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Author: NĂ¡nay, Bence| Date: 08. 06. 2008. | Type: Article, Essay | Subject: Contemporary Iranian Film | Published: Metropolis - 2006 / 3. - Contemporary Iranian Film

Catharsis Praecox
The films of Abbas Kiarostami

The author analyzes the most important stylistic features of Kiarostami’s films. He argues that a crucial feature of these films is that they elicit very strong identification with a main character at the beginning of the narrative but this strong identification fades as the films proceed and this gives rise to a cathartic reaction that occurs not after the film is over, but before that, while the audience is still watching the movie. Nánay examines the various notions of identification and points out that a necessary condition for identifying with a fictional character is knowing what action(s) she is inclined to perform. If we do not know what the character wants, it is very difficult to identify with her. According to Nánay, on the narrative level, Kiarostami’s films proceed from a character’s almost pathologically wanting something to the vaning of this will. As a parallel phenomenon, the identification process these films elicit is becoming weaker and weaker as the time passes. Nánay relates this feature of the reception of Kiarostami’s films to their ambiguity and the director’s unwillingness to convey any (political or other) message with these works of art. He also traces this attitude back to André Bazin’s writings on film and contrasts it with the practice of young Iranian film directors (who are often his disciples). Finally, he points out that in the light of this crucial feature of Kiarostami’s feature films his non-narrative turn in the last couple of years becomes less surprising.

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