|The Wind Will Carry Us
(Bad ma ra khahad bord)
|© 1999-2010 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
In the July-August 2000 issue of Film Comment , Iranian director Abbas
Kiarostami (through a translator) explained his theories about motion pictures,
how he deliberately does not fill in all the blanks, instead relying on each member
of the audience to bring his/her experiences and opinions to bear on the film. To
him, cinema is art and just as an abstract painter or sculptor leaves much to the
imagination, so should a filmmaker. Additionally, Kiarostami is attempting to
fashion what he refers to as "poetic cinema," a multi-layered approach that allows
for different interpretations on repeated viewings, all influenced by the audience
member's state of mind, mental conditions, etc.
Kiarostami's goals have their roots in his own training as a visual artist and
his lofty aspirations to reformulate motion pictures into a form that moves away
from just storytelling have won him legions of supporters outside of his homeland.
Indeed, after sharing the 1997 Palme d'Or at Cannes for Taste of Cherry, he was
elevated to from cult status to that of one of the greatest living directors. He has
become a critics' darling and therefore entered the pantheon and no matter what
he does he can almost be guaranteed rave reviews and exaltation.
The Wind Will Carry Us is the latest of his oeuvre to reach American
audiences and while Kiarostami is clearly in control, his desire to move into a more
abstract narrative style does tend to become somewhat repetitious. As with much
of his work, the visual style is breathtakingly gorgeous. The opening sequences
which feature long shots of a Landrover driving through the mountains of the
Iranian countryside to Kurdistan are sublime. In voice-overs, the audience hears a
team of men trying to navigate their way to a small village. (In keeping with his
film theories, Kiarostami only shows the leader of the group on screen, who is
identified as an "engineer" and is well played by Behzad Dourani.) A local boy
agrees to act as guide for the team, who have arrived for a reason that is never
completely made clear, although it has something to do with a ceremony that will
occur after the death of an elderly woman. The villagers are convinced that the
men are there to search for local artifacts, possibly even buried treasure.
Because so much of the dramatic material is sketchy and left for the audience
to deduce, one's reaction to the film will depend on how willing one is to go with
its flow. There is undeniable beauty in the way Kiarostami and his
cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari have captured the settings. The director
mines some humor from the juxtaposition of modern technology (represented by a
cell phone) and the more rustic manner in which the villagers live -- there is a
running joke about how the engineer has to drive to a cemetery on a hill in order
to receive phone calls which after the first few times begins to grow slightly stale.
While some of my colleagues have already dubbed this film a masterpiece, I
would be a little more circumspect. The film examines ways in which humans
examine the physical world and the metaphysical one. Just as the poem from
which the movie draws its title speaks of something that is at once tangible but at
the same time ineffable, so too does the movie. It is Kiarostami's amazing
achievement to present this to an audience. The Wind Will Carry Us has
moments where it soars yet it is not entirely successful. Still, its contrasts of
modern life with the more simple ways of the villagers, of movement and stasis --
ultimately of life and death -- are thought-provoking.
Running time: 118 mins.