Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry is an emotionally complex meditation on life and death. Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through t... more »he hilly outskirts of Tehran-searching for someone to rescue or bury him. Criterion is proud to present the DVD premiere of Taste of Cherry in a beautiful widescreen transfer.« less
"If you're going to make a film which largely consists of a man driving his Range Rover along dusty Iranian roads, soliciting various men for their assistance, you'd sure better make an engaging film. For the philosophically inclined, Abbas Kiarostami has done just that.Though most of the film takes place on a few dirt roads over-looking Tehran, you could still see it as a road movie, albeit a sophisticated, intellectually engaging one.Homayon Ershadi plays Badii, the driver of the Range Rover, as a strong yet depleted man, a man with resignation etched into his face in every frame. Mr. Badii is trying to find someone to help him with his suicide. The job is simple: come to cover his body if he's successful; rescue him if he is not. He's willing to give a tremendous amount of money for only a little work. Each man he picks up reacts to his offer in a different way--each of them conveys the belief that Badii's taking his own life would be wrong, but each of them gives different a reason for his inability to help. The only man willing to help Badii is another who once attempted suicide. Even he tries to convince him to remain, to remember the taste of cherry.The end of the movie has been misunderstood by some reviewers; it's not a trick, the movie is not a sham. The ending simply provides a jolting coda, reminding us that no matter how barren life may seem, there is a reality uncolored by emotion and mental disease, and in that reality there are others leading joyful lives.Not only has Kiarostami given us food for thought, he reveals gritty, dusty Tehran to be a city of haunting golden beauty. Another filmaker would have taken us to Eden to prove his point, but Kiarostami shows us there is beauty wherever you are, even in a land seemingly drained of color and steeped in binding tradition."
The taste of life... the taste of cherry
Carlos Figueiredo | Santa Comba Dão, Portugal | 12/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A man drives throughout the slums of Tehran, trying to find a man that agrees to burry him, after his suicide. This is the starting point of this rare movie gem, a masterpiece of auteur cinema and a profound reflection on the Human nature. As a moviemaker, Abbas Kiarostami is well regarded in Europe as one of the great directors from the asian continent, together with the great japanese directors and the indian Satyajit Ray. The Palme D'Or that he received in the Cannes Film Festival is a proof of the profound recongnizement that the europeans have for him. It looks like that in the USA, the first contact with this outstanding moviemaker is becoming rather frutuous,demonstrating that auteur cinema is appreciated everywhere. Without a great budget, Kiarostami managed to create a work that emerges directly from the depths of our soul, placing the problem of suicide before different persons of different religions and cultural roots. The rather harsh atmosphere of the movie, together with the magnificent performance of Homayon Ershadi, the main actor, make this a memmorable work, a piece of fine tapestry in the world of modern filmaking. I can only find simmilarities with Kiarostami, in the works of greek directos Theo Angelopoulos, specialy in his masterpiece "Eternity and a day", both directors that create portrayals of the human soul, their specificities, conflicts and problems."
Khayyám at 24 FPS
Nassim Sabba | Brookline, MA USA | 09/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Khayyám was a few centuries before Nietzsche and Sartre in his questioning and denial of religion and god. It should also be no surprise that he was the contemporary of Khawrazmi, the Persian mathematician who has given the world the idea of zero, or NOTHING. The abstraction of nothingness as dust is prevalent in Khayyám's work. So it is in this presentation. The alienation of modern man from nature too ties Kiarostami and Khayyám in an inverse manner, where Khayam saw all nature as nothing, except for the short flash of life, Kiarostami presents nature as a flash in a lifetime, of course along a long and winding road, where a single taste of cherries is equivalent to taking in the whole universe and attaining the freedom to evaluate life on YOUR own terms. If you choose to forgo cherries and mulberries to spare the ones you wish to live better, it is true shining of life. The "naturalist" who tries to convince our hero, who is as bitter as any "Omar", that the taste of cherries is sufficient to give meaning to everything and make up for all angst, survives by stuffing birds. Are these not the same 900 year old birds who in Khayyám's poetry ask the question of being and nothingness from atop ruins of bygone kings? There is not enough room here to get into the cinematography and camera work in this movie. Obviously Kiarostami has watched a lot of Kurosawa too. None the less, the final scene of the movie is simply beyond expectation. In the age of cold "media", the use of hand held video makes reality into a story, no matter how elating or how painful it might have been, it cools it to a story to be reviewed. Kiarostami uses this device to review a whole life before it is extinguished. There must be an equivalent to "reviewing one's life" in Khayyám's work which I have not discovered, at least not succinctly yet. Kiarostami may know it but doesn't, or can't tell us. But, so it was Khayyám's problem."
Life! what's it worth?
Ashegam | USA | 01/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is life worth anything? Perhaps this is one of the main questions going through the head of the main actor through out this film. The films first setting carries on for about 10-15 minutes leaving the viewer confused. It's not until half way through the movie that one realizes what the plot is about. Boring? no, but perhaps different and keeping you interested by making you more confused :)
The movie is slow paced but will have you sigh a big "wow" at the end and make you realize why they took it so slow. It will also leave you with questions that only you can asnwer for your self and not a buddy who was watching it with you. Lastely It will make you think twice about the gift of life and how we engorge ourselves in the big picture and overlook the small details.
So take a deep breath and be prepared to think of the unthinkable :)"
Masterpiece of the cinema of lonliness
amir y. | tehran,iran | 10/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""taste of cherry" is kiarostami's most complete work while-surprisingly-simultaneously being his most personal.i regard it as personal for reasons that to ME are obvious:homayoun ershadi(lead actor)looks a bit like kiarostami,he(in character) apparantely is of an intellectual atheism,his situation(driving around in his car for most of the time of the movie)can be depicted as a metaphor of either the director viewing through his camera or the spectator watching the movie and generally he is easy for the modern artist to identify with in terms of extreme lonliness.kiarostami wisely chooses to give no direct reason for his decision to attempt suicide.instead he focuses on his attempt to make human contact just before departure and from this premise forms the powerful drama of the film.kiarostami can be regarded as one of the most important figures of post-modern cinema:in use of new narrative devices,in this case the dialogues resemble comic book characters conversations where lines are written in white clouds above the characters heads,on the other hand the movie is another take by the director on the subject of life as narrative.each passanger has a "story" to tell,and in the end its about which story will us and Badi'ee(Ershadi) swallow.also its compatible with the post-modern notion of the re-invention of the "text" in the readers conception due to its "open" ending,we can't tell whether Badi'ee commit's suicide or not because neither for us and nor for him that is not the point anymore,we have taken part in hearing differrent stories and and experienced different approaches towards existance.kiarostami reminds us that narrating life IS itself LIFE,just like cheherezad keeps on telling stories to remain alive in the thousand and one nights.taste of cherry is the most sympathetic and lyrical attempt of contemporary cinema in illustrating the urban mans loveless-ness.a word about the DVD:though i'm grateful to the creators of Criterion and not only because of this movie,i hope there will be some improvement in the extras of iranian movies in general.the interview with kiarostami is to old for this movie and due to the importance of this film in kiarostami"s canon, a fresh and extensive interview with the man is necessary,plus reviews by kiarostami-liking critics and praises of international fellow directors."