Taste of Cherry
The Criterion Collection
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After reaching middle age, Mr.Badii is ready to call it quits and sets out to find an "assistant" with a shovel who will help him commit suicide. After a variety of refusals, he finally meets an old Turkish taxidermist who agrees to help him.
Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami won the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for this contemplative film about a Muslim, Mr. Badi (Homayon Ershadi), who drives around the barren hills outside Tehran, flagging down passersby and offering good money for a simple job that he's hesitant to explain. He's planning his suicide and seeks someone to perform something of a symbolic eulogy. Most of his subjects refuse (personal morality aside, suicide is forbidden to Muslims), but he finds an elderly taxidermist (Abdolrahman Bagheri) who agrees only because he needs the money for an ill child. Yet the old man gently pleads with him to choose life, to embrace the joys of earthly existence, to remember the taste of cherries. Though initially greeted with critical acclaim, A Taste of Cherry received poor distribution in the U.S. The meandering, deliberately paced drama is composed of long conversations and long silences, and the camera is locked in the car for entire sequences, staring at the protagonists in still closeups with the dusty landscape rolling past the windows of the Land Rover in the background. Kiarostami's film is not for everyone, but if you can embrace the quiet power and grace of his deceptively simple style, the film becomes a remarkably rich celebration of human dignity and resilience. By the astonishing conclusion we can see past Badi's age-etched face to the soul peering out from behind his sad eyes. --Sean Axmaker
- Rare interview with Abbas Kiarostami
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There is a subject here in Taste of Cherry (I would rather not deconspire it, to not frustrate you of the pleasure of discovery), only I believe the subject is more like a pretext, for studying the reactions of those common people.
I believe that Kiarostami is actually interested in the reaction of common people confronted with the convention of the movie. There is a subject, yes: it is a convention proposed by the creator of the movie, like any filmic subject. It is not the reality, it is a convention, that presents itself as reality. However, it is a convention, not reality. How are common people reacting to this convention? Are they considering it as normal, as belonging to their universe?
Or, can these common people become part of the artistic universe? They belong to our, real, world. The main character (the driver) provokes them. They can enter the illusory world of the movie; they can refuse the illusion.
Anyway, either they accept the convention, or they refuse, it is a moment of contact between two worlds: the real world, the illusory world of the movie (pretending to be the real world itself). What is the relation between the two worlds? What is the relation between object and image? A question that has tortured so many artists in the twentieth century, and I believe this is also the question that Kiarostami is trying to find the answer.
The ending of the movie can be read in various ways. I believe that the sense of it is, hey, guys, a movie is just a movie, it is convention claiming to be reality, but it remains convention.
I know, of course, that I could be wrong :) I also believe that Ten developed Taste of Cherry in a more radical way.
Dont look for western type of action dont even look for a story everything you see is symbolic.Just concetrate on what you see and believe me if you never experienced before the taste of cherry you will now and you will never forget it.