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  • Jason Prior

Through the Branches of the Tree: A Metaphysical Trip through Abbas Kiarostami’s World


Photo from Abbas Kiarostami's Snow Series

Through many of Abbas Kiarostami’s works trees and paths have held important roles and also served as symbols for a deeper understanding. However, Kiarostami is only the latest manifestation of metaphysical thought that spans many hundreds of years, including poetic and literary legends such as Mowlana (Rumi), Nizami, and Omar Khayyam. It can therefore be argued that film, rather than written text, is the medium that Kiarostami uses to express his thoughts feelings and beliefs. In a 2007 interview Kiarostami said that the reason that poets like Hafez or Rumi are so prolific is due to the fact that the lessons they impart are timeless, they can be adapted to the time in which they are being read (Parhami). Additionally, Kiarostami said that he gauged the importance of a film not by how much money it makes or how many people read it, rather the timeless quality of its story.

Aside from his own words Kiarostami also employs motifs from Sufi poetry and mysticism. The tree and hill motif from Where Is My Friend’s House harkens back to stories like Attar’s Conference of the Birds in which a group of birds decides to embark on quest to find the mythical Simorgh. Both stories can be interpreted to mean an internal quest to attain a goal with hardships along the way, effectively making the only difference between Nizami and Kiarostami access to modern technology. This is but one interpretation of a myriad interpretations and it’s this plurality of meaning that lends mystic poetry its timelessness.

It will remain an unanswered question whether or not Kiarostami’s films will stand the test of time that his predecessors withstood; however, with the timeless themes and storytelling that he employed I don’t think it to be out of the realm of possibility that in some way, shape or form that Abbas Kiarostami’s films will continued to be presented in the near and far future.

Works Cited:

Shahin Parhami (2004). "A Talk with the Artist: Abbas Kiarostami in Conversation". Synoptique. Retrieved 2016-10-29.

Sterritt, David, "With Borrowed Eyes", Film Comment, Volume 36, No. 4, (July–August 2000), pp 20–26

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