Through the Olive Trees
The social status of filmmaking among ordinary people, central to Abbas Kiarostami’s wonderful Close-up and Life and Nothing More, is equally pertinent in this entertaining and sometimes beautiful film. Through the Olive Trees (1994) concludes a trilogy begun with Where Is My Friend’s House?, which focused on the adventures of a poor schoolboy in a mountainous region of northern Iran. Life and Nothing More, the second and best film of the three, fictionally re-created Kiarostami and his son’s return to the area, which had recently been devastated by an earthquake, to look for two child actors from the earlier film. Through the Olive Trees is a comedy about the making of a film, mostly emphasizing the persistent efforts of a young actor to woo an actress who won’t even speak to him. Like Kiarostami’s more recent Taste of Cherry, all three films strategically elide certain information about the characters, inviting audiences to fill in the blanks and in this case yielding a mysteriously beautiful and open-ended conclusion. If you’re unfamiliar with Kiarostami–one of our greatest living filmmakers and certainly the greatest in Iran–this is an excellent introduction. Music Box, Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.