Wind Will Carry Us, The

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Another subtle, deceptively simple and richly rewarding work of genius from Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, this 1999 Venice Film Festival prize-winner opens (not, one suspects, without a touch of irony) on a long shot of a car negotiating a dusty, serpentine mountain road, with driver and passenger arguing about where they are and whether or not they’ll make it up a hill. Those who’ve seen the director’s earlier films, especially And Life Goes On, may ask whether Kiarostami is simply repeating himself, but true fans will know there’s always more to his work than first meets the eye.

Sure enough, once the car reaches the remote Kurdistan village of Siaf Dareh, the ambiguities and mysteries proliferate and interweave. Are the men treasure-hunters (as they tell a boy who welcomes them), telecommunications engineers (as the villagers assume) or something more sinister? Why is Bahzad, their apparent leader, so curious about the boy’s dying grandma? And why, when Tehran calls on his mobile and he needs to move to higher ground, does he always drive to the cemetery, where an invisible man sings from a hole in the ground?

This wholly engrossing and sublimely beautiful film succeeds on many levels. As witty, almost absurdist comedy, it offers lovely visual and verbal gags. As an ethnographic/ philosophical study of the relationships between ancient and modern, rural and urban, life and death, it’s intriguing and illuminating. As a sly, self-reflexive portrait of the artist, it’s tough, astute and critical. And as a hymn to human pragmatism, and to the inspirational beauty of the natural world, its poetry touches the heart. What more can one ask for?

Iran/France, 1999.
English subtitles.
Dolby stereo SR.
118 min.

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