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Monday, Feb 26, 2024

Kiarostami's Pastoral Story Envisions Simpler Life

Author: Allison Quady Arts Editor

The first film shown Saturday at 3 p.m. in Dana Auditorium was, "The Wind Will Carry Us," directed by Abbas Kiarostami. Kiarostami is Iran's most celebrated filmmaker and his slow patient style reveals itself in the brevity of camera, in the stillness of the scenes and in the simplicity of story.

Kiarostami's style is very different from the cinematic devices used in Western cinema to quickly advance the story and grab the audience at every turn. Coming out of the movie, one woman asked, "Does anyone know what that was about?" True, it moved slowly, but this seemed to be Kiarostami's largest message, that life is taken too quickly and in its speed loses all significance. The plot consisted of this: two engineers come to witness the sacred funeral rights of an invalid in a remote village and must unexpectedly wait for her expected death, which never comes. The film is so gentle it almost caresses the audience into slumber, but if one manages not to sleep, it is a rewarding experience of subtle natural truths. According to Dabashi, Kiarostami will sometimes fall asleep in movies and actually considers this the mark of thoughtful filmmaking.

The opening scene of "The Wind Will Carry Us" draws the spectator slowly into the world of the film with a grandiose picture of golden hills and one small car winding its way down into the valley. The miniscule car and the even smaller humans inside carry on their insignificant conversation, repeating phrases several times about losing their way, while we are outside of their metal box, gazing unobstructed at their surroundings.

Much of Kiarostami's film seems to be a slow recognition of nature in the modern world, a recognition made more by the audience than by the protagonist who is still talking on his cell phone and kicking over a turtle towards the end of the movie. The engineer befriends a young boy who tells him about village life. Other than this boy, the engineer is alone and idle, accompanied only by his friend who we never see. The village is portrayed through his eyes, an inconveniently beautiful mass of housing piled alongside a hillside.

The engineer must rush up and down stairs and ladders, hop in his Sport Utility Vehicle and ascend a mountain every time he gets a call on his cell phone, which rarely turns out to be very important. The significance of most things is diminished by repetition in the movie. The life of the engineer loses all meaning while he impatiently waits for a woman to die. Finally, someone does almost die while digging a ditch and the engineer rushes off to find help. By the time the engineer has returned a crew of men have saved the man from suffocation and they take him off to the hospital in the SUV. The engineer gets a ride with the doctor and the latter amiably describes his own insignificance, saying the people don't need him and he does little, but he contemplates nature and is happy. The doctor's noisy motorcycle is loud in the countryside, taking the two men to the house of the invalid at the request of the engineer. The conversation with the doctor slowly causes some change in the engineer, who takes charge of getting the prescribed painkillers for the invalid.

The title of the film, "The Wind Will Carry Us," carries greater meaning at the end of the film, after the repeated meditations on small creatures, whether boy, man or turtle, living in the magnificence of nature.