A cinematic meditation and lyrical farewell from the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami that calmed my mind, reduced my heart rate and brought me to tears.
Kiarostami’s last film, he was fascinated with the before and after of paintings and photographs, their invisible cinematic memories. Beginning with Bruegel, he uses animation and sound to add small moments of life; a dog barks and wanders through, snow falls and smoke rises, cows march in single file in the distance.
Each subsequent frame is a photo, mostly black-and-white minimalist landscapes of snow, silhouetted trees, windows and birds. Each is 4 and a half minutes long and the still images pulse with gentle life and rhythmic sounds; waves endlessly surge and crash, rain falls and the ground gradually darkens, a bird darts and dances in the snow.
There are repeated motifs denoting Kiarostami’s love of minimalism – snow, trees, crows, windows, dogs, shadows and light. Watching each was akin to a meditation and I found myself thinking of composition and light and shadow, of nature and the small moments that play out unnoticed all around us. I wondered which moment represented the photo that Kiarostami had taken and envied his ability to orchestrate his images through minute changes. Most had a tiny story enclosed in the 270 seconds – a bird eluding a cat, a tree falling, a car arriving. Some of the animations were too apparent; understandable but distracting nonetheless.
The final frame was deeply moving and I couldn’t help but weep at the beauty and pathos of this last gift from a master storyteller.
Have you seen this film? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.