Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Wind Will Carry Us

The Wind Will Carry Us by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami is a unique movie where landscape plays a starring role, from the unique Kurdish mountain village, to the stunning fields of gold. Trees are referred as landmarks for directions in such a barren landscape. Inside this terraced village, you always have people above or below you, overseeing and overhearing the lives of your neighbors. Roofs are part of the living surface. Your horizon is vertical. There is not a single portrait of the interior of the houses in the entire movie. The only interior scene shows a dark cave barn where a girl gets milk for the engineer. Judging from the outside, we can guess the inside would not be comfortable.

The plot is minimal: A film crew visits a tiny village to document the local mourning ceremony of an anticipated death of an old woman. However the women remains alive for a while which turns the crew into wanderers. There is a mysterious dimension in the narrative, for the viewer is never given full knowledge: the real identity of the crew is kept in secret almost throughout the film; the main character is called by villagers “engineer” which is also misleading; the acousmatic voices of the engineer’s colleagues and several villagers the engineer encounters. The viewer has to fill the gaps with his imagination.

The engineer’s cell phone is the only connection between the remote village and the outside world. Everytime he has to drive out of the village to a cemetery on a highland to get signal. Following this repeated path with his unexpected interactions of local residents, we get to learn the daily routine of village life. During the waiting period, the story is diverted into questions on a series of relationships: between life and death, between old and new, between insider and outsider, through many idling moments. As the title The Wind Will Carry Us suggests, the film has a drifting and mesmerizing beauty in it.

There are noticeable recurring themes in Abbas's films such as driving scene, barren landscape, reflections upon life and death, esp. in A Taste of Cherry. A Taste of Cherry has a simple and obvious structure and concept, but lacks the richness The Wind Will Carry Us offers us. Another great Iranian life/death themed movie is Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine by Bahman Farmanara.