• Director/Writer: Abbas Kiarostami
  • Principle Actors: Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, and Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari

“I believe in a cinema, which gives more possibilities, and more time to its viewer…a half-fabricated cinema, an unfinished cinema that is completed by the creative spirit of the viewer, [so that] all of a sudden we have a hundred films.”

Kiarostami, in response to a question about the look (i.e. video) of the epilogue in Taste of Cherry

Kiarostami – isms

  • Never uses a script
  • Rarely uses professional actors (none appeared in Taste of Cherry)
  • Kiarostami usually works alone with the actor to generate dialogue

Influences

  • It is said he rarely thinks in terms of film references
  • When pressed he says Saless, Kimiavi, & Dariush Mehrjuri have had greater influence than Dreyer or Bresson
  • Though, in a recent interview he states he has been studying Bresson for his use of sound
  • Kiarostami discovered Bresson in the mid 1970’s
    • Bresson’s sparse and intense yet quiet language and his world of imprisoned characters made a powerful impression upon him
    • Kiarostami noted Bresson’s profound awareness and sympathy for women as victims of male possessiveness and violence
    • He also feels Bresson’s films are about souls in hiding – keeping your humanity in private

Narrative Structure

  • Mr. Badhi contemplates suicide
    • We don’t know why
    • We never learn if he succeeds
    • We know very little about Badhi (i.e. little or no back story)
      • Therefore, reducing our empathy with Badhi
  • Some argue that Kiarostami has nothing to say
  • Others argue that Kiarostami is inviting us to share in the collective voice of the narrative
  • If we don’t want to think about our own deaths, what does this say about our lives?
  • Over the course of an afternoon, Badhi picks up three passengers to assist him in his task
    • A young Kurdish soldier
    • An Afghan seminarian
    • A Turkish taxidermist
  • Prior to the epilogue, the action is limited to a single day & evening – but the span of the film represents the expanse of an entire life
    • His three passengers represent three successive stages in that life

The Epilogue

  • Shot on Video
  • Tree are now in full bloom
  • Wind blowing through the trees, soldiers & filmmakers lounging on the hillside
  • With Louis Armstrong’s “St. James Infirmary” playing
  • Reasons?
    • Kiarostami might be saying, “It’s only a movie”
    • This scene invites us into the “laboratory” from which the film sprang
    • Puts us on equal footing with the filmmaker
    • The soldiers recall Badhi’s happiest moments in life
    • The tree in full bloom remind us of the Turkish taxidermists epiphany
      • Do you want to give up the taste of cherries?
    • Though the soldiers also remind us what has made refugees of both the Afghani and the Turk

Narrative & Camera

  • Conversations between two characters are filmed and edited in an angle/reverse angle pattern (rather than both actors appearing in the same frame & especially in moving vehicles)
  • This means that Kiarostami himself is filming each of the actors in separate shooting sessions
  • Then he edits or removes his own lines
  • None of these actors met while the film was being shot (with one small exception)
  • Kiarostami occupied the passenger seat while “Badhi” drove and occupied the driver’s seat while each of the other actors were passengers
  • Thus Kiarostami played all these people off-screen, soliciting on-screen dialogue and reactions from each actor
  • Visually, this technique creates a sense of isolation and solitude that is felt throughout the film
  • Additionally, the film is set in exteriors – inflicting our sense of solitude with an equally strong sense of being in the world