So I know I’m straying away from this month’s theme of Freedom a tad bit, but at the same time I feel this is my own, ‘cinematic’ take on the word, because honestly, I don’t want the world to forget Abbas Kiarostami. This is a man who created visual masterpieces, that I personally think do not fall under a set genre. Anyone who’s watched the late Kiarostami’s movies knows that they don’t fall under a “frame”. For the filmmaker, one of his concerns was that “…we are not able to look at what we have in front of us, unless it's inside a frame…” and evidently he tackled this idea of conformity in his pieces such as Shirin, his documentary on the Iranian education system, Homework, and his most internationally acclaimed movie, Taste of Cherry.
Abbas Kiarostami to me is one of the greatest artists of the modern world. He possessed the ability to present human nature, everyday dealings and the simplest of twitches in a completely different light. With the whole question of whether or not it is possible to create a new color, that’s what Kiarostami did with his work. He left his audience with a whole new outlook on life and even with a questioning on the simplicity of life.
An Iranian filmmaker who never forgot his roots. When asked about why he stayed in Iran after the 1979 Revolutions, he replied with:
When you take a tree that is rooted in the ground, and transfer it from one place to another, the tree will no longer bear fruit. And if it does, the fruit will not be as good as it was in its original place. This is a rule of nature. I think if I had left my country, I would be the same as the tree.
His attitude towards Iran is seen in his works once again, portraying Iranian culture through the simplest of mediums. As I am not Iranian, I can’t confirm nor deny whether or not his depictions are accurate or representative of the Persian state, but what he was given me is beauty and art and a world I’m dying to see. Kiarostami does not give you the good, the bad and the ugly, he gives you the abstract, the blurred and the unseen.
Did I cry when I found out Abbas Kiarostami passed away? I shed a tear or two because this year seems to be taking away great souls but although they’re gone, they’ve left legacies that I definitely will not forget.
Kiarostami in the Years….
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
In this film the Iranian filmmaker captures the female form, not in a physical state but in its emotional state. Starring over a 100 actresses, Kiarostami films their reactions and emotional attachment to the narration of the love story of Persian monarchs Khosrow and Shirin. Both the narration and the film itself center on “female self-sacrifice” which Kiarostami depicts perfectly with just simple close-ups of the female cast, and their varying emotions, ranging from awe to heartbreak to admiration.
I personally find this to be one of the most beautifully crafted films, mainly because you witness the beauty and rawness of human emotion. I sat in front of my laptop screen for a little over an hour and a half staring at the faces of over a hundred different Persian actresses, gorgeous actresses I should add, and all I could think of was how untainted and pure of human form Kiarostami gave me. This hit me even more when I remembered that they’re reactions were brought on my by the simple retelling of a classic Persian tale. Knowing that Shirin has become “the heroine of Persian literature” adds on to my admiration of Abbas Kiarostami as we see him bringing to life the Iranian culture.
Taste of Cherry (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
One of his most internationally acclaimed films, Taste of Cherry was awarded a Palme d’Or and rightfully so. The film follows the journey of Mr. Badii who drives around Tehran looking for people to do a job for him, and in return he’s willing to pay them a large amount of cash. Unbeknownst to them, the job in mind is to bury him after he commits suicide. I’ll stop at that because this movie is too brilliant to spoil.
Personally, I’d dub it a “coming of age” film, and I know it doesn’t fall under the whole Girlhood, Breakfast Club subgenre but more in the sense that it centers on self-exploration. You have the protagonist a man who wants to kill himself, and we’re given no explanation as to why he wants to take his life. So all we’re given is this character with no known background, just his current self, which at times, his character is very questionable. We witness him metamorphasize into someone different than who we started the film with, and what I love is how subtle but evident Kiarostami makes the change.
Homework is a documentary in which Kiarostami takes a look at children in the Iranian education system, how it impacts them and he also goes as far as taking a look at how it affects their home life. This documentary encompasses the idea that the education system strays away from educating children on the great Persian Shahs, and the drive of creation and individuality but rather on that of “obedience and submissiveness”. Although this is a documentary and doesn’t have a spicy plot for me to spoil, I’d rather not go into detail as I want you to have your take on this documentary. I really don’t think I can say much on this documentary, as firstly, I’m not Iranian so my input, although well-meaning, would be misplaced. Secondly, because it documents a part of Iranian society, there’s no magic or flare added to it, it just is, and that speaks volumes.