After the dissolution of the USSR, films of the post-Soviet republics began to diverge in terms of style, subject matter and genre preference. For example, Uzbek cinema tends to resemble Bollywood; Kazakh cinema aspires to European standards. Azerbaijani films, and especially Elchin Musaoglu's The 40th Door and Nabat, tends to remind us of Iranian cinema, characterized by artful cinematography, a laconic style and the prominent use of visual metaphors. It is common for post-production of Azerbaijani films to done in Iran.
It is therefore not surprising that Nabat is played by Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, a famous Iranian actress. Nabat is a strong female character whose patience, fortitude, and stamina help her survive. The only inhabitant left, Nabat sees that the lamps are not burning in her village as they did in the past. Thus she visits each house every evening to light kerosene lamps. Soldiers are left perplexed— the village is supposed to be evacuated.
When even Nabat's solitary cow runs away, she is left on the verge of an abyss, accompanied only by a wolf howling in the distance. Before Nabat's husband's death he advised her to dig a hole and cover it with branches, so that if a wolf tried to sneak into the yard she could ambush and kill it. She follows his instructions but forgets about the trap until a wolf arrives. Nabat, however, cannot kill the wolf. It is the only living creature in her vicinity. She instead places a board in the hole so that the wolf can escape.
At first glance, Nabat's interaction with the wolf suggests the perennial conflict between nature and civilization, wherein the former advances and the latter retreats. Yet the final scene features Nabat sees the wolf again, and asks: "Why aren't you leaving this place?" Both Nabat and the wolf stay, and wait. The main character herself becomes a metaphor for the motherland waiting for return of her sons.