Ali Asghar Vadayeh Kheiri had two distinct purposes when he shot “Ale Amout”: To highlight the beauties of the region in Qazvin, Iran, and to exemplify the benefits of staying close to nature rather than trying to shape it.
In that fashion, the documentary functions as a guided tour of the area, with the director emphasizing the natural beauties of the mountainous Alamut, and particularly the way the waters and their impact on the rocks of the area have shaped the environment.
Shooting the film on his own, with recordings that lasted for seven months, Kheiri really managed to capture the essence of the place, through a number of panoramic shots that highlight every single detail of the environment, including the fauna and the flora, in naturalistic, but very impressive fashion. The highlights of this trait are the presentation of Lake Ovan and the fortress on the mountain, while Kheiri also presents the environment through all the four seasons, with the snowy winter being the most impressive.
Accompanied by an almost constant narration, which, at times, I felt was a bit more “ceremonial” and serious than it had to be, the documentary also makes a number of philosophical comments, exemplifying the traditional methods of building and farming the land, while criticizing all methods that are based on technology. The history of the place, which revolves around the Ismailis, is also quoted, as is religion, although not much is mentioned about the most interesting part, the Hashshashins. This, however, is on par with the general aesthetics of the film, which focuses on nature.
The same applies to both the cities and the people of Alamut, who are mentioned for brief periods among the imagery of the environment, particularly regarding their customs.
“Ale Amout” has its faults, but since its purpose was to function as a guided tour and attract tourists in the area, it succeeds to the fullest, particularly through its visual elaborateness. Furthermore, at 58 minutes, it does not overextend itself, and ends up as a very interesting view.