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Abbas Kiarostami Edit Profile

filmmaker

Abbas Kiarostami was an Iranian film director, screenwriter and producer.

Background

Kiarostami, Abbas was born on June 22, 1940 in Teheran, Iran.

Career

Very large things have been said on behalf of Abbas Kiarostami. Laura Mulvey has likened the breakthrough of Taste of Cherny winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1997 to the appearance of Rashomon at Venice in 1951. Quite early on, Godfrey Cheshire saw the masterly humanism of Kiarostami and called it “a cinema of questioning." Phillip Lopate has said that “we are living in the Age of Kiarostami, as once we did in the Age of Godard.”

Well, there are creative stirrings in Iran that deserve the most sensitive reception, if only to break out of the straitjacket in which so many Westerners are taught to think of Iran and all its neighbors. At the same time, we may note that Taste of Chernj played at Cannes (not without doubts, for it deals with suicide) before it played in Iran. And when Kiarostami accepted a congratulatory but formal kiss from Catherine Deneuve, along with the Palme d Or, there w ere serious repercussions in Iran.

Consider Taste of Cherry, which is generally rated among his best, if not the best, bv Kiarostami's adherents. It is about a man who drives around the hilly, twisty roads on the outskirts of Teheran, searching lor someone who will assist in his suicide. Much of the film is shot as from the man’s Land Rover, with the sound of its engine. There is no music, for Kiarostami is as suspicious of that as he is of conventional storytelling. The film has the feel of Italian neo-realism: the sound and the picture are a little rough; the acting is nonprofessional; and we never discover why the man wants to kill himself—that may be too much "narrative," though equally it may impose on the actor a slightly doomy portentousness that I find monotonous. But maybe Kiarostami intends that; maybe he wants us to feel the mundane level ol being tirged to kill yourself.

Works

  • painting

    • Rain

    • From Five

    • Rain

    • Snow White

    • Snow White

    • Source Figure1 (Installation)

    • Installation of Seven Sycamore

    • From Five

    • Snow White

    • Snow White

    • Snow White

    • Snow White

    • Rain

    • Trees and Crows

    • Roads and Trees

    • Snow White

    • Snow White

    • The wall #1

    • Roads and Trees

    • Trees and Crows

    • The wall #4

    • From Five

    • The wall #5

    • Snow White

    • The road #1

    • The wall #7

    • Snow White

    • Roads and Trees

    • Close Up

    • Snow White

    • From Five

    • The road #2

    • Trees and Crows

    • The wall #38

    • The wall #3

    • The wall #19

    • Trees and Crows

    • The wall #2

    • The wall #42

    • Snow White

    • From Five

    • Snow White

    • Snow White

    • Snow White

Personality

The neo-realist look, howrever, is subtly undercut by a much more formal eye for beautv—especially in the long-distance twists and vanishings of the dirt road. In those passages, you feel Kiarostami's shaping eye and you can believe that he was first trained as a painter and graphic artist, and that he still takes verv beautiful (if arty) photographs of landscape.

The man picks up several passengers, and they decline his request for help. There is a developing suspense—what will happen? Do we care? And gradually the arguments against death begin to resemble a testament to life. This is culminated in the last passenger, an older man, who will help but who speaks movingly of the small epiphanies in life, like the taste of mulberrv. But a pact is made, the old man will help.

We then see our central character going out to his appointed grave, at night. There is thunder about, he composes himself. Fade to video footage, which quite quickly reveals the man as his actor, with a film crew (Kiarostami included) looking on. Soldiers in the distance, who were marching to make up a shot, are told to relax. There is the sound of jazz.

The ending is exhilarating and wondrous. We feel that life has won just as the bare “story” to which we have been exposed is revealed as a game, a routine. Modernism, the intellectual surprise, the sense of some need to step back from and admit the archaic qualitv of self-contained stories in such an age of film.

But humbly, Godard and many others did it, in another age, with more humor, intellect, beauty, and terror. Abbas Kiarostami is a fascinating figure, lie represents a country that may be regaining its imagination. We need to attend. But if this is modern movie mastery, then our medium is gone and this is funerary art.