The sanity of a Kiarostami film


Title: Five Dedicated to Ozu

By: Abbas Kiarostami

At a time when multiplexes are deafening us with special effects movies and sequels with apocalyptic battles between Good and Evil, it helps to take refuge in the sanity of a Kiarostami film. Five Dedicated to Ozu is at once a tribute to the Japanese master of the long take and a meditation on the radical possibilities of cinema. Kiarostami has called it “a work that approaches poetry, painting. It lets me escape from the obligation of narration and of the slavery of mise en scène.”

The film consists of five shots lasting about fifteen minutes each, of the seashore. In the first segment, a piece of driftwood floats on the waves, with once piece breaking off; in the second, people walk on a promenade, sometime stopping to exchange a word; some dogs sit on the beach; a flock of ducks cross and re-cross the frame; and finally, in an almost black screen, night sounds are heard, a storm breaks and passes.

People frequently fall asleep while watching the film and Kiarostami finds that a very encouraging response. There is, after all, something hypnotic in the movement of the waves, something soothing in the random way people move or stop to watch the sea. If the film escapes a comparison with reality television or security tapes, it is because the shots are very carefully constructed; and for the observant viewer, the gentle way in which the image is manipulated or the shot framed to create small moments of drama is nothing less than exhilarating.