lover, and the parrot seeking the fountain of immortality, not God.
Meghdad’s chorographical piece – and graduate school thesis film – incorporates calligraphic art and ornamental design to tell the traditional Persian story, to the backdrop of Persian music composed by Saba Alizadeh. Each bird has been formed using the shape of Persian letters.
As the animated story is based on literature, Meghdad dedicated all the visuals – the birds and their environment – to Iranian culture, art and history.
Built upon Islamic belief and practice by Muslims, Simorgh provokes thought beyond the material world and explores a yearning to seek the truth of divine love.
It’s been widely recognised at international level, winning several international film and animation awards and playing at 60 film festivals including the Iranian Film Festival in San Francisco, Plum Tuckered Film Festival and the International Gold Panda Awards for Students.
Meghad originally studied electrical engineering before finding a passion for graphic design and animation. He now continues to work as lead animator for Northlight Productions in New York and as a visiting assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.
An eBook version of the poem can be purchased for US$7.99 at the Apple store. As well as offering an audio visual version in both English and Farsi, the book also explains the creative process behind each bird in the animation.
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