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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kiarostami: Taste of Cherry (1997)

Ta'm e guilass, 1997
(Firouzan Films)
no copyright infringement intended

Ta'm e guilass (Taste of Cherry), made by Abbas Kiarostami in 1997.

It happened that I had already seen Ten, made by Kiarostami in 2002, and I was struck by the resemblance of approach in the two movies. As I was now watching Taste of Cherry, dialogues from Ten were coming to my mind. In both movies a driver is running the car through the streets of Tehran (or on shabby routes around Tehran) and approaches various people. The reactions of those people are similar in both movies. It is like the driver is the only character played by a professional, all others are just common people who seem totally unaware that they are filmed.

There is a subject here in Taste of Cherry (I would rather not deconspire it, to not frustrate you of the pleasure of discovery), only I believe the subject is more like a pretext, for studying the reactions of those common people.

I believe that Kiarostami is actually interested in the reaction of common people confronted with the convention of the movie. There is a subject, yes: it is a convention proposed by the creator of the movie, like any filmic subject. It is not the reality, it is a convention, that presents itself as reality. However, it is a convention, not reality. How are common people reacting to this convention? Are they considering it as normal, as belonging to their universe?

Or, can these common people become part of the artistic universe? They belong to our, real, world. The main character (the driver) provokes them. They can enter the illusory world of the movie; they can refuse the illusion.

Anyway, either they accept the convention, or they refuse, it is a moment of contact between two worlds: the real world, the illusory world of the movie (pretending to be the real world itself). What is the relation between the two worlds? What is the relation between object and image? A question that has tortured so many artists in the twentieth century, and I believe this is also the question that Kiarostami is trying to find the answer.

The ending of the movie can be read in various ways. I believe that the sense of it is, hey, guys, a movie is just a movie, it is convention claiming to be reality, but it remains convention.

I know, of course, that I could be wrong :) I also believe that Ten developed Taste of Cherry in a more radical way.

(I'm in the Mood for Kiarostami)

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