Driving into the Void: Kiarostami’s “Taste of Cherry”

Hamish Ford

Abstract


This article explores Abbas Kiarostami’s 1996 film Ta'm e guilass/Taste of Cherry and the critical responses it has received as arguably the most problematic of the director’s films for dominant Western, particularly Anglophone, accounts of his cinema. It starts by framing the very particular challenges brought about by Kiaostami’s filmic innovations. The central sections of the article then develop a focused analysis of Taste of Cherry, in particular the crucial and rarely addressed construction-site sequence at the heart of the film, homing in on its stretched and lacunae-enforcing temporality. Finally I address the much-discussed ending with reference to prominent critical readings, before offering an alternative description and emphasis that stresses the particular way the movement from 35-milemetre celluloid through blackness then into degraded analogue video violently affects our experience of an already, if thus far subtly, reflexive film. While critical responses have at times briefly approached the kind of analysis offeredhere, the qualities emphasized ahead are most often submerged or even ultimately disavowed in prominent readings of the film as offering a hopeful, religious, or utopian vision of social-political reconciliation and/or cinema’s redemptive power. Rather than humanist, spiritualist, or merely formalist, this article offers Taste of Cherry as one of the most subtly and confronting negativity-engaging films that the last few decades of world cinema has produced.


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