Born on 8th December 1939 in Tehran, he was deeply involved in music and painting, playing piano and santoor and drawing miniatures. In 1959, he left Iran for California to study cinema. But at those days, UCLA’s cinema department was more interested in the technical aspects of filmmaking than its meaning as a form of art. He attended a number of film courses, namely with Renoir who taught him how to work with actors and he switched to Philosophy and was graduated from UCLA.
Upon graduating in 1964, he started a literary magazine, the Pars Review, with other Iranians who wanted to make the contemporary Iranian literature known to the West. He wrote his first script, a love story based on an ancient Persian tale and he went back to Iran with intention of turning it into a movie. However, the project collapsed and instead he made a thriller, Diamond 33, a parody of James Bond movies. The film was technically acceptable but commercially it failed.
His second feature, The Cow (Gaw) brought him national and international recognition and it is one of two films that signalled the emergence of Iranian New Cinema. The Cow was among the very first projects to receive the State funding, however, it was banned by the Shah’s censors for the dark images of Iranian rural society. The film was smuggled to 1971 Venice Film Festival and unprogrammed and unsubtitled, it turned out to be the event of festival that year. The Cow received the Critics’ Award in Venice and toured the world festivals. The Cow which is now considered as a cult film has been selected as the Best Film of Iranian Cinema in 3 different polling by Iranian critics.
Mehrjui’s third feature, Mr. Naïve (Agha-e Haloo) was a kind a reaction to his unscreened The Cow and it was a box-office hit. His next film, The Postman (Postchi) was a political metaphor based on Karl Buchner’s Woyzeck.
The Cycle (Dayereh Mina) was kept in the shelves for 4 years and then it turned to be one of Mehrjui s most successful films abroad. Mehrjui was involved in the revolution and shot miles of reels of its daily events. He settled in France for a couple of years and he could just make a docu-fiction on life of the great French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. In return, he made The Lodgers (Ejareh Neshinha), which is still considered as the best comedy of Iranian cinema. Mehrjui’s most popular film among the Iranians is Hamoon which was the most controversial film of 1990 and it marked Mehrjui’s shift from social issues to a more personal cinema.
From 1992, Mehrjui started his female-character films; 4 films in 6 years all dealing with the woman characters and -heir obsessions in the urban societies. Banoo was banned for 7 years and Sara was Mehrjui’s international hit with a couple of awards. His two title -characters films, Pari and Leila were very well received at home and his latest picture, The Pear Tree is an example of Mehrjui’s craftsmanship in directing.
Mehrjui- for the Iranian critics- is a representative of a generation of filmmakers who developed the Iranian cinema. Dariush Mehrjui’s films have already received 49 national and international awards.