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The Wind Will Carry Us (1999)

  • Calgary Central Library - Lecture Hall 800 3 Street Southeast Calgary, AB, T2G 0E7 Canada (map)

The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) follows journalist Behzad (Behzad Dorani) and a camera crew who have been sent to a remote Kurdish village where they are to wait for the death of a one-hundred-year-old woman so that they can subsequently film a traditional funeral ceremony. Kiarostami began to seriously write and publish poetry later in life, and The Wind Will Carry Us is likely the film in which his Persian poetic sensibility is most foregrounded. At first, the film seems like an almost comic amplification of the tendency toward something close to self-criticism in many of the director’s films, presenting us with another bumbling and often fatuously paternalistic director surrogate, this time in the form of Behzad. If the film begins as a comedy in which Behzad, anxiously killing time, sententiously lectures locals, lies about his profession, preens, and routinely attempts to find locations of sufficient elevation for cellular reception, in its final sections it ascends to a new level of shimmering poetic transport in a scene featuring a young woman milking a cow in a cellar during which the bracingly sensual Forugh Farrokhzad poem from which the film borrows its title is recited. The Wind Will Carry Us ends by reminding us that at the core of Kiarostami’s universe is the idea that life is a zigzag path framed by the ineffable.

Farrokhzad was a poet and filmmaker who died in 1967 at the age of thirty-two. Many  have called her 1962 film The House is Black a central work in modern Iranian cinema, the critic Jonathan Rosenbaum at one point having called it the greatest Iranian film of all time, noting also that it is a work in which “actuality and fiction […] register as coterminous rather than dialectical,” as such presaging the later works of Abbas Kiarostami quite distinctly. Iranian film scholar Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa has said of Persian poetry and the cinema it informs that “the mysteries of the system and the universe are understood and conveyed only through metaphor.” Like its poetry, Persia’s cinema is “compressed, sparse, and metaphoric.”

-Written by Jason Wierzba