"The Wind Will Carry Us"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Fri Dec 8 11:30:04 MST 2000

Jonathan Rosenbaum on "The Wind Will Carry Us", directed by Abbas Kiarostami.

Part of this movie's vitality is that it feels as up-to-date as the
postelection fracas in Florida -- Behzad and his crew waiting for the old
woman to die recalls the spin doctors impatiently awaiting recounts and
judges' decisions while telling us what they presume we're thinking. (Speak
to any stranger about what's going on and you're likely to find yourself in
sympathetic accord, regardless of how each of you voted; but turn on the TV
and you'll see angry partisan squabbling and name-calling and endless
accounts of our alleged impatience.) The faulty technology of the city
slicker -- Behzad's recalcitrant mobile phone -- also calls to mind our
flawed balloting machinery. Both induce a frenetic, contorted, slapstick
dance in us as we try to overcome our helplessness in the face of the
machines that rule our lives.

By concentrating on the death of a century-old woman in the year 1999,
Kiarostami also seems to be making some sort of millennial statement --
something that possibly means less inside Iran, which has a different
calendar. By comically divvying up his world into media "experts" and
peasants -- moguls with cellular phones and ordinary working people -- he's
raising the issue of who owns this world and who deserves to.

Is there any more pressing and relevant global issue at the moment? This is
the film's major theme, though I hasten to add it isn't the only one. One
of the major themes of Taste of Cherry, Kiarostami's previous feature --
mortality in general and the process of being buried in particular --
returns here as a secondary theme, along with the equally relevant motif of
birth. (A human thighbone, found in Youssef's hole and carried around for a
spell by Behzad, functions as a highly suggestive prop.) Uniting all of
these themes is poetry -- lines from Rumi and The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
as well as Foroogh Farrokhzaad -- which sometimes appears to be the biggest
thing the characters have in common.

With the possible exception of a doctor on a motorbike -- who exudes warm
and familiar folk wisdom with a little more facility than I would have
liked and reminds me a bit too much of the Turkish taxidermist in Taste of
Cherry -- Kiarostami's reading of what separates the media savants from the
farming people generally avoids sentimentality and cant. One reason for
this that I've already suggested is that Behzad remains a troublingly
equivocal figure, a hero we can neither accept nor reject wholeheartedly.
The very fact that we're watching a film places us in some respects on his
side and against the villagers, whether we want to be there or not, so
Kiarostami works overtime attempting to rectify that balance and show us
things Behzad is unlikely to notice.

Perhaps the most impressive of these things is the village itself, with all
its intricate interweavings, ambiguities, and declivities -- it's an
architectural marvel both as a subject and a backdrop. The Wind Will Carry
Us offers an intricately constructed spatial world that's as breathtakingly
beautiful, as various, and as cosmically evocative as a Brueghel landscape
-- a world teeming with diverse kinds of life and activity -- and it teases
us whenever we want to get to know this world better, seducing and evading
us at the same time.

Full review at: http://www.chireader.com/movies/archives/2000/1200/001208.html

Louis Proyect
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