Art And Culture

Kiarostami’s Last Film Gets Rave Reviews at Cannes

The film has no dialogue and simply shows different views of nature with a kind of animal in each one
Screenshots from ‘24 Frames’Screenshots from ‘24 Frames’

The late auteur Abbas Kiarostami’s last film ‘24 Frames’ was premiered on May 23, in the 70th Anniversary Events section of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival in France.

After watching the two-hour movie, several critics of various magazines and websites wrote positive reviews on the film, praising the director’s wry humor and extraordinary eye.

The celebrated filmmaker was three years into his self-financed project when he passed away last July at the age of 76, so it fell to his elder son Ahmad to finish the work.

Comprised of 24 vignettes, each four-and-a-half minutes long, the film shows a series of 23 photos, from his own collection taken over 40 years, and one painting by the Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, all expanded into a flowing live-action tableau, or (as the movie calls it) a ‘frame’, using copious and all-but-invisible digital technology.

Elaborating on his last work, Kiarostami (1940-2016) had said, “I always wonder to what extent the artist aims to depict the reality of a scene. Painters capture only one frame of reality and nothing before or after it. For the ‘24 Frames’ I decided to use the photos I had taken through the years. I included 4 minutes and 30 seconds of what I imagined might have taken place before or after each image that I had captured”.

The film has no dialogue and just shows different views of nature with a kind of animal in each one. “He loved nature and would say ‘cleaned his eyes with nature’. He had to go into nature,” Ahmad said about his father to CNN.

Kiarostami did not consider himself as only a filmmaker. “I am an artist, I have different mediums (through which) to say things. Film is just one of them,” Ahmad quoted him as saying. As he said his father’s work was not the norm, “it is more art than entertaining.”

Speaking to the festival website, Ahmad explained that he has been working on post-production of the film for the past five months. “We had to make some changes, but always while trying to put our own views aside, we had to guess how my father would have thought about it,” he said.

Kiarostami, who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Festival in 1997 for ‘Taste of Cherry’, succeeded in leaving an indelible mark on the world, always pushing back the limits of innovative, poetic cinema, even up to the very end.

  Rigorously Experimental

Giving it four stars (out of five), the Guardian critic Xan Brooks has called ‘24 Frames’ “a mesmeric glimpse into Abbas Kiarostami’s mysterious mind; it is gorgeous and enigmatic and rigorously experimental; it demands patience and engagement. But the haunted ghost-film had me completely entranced.”

Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic of Variety, writes, the idea behind the film can be making the audience wandering during some sequences with the question “why bring photographs to life?”

Gleiberman believes, “Kiarostami is not just making hypnotic images; he is communing with the audience (as he always did). There are a number of striking vistas of death and (some frames) are also about eternity.”

Barbara Scharres from says that ‘24 Frames’ is a simple yet profound work. “The short sequences, most in black-and-white, some in color, are breathtaking in the beauty of the photography and startling in the acuteness and vibrant curiosity of the vision.”

“Each (frame) is a contemplative mini-drama evolving in its own time. Kiarostami’s love of snowy landscapes, the sea, the forces of nature, and his fascination with the unsentimental drama of the animal world bring home the intelligence and patient vision of the artist behind the camera,” she writes.


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