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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Wind Will Carry Us
The Wind Will Carry Us
New Yorker Video // Unrated // September 17, 2002
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted January 5, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

The Wind Will Carry Us, a film by Abbas Kiarostami, brings viewers to a place far off the beaten track: a small, rural village in Iran, with its houses nestled up to the hills, and reached by a narrow, winding dirt road through the endless fields all around. The film opens with a car rattling over this road, filled with a group of men who are visiting the town for a specific (but unstated) purpose. The main thrust of the film is what the protagonist sees, hears, and experiences, as he wanders around the town. The problem is that nothing actually happens, or at least nothing that is understandable to a viewer outside Iranian culture.

Well into the film, after the protagonist has wandered around the town and chatted with various and sundry of its inhabitants, and frantically rushed out of town several times to take calls on his cell phone, it becomes reasonably apparent that he and his crew (whose voices we hear, but whom we never see) want to film a local ceremony surrounding the death of an old woman who lives in the town. This old woman, however, stubbornly clings to life, leaving the protagonist to cool his heels in frustration.

This extremely thin thread of narrative is weakened further by the lack of context about what's going on. He's there to film something... but what, exactly, is he there to  film? Is this a hidden ritual (hence the secrecy of the film crew's intentions) or just something that hasn't been recorded before? Are these professionals, or amateurs? (They certainly don't seem to be very organized or to have brought many supplies, and the protagonist seems to treat his camera as an afterthought). What explains the striking difference in clothing between the locals in their traditional clothing and the protagonist in his Western-style shirt and jeans? What does the clothing tell us about class or religious differences, and how does it influence what's going on? Why do the locals call the protagonist "engineer"? I ended up with many more questions than answers with regard to the film, and I suspect that my appreciation of the film was significantly reduced by my lack of context to pick up the cultural cues that would have (no doubt) answered many of these questions.

The film does a good job of setting the "hook" of interest, with the lush shots of the Iranian scenery, the multileveled, interconnected adobe houses that form a maze-like community, and the snippets of conversation with the inhabitants of the town. But with the audience on the hook, the film never reels us in; we remain outside the world of the story, our interest present but waning as the film rolls slowly to the end of its running time.

The DVD

Video

The Wind Will Carry Us is presented in a very attractive anamorphic widescreen transfer, presenting the film it its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The main flaw of the transfer is the presence of heavy edge enhancement, but the transfer is extremely good in all other respects. The print is very clean, with essentially no noise appearing in the image, even in striking one-color shots such as the blue sky where any noise would be very obvious; the print is also free of scratches or other flaws.

Colors are very nicely represented here. The dominant tones in the film's color palette are brown, gold, and tan, which come across with a warm, rich glow; black is also used heavily and is appropriately dark. Other colors are used sparingly but for good effect, and are vivid and attractive.

The Wind Will Carry Us has optional English subtitles, which are some of the best I've seen lately. Not only is it possible to view the film without subtitles if desired, but the subtitles themselves are very clear, presented in white with black shadowing so that they're readable on both dark and light backgrounds. The subtitles appear to be well-written and are free of spelling or typographical errors.

Audio

The soundtrack for The Wind Will Carry Us is a pleasant-sounding 2.0 Farsi track. For the most part, the track focuses on the dialogue, which appears to be clear and distinct even when several people are speaking at the same time. Music is subtly included as an environmental effect, from characters playing music at various places in the village. All in all, it's a gentle and generally pleasing soundtrack.

Extras

The DVD for The Wind Will Carry Us has a trailer for the film itself (whose poor condition demonstrates how much the film must have been cleaned up for the DVD transfer), and several trailers for other New Yorker Video films: A Love Divided, Taboo, Paragraph 175, and L.I.E.

Final thoughts

The Wind Will Carry Us is quite good at evoking a different culture, that of rural Iran; I enjoyed watching it simply as a glimpse of a world that's strikingly different from anywhere I've lived or visited. But as a story, it falls short because it fails to move beyond setting and mood; it never lets provides an access into the meaning of the film for viewers of a different culture. Given its limited audience appeal but its good-quality transfer onto DVD, The Wind Will Carry Us is an excellent rental choice for viewers interested in a glimpse into a very different culture.

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