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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


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