The Wind Will Carry Us

The Wind Will Carry Us

1999, NR, 118 min. Directed by Abbas Kiarostami. Starring Behzad Dourani, Farzad Sohrabi.

REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Jan. 19, 2001

As he arrives at his modest guest quarters in Siah Dareh, a village nestled like a honeycomb into the sun-bleached hills of rural Iran, the Engineer (Dourani) shrugs, “Small things have their value, too.” So too with The Wind Will Carry Us, the latest film from writer-director Abbas Kiarostami. Like much of the neorealist filmmaking tradition globally popularized by Kiarostami (a perennial fave of the Austin Film Society) and countrymen like Dariush Mehrjui and Bahman Ghobadi, this spare, almost storyless film won't please every palate. It inches forward with the deliberate speed of a dung-rolling beetle -- who will appear late in the film as a metaphor for the dogged, relentlessly practical way of life the Engineer and his crew (who are only heard as disembodied, offscreen voices) find on their expedition to Kurdistan. They tell no one of their trip's purpose, but none of the villagers are particularly curious; they're matter-of-factly having children, harvesting strawberries, serving tea, and patiently obtaining fresh milk for their guests. The Engineer jokingly tells a schoolboy (Sohrabi, who has an expressive and natural presence on camera) that they're searching for buried treasure, but they seem to be waiting for a local woman, Mrs. Malek, to die so that they can photograph the mourning ceremony. In what is probably the closest thing the Iranian cinema has ever had to a conventional running joke, the Engineer is bedeviled by cell-phone problems, constantly scrambling to higher ground each time a mysterious Mrs. Godarzi calls from Tehran to check on his “progress.” But this is no fish-out-of-water farce, even if its impatient, city-slicker protagonist yields right-of-way to meandering goat herds and stray chickens with the cosmic exasperation of a vaudeville straight man. Rather, Kiarostami pays tribute to the quiet nobility of the villagers (amateur actors who appear as themselves) with an understated script and painterly visuals by cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari. A dramatic long shot shows the Engineer's truck being gradually absorbed into the landscape of radiant farmland; in the village, Kalari's camera lingers on the texture of the steep, labyrinthine stone walls and the shadows they cast, nuances that will surely be flattened to death on video. Though The Wind Will Carry Us chronicles the same struggling people seen last year in Ghobadi's bleak A Time for Drunken Horses, it's far less polemical and more visually polished, with an aesthetic that more closely resembles the artful compositions of formalist Andrei Tarkovsky than Ghobadi's jagged, semi-documentary naturalism. No doubt some viewers could find fault with the slack pacing, though it's hardly inappropriate for a film that's fundamentally about emerging from frustration and stasis into a state of grace.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Abbas Kiarostami Films
24 Frames
Iranian master filmmaker plays with the almost-moving image.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Feb. 23, 2018

Like Someone in Love
The latest film from Iranian filmmaking legend Abbas Kiarostami is set in Japan and looks at some characters playing out approximations of love.

Leah Churner, March 15, 2013

More by Marrit Ingman
Wonder Stories
Wonder Stories

July 25, 2008

King Corn
The film’s light hand, appealing style, and simple exposition make it an eminently watchable inquiry into the politics of food, public health, and the reasons why corn has become an ingredient in virtually everything we eat.

Nov. 9, 2007


The Wind Will Carry Us, Abbas Kiarostami, Behzad Dourani, Farzad Sohrabi

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle