The Wind Will Carry Us Review

AKA: Bad Ma Ra Khahad Bord
Genre: Slice-Of-Life
Year Released: 1999
Distributor: Cohen Media Group/eOne
Origin: Iran
Running Time: 118 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: PG
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Taste of Cherry, Close-Up, 3 Faces, A Separation, Children of Heaven
Notes:
-This review reflects the Cohen Media Group’s release on DVD.
Fun Facts:
-The title of the movie which is also referenced in one piece of dialogue is a quote from a poem by the late Iranian poet/filmmaker Forough Farrokhzad. Outside of her poetic work, she directed the short documentary The House Is Black.

-The cinematography was handled by Mahmoud Kalari who has collaborated with Abbas Kiarostami as well as Jafar Panahi and Mohsen Makhmalbaf. He actually has an Oscar to his name when he worked on the film A Separation by director Asghar Farhadi.

-The Wind Will Carry Us has been ranked in numerous top 10 lists in the British Film Institute and Variety’s Scott Foundas put that film in one of the best films of the 00s (context: it didn’t get released in America until a year after it’s debut). In that same list, The Wind Will Carry Us actually outranked There Will Be Blood on that list. Looks like Abbas Kiarostami was able to [puts sunglasses on] drink Paul Thomas Anderson’s milkshake. YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!


Abbas Kiarostami has been getting more exposure on Iridium Eye for the past year. I managed to cover some of his other films including some of his international co-productions in the later parts of his life. This time around I managed to watch one of the most critically-acclaimed works in his filmography. You can see the accolades and recognition from the last Fun Fact on the list which I wasn’t aware of until after watching this. Kiarostami is an innovator in cinema which I definitely won’t deny and he deserves to be in the conversation with other directors whether it’s in film academia or among various critics. Now that I got to see what is considered one of his magnum opuses, I get the opportunity to write about my thoughts on this particular film.

Will this film carry me to cinema paradiso or to the infernal dredges of mediocrity?

The Wind Will Carry Us takes place in a rural Kurdish village in Iran. A group of undercover journalists disguised as filmmakers and engineers goes to this small town to film a documentary. The subject involves a centenarian woman who’s supposedly on her deathbed and they want to cover the village’s mourning rituals. The main (not-) engineer named Bahzad wants the project to come to fruition, but he isn’t used to this environment. He and the others are city slickers directly from Tehran and aren’t accustomed to living the country life instead of the hustle or bustle of Iran’s capital/largest city. Things don’t go according to plan as the car has issues, Behzad getting nagged on his cell phone by another employee (which gets NO signal unless he drives out of the village given the huge amounts of rock buildings and a severe lack of towers), the local boy Farzad running around, and the woman actually isn’t dying. They’re forced to stay a lot longer and have to decelerate as they get used to living in the Iranian boondocks.

After thinking about the situation I mentioned in the last sentence, one could make an argument that The Wind Will Carry Us is the artsy neorealism version of Doc Hollywood (or Cars if you only watch Disney’s rip-off movies) or any kind of “city people slowing down in the country” movie, but that’s just scratching the surface. It’s not the first time I’ve reviewed such a movie with that storyline since I watched the Hong Kong/Taiwanese film The Drummer, but that’s a story for another day. At least it was a different variant on that storyline concept which I do appreciate. I can’t say I’ve seen a version that involves journalists in disguise just to cover mourning rituals for a dying person, yet that individual is still alive despite being an invalid. Behzad is able to nail this beleaguered reporter as he’s constantly interrupted by his phone as well as trying to adjust to the country life while asking why the locals do the things they do. The neorealism production is good to be expected with the organic cinematography, alternating driving close-up shots (a trademark since A Taste of Cherry), and natural hues with minimal color correcting. The wide-angle shots of rural Iranian Kurdistan certainly looked gorgeous. The music was very minimal but very impactful with the ending theme with the imagery of the bone floating in the local river. Kiarostami delivers with the poetic feel with the long shots as well as incorporating Iranian poetry quotes in part of the dialogue in non-pretentious ways. The Wind Will Carry Us also has that understated and artsy nature which certainly gives it a good dynamic there.

The Wind Will Carry Us isn’t some gale-force work. This movie tends to meander multiple times. I can handle other Kiarostami movies. I know his films have a lot of long shots and aren’t some adrenaline-loaded stories, but it does feel aimless at different points of the movie. As far as characters are concerned, they do act like real people which is a plus, but rarely any of them are focused. Most of them don’t have names and Behzad’s crew feel like warm bodies instead of real characters. They’re just mentioned by name in passing, but most of them don’t do anything. I also thought the plot twist with a character getting accidentally buried alive (spoilers minimized) would have a much bigger impact given how it was one of the few dangerous plot points, but it felt incongruous with the entirety of the movie. Okay, I don’t watch a Kiarostami flick for action, danger, and suspense, but I at least expect to have more cohesion with the plot. The phone subplot with Bahzad did get repetitive. I understand the person on the other end of the line is a nag, but it became an unintentional running gag with him driving out of the village just to get reception. This was made in 1999 and there is some age there with some of the fashions, the cars, and that cell phone is a brick with an antenna. If this was made this year or even a decade ago, he’d be rocking an iPhone or Android and not have to drive away all the time for the reception since he could just walk away from the stone houses.

While The Wind Will Carry Us was a hugely critically-acclaimed film, but I did find it overrated. Abbas Kiarostami deserves to be in the canon of great filmmakers, but I didn’t think it was all that excellent. The natural slice-of-life feel was pleasant and the rural Iranian village was intriguing, but this got too slow even for me. The acting did work in its understated feel, but there weren’t many highlighted characters, but rather some random individuals besides the main characters. I didn’t think this movie was horrible and I wouldn’t mind watching it again, but I thought The Wind Will Carry Us was just good and not some magnum opus.

Adjustable Point System:
-Add 1-2 points if you’re an Abbas Kiarostami fan.
-Add 1 point if you like neorealism movies.
-Subtract 1-2 points if you want pristine production.
-Subtract 2-3 points if you’re not a fan of soap operas/telenovelas.

Pros:
-Excellent camera work and cinematography
-Nice poetic feel
-Creative take on the “city people in the country” trope

Cons:
-Meanders multiple times
-Unintentional Period Piece Syndrome (especially the cell phone)
-Lack of focus with characters

Final Score: 7/10 points

Content Advisory: The Wind Will Carry Us is a tame work like most of Kiarostami’s films. There’s a backdrop of a dying 100-year-old patient and one character is rescued from being buried alive which does get intense. Despite the lack of offensive material, I can’t see younger viewers getting into this film.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos are property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. The Wind Will Carry Us is property of eOne and Cohen Media Group. The DVD cover is from Barnes & Noble and is property of eOne and Cohen Media Group.

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