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Sunday, June 02, 2013

Taste of Cherry (1997) d. Abbas Kairostami

Taste of Cherry: Iranian landscape

Movie Review
Taste of Cherry (1997)
 d. Abbas Kiarostami
Criterion Collection #45

  Iran is a cultural blind-spot in the west. Even well educated American typically only know this history of Iran post Iranian Revolution.  Few know that the Farsi language is part of the Indo-European linguistic family (alongside English, Spanish, French, German, etc.) or that the first Monotheistic religion (Zoroastrianism) was the state religion of Persia when the ancient Hebrews were exiled there.  Iran is typically defined today by its religion: Shia Islam and almost never by ethnicity/language.

Mr. Badii played by Homayoun Ershadi

  Taste of Cherry actually won the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 1997 and the Criterion Collection edition followed shortly in 1999. Obviously, a film coming out of Iran in 1997 is going to have distribution issues, so it makes sense that this movie would basically go straight from theaters to Criterion Collection with no intermediaries.

 The story sounds like a parody of depressing indie films: Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the hilly outskirts of Tehran—searching for someone to rescue or bury him.

This is director Abbas Kiarostami shooting Taste of Cherry.

  That's it- that is the whole story.  Specifically he interacts with four people, a solider, a gatekeeper, a seminarian and a taxidermist, and tries to convince each of them to help him commit suicide by covering him with dirt after he dies.

 Although Taste of Cherry is only 90 minutes long it is a lengthy 90 minutes.  I think I stopped it a half dozen times to get up and do something.   Many of the shots are long static head shots of Mr. Badii driving, because the director was in the passenger seat shooting the film.  The lengthy conversations are interspersed with breathtaking images of Iran- I'm just assuming this movie was shot near Tehran- perhaps in an industrial suburb- rather then Tehran proper.

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