The Wind Will Carry Us, 1999

A group of men from the city of Tehran traverse the rural Iranian countryside on a jeep, guided by a set of descriptive, yet unavoidably imprecise directions, seemingly lost. The driver (Behzad Dourani), respectfully called “Engineer” by the villagers, eventually encounters his appointed contact along the side of the road: a gentle, courteous boy named Farzad (Farzed Sohrabi), whom the Engineer proceeds to instruct with disseminating false information about their search for treasure in order to conceal the true and undisclosed nature of their visit to the Kurdish province. On an introductory tour through town, the Engineer shows interest in the declining health of Farzad’s grandmother, Malek, an invalid centenarian whose family has been keeping a vigil at the house as she approaches death. One day, unable to receive a clear signal from his cell phone in the remote village, the Engineer begins to drive to higher ground, and reaches a hilltop cemetery to receive his telephone call. Fragments of his conversation with his producer reveal that his assignment is associated with providing a chronicle of events associated with Malek’s eventual death. With little to do in the isolated province, the Engineer spends idle time by frequenting a quaint tea bar where the proprietress eagerly voices her complaints to any receptive ear, conversing with a lone ditchdigger named Youssef who literally throws him a bone, and listening attentively as a schoolteacher describes the sacred ceremony of scarring that is performed after a death by the women of the village as a sign of respect and community. But as the Engineer waits for a specific process of life to unfold for his documentary task, he also becomes a reverent observer for all of life’s undocumented passages in the small rural village.

Abbas Kiarostami presents an understated, honest, and introspective glimpse into the quiet dignity and celebration of everyday life in The Wind Will Carry Us. Kiarostami’s repeated use of unseen characters and off-camera action reinforces the film’s essential theme – the inherent beauty of the mundane: the frail Malek dictates the crew’s indefinite plans and extended stay in the village; the demure farmgirl, Zeynab, attracts the Engineer’s attention, who, in turn, flirts with the young woman by reciting a sensual modern Persian poem by Forough Farrokhzad; the collapse of Youssef’s ditch rallies the villagers to his rescue. Inevitably, as the Engineer becomes involved in the daily ritual of rural life, he transforms from an intrusive bystander to a concerned observer. The final scene shows the Engineer throwing his found artifact – the human bone – into a narrow, flowing river. It is a serene and poignant reminder of the transient beauty and eternal wonder of the human experience.

© Acquarello 2001. All rights reserved.

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