According to Nasrin Rahimieh, professor of comparative literature at the University of California, [Irvine] Forough Farrokhzad told Bernardo Bertolucci that “she saw the leper colony as an example or a model of a world imprisoned by its illnesses, difficulties, and poverty”. Rahimieh suggests that “life in the leper colony is a metaphor for life in general”. Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia University, and Roxanne Varzi, a professor of anthropology and film at the University of California, suggest, respectively, that the film reflects the “brutalised history” of Iran, and serves as a metaphor for “the Shah’s oppressive social policies and a critique of the practice of religion at the time”.

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