Through the Olive Trees
Posted by martinteller on September 29, 2007
This is the third film of a trilogy. Although I’ve seen the first (Where Is My Friend’s House?), the second (And Life Goes On) is only available on VHS, and since I don’t have a VCR anymore, I had to make do. Although I’m certain this DVD from the library is a bootleg — the cover is a badly printed replica of the European DVD, the picture looks very grainy and has improper anamorphic encoding, and the menu is the cheapest one I’ve ever seen.
And it’s a real shame about missing the second film, because the three films are intricately connected. I’ve had to fill in the gaps with some online research. The first film is a simple story of a young boy trying to return a notebook he borrowed from a friend. I wasn’t impressed with it when I first saw it, but now that I’ve warmed up to Kiarostami, I owe it another look some day. The second film (so I’ve read) features an actor playing a film director searching for the children he cast in a film called Where Is My Friend’s House? after an earthquake. This film has a different actor playing a director making a film called And Life Goes On. It’s an incredibly fascinating web of self-reference… actors from Where Is My Friend’s House play themselves, and I’m sure there are countless references to ALGO that I’m missing. On one level, it’s a comic look at the process of filmmaking. On another, it’s about people coping with a tragic disaster (the earthquake). And on yet another, it’s the story of a sweet courtship. And what makes it work is that none of these things are overplayed, all are done in a restrained documentary style. They come together seamlessly in a cloud of cinema. And the ending is truly magnificent. The final scene (and the opening credits) is scored, I think the first time I’ve heard music in a Kiarostami film. However, it’s appropriate for the scene and helps comment on the separation of reality and fiction.
As with any Kiarostami film, it’s slow going and I admit there were times when it tried my patience but overall it was really worth it. Now I really need to chase down a copy of And Life Goes On. Rating: 8