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Taste of Cherry (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection)

Homayoun Ershadi , Abdolrahman Bagheri , Abbas Kiarostami    Unrated   DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami won the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for this contemplative film about a Muslim, Mr. Badi (Homayon Ershadi), who drives around the barren hills outside Tehran, flagging down passersby and offering good money for a simple job that he's hesitant to explain. He's planning his suicide and seeks someone to perform something of a symbolic eulogy. Most of his subjects refuse (personal morality aside, suicide is forbidden to Muslims), but he finds an elderly taxidermist (Abdolrahman Bagheri) who agrees only because he needs the money for an ill child. Yet the old man gently pleads with him to choose life, to embrace the joys of earthly existence, to remember the taste of cherries. Though initially greeted with critical acclaim, A Taste of Cherry received poor distribution in the U.S. The meandering, deliberately paced drama is composed of long conversations and long silences, and the camera is locked in the car for entire sequences, staring at the protagonists in still closeups with the dusty landscape rolling past the windows of the Land Rover in the background. Kiarostami's film is not for everyone, but if you can embrace the quiet power and grace of his deceptively simple style, the film becomes a remarkably rich celebration of human dignity and resilience. By the astonishing conclusion we can see past Badi's age-etched face to the soul peering out from behind his sad eyes. --Sean Axmaker

Product Description

Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry is an emotionally complex meditation on life and death. Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the hilly outskirts of Tehran-searching for someone to rescue or bury him. Criterion is proud to present the DVD premiere of Taste of Cherry in a beautiful widescreen transfer.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Riding in cars with strangers June 6 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD
The customer reviewers who grew impatient with the car ride in Kiarostami's A Taste of Cherries must be stuck in the "are we there yet?" element of childhood rather than in its openness to impression. I liked the advice of reviewer Achilles Kyriakopoulos just to "concentrate on what you see." Submerse yourself in what you see and understanding will follow. Surrendering to the (always sumptuous) visual in Kiarostami's movies yields powerful insights into our complicated species.
We bound along dirt roads in his car with Bari, the central character, on a strange mission through the white dust of the bleached outskirts of Tehran and the red dust of the barren countryside. No juiciness, greenness, or comfort in the prospects for this ride. Why should there be? Bari has none.
Bari, looking for someone to help him complete the last stage of a mission, is picking up strangers and making an unusual proposal to them. When they hear it, the rising, naive fear of a young soldier, the creature simplicity of a plastic bag collector, and the compassionate inexperience of a seminary student are reflected in the faces of these men. Bari is asking to have some earth shoveled over him after his suicide. The soldier runs away in plain horror; the plastic-bag man, who seems rendered imbecile by poverty, sticks to collecting inventory for sale to support his family; and the seminary student escapes through his theology.
What can you do when you're watching the film and are thus stuck in the car with this man Bari? Stop watching? Grieve that he's past being moved by the human graces we encounter on the road-the beliefs and commitments, the lending hands, the cups of tea offered out of courtesy or fellow-loneliness?
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5.0 out of 5 stars This film should be appreciated Nov. 16 2002
Format:DVD
As I read the reviews of this film, I found there are two groups of viewers, one appreciated the film, the other finds it boring and tedious. I like this film, and I always find this kind of film fascinating. It is the kind of film that can be appreciated in more than one way, just like Fellini's "8 1/2" and Bergman's "The 7th Seal". Okay, maybe it is not as thought-provoking as "The 7th Seal" and not as artistically-peculiar as the "8 1/2", but it's thorouly simple and warm. The whole film is teaching its audience the simplest difference between being alive and dead, which is that living a life is supposed to be enjoyable and valuable. Knowing such simple truth, however, takes the main character over 50 years (he looks like 50-ish to me), and takes us, the audience, 101 minutes (if you appreciate this film), and it is absolutely worth it. How often do we see a unique film like this? And how often do we REALLY find life enjoyable and valuable? See this film, if once doesn't help ya, try twice, and hopefully you'll find its beauty.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The taste of life... the taste of cherry Dec 22 2000
Format:DVD
A man drives throughout the slums of Tehran, trying to find a man that agrees to burry him, after his suicide. This is the starting point of this rare movie gem, a masterpiece of auteur cinema and a profound reflection on the Human nature. As a moviemaker, Abbas Kiarostami is well regarded in Europe as one of the great directors from the asian continent, together with the great japanese directors and the indian Satyajit Ray. The Palme D'Or that he received in the Cannes Film Festival is a proof of the profound recongnizement that the europeans have for him. It looks like that in the USA, the first contact with this outstanding moviemaker is becoming rather frutuous,demonstrating that auteur cinema is appreciated everywhere. Without a great budget, Kiarostami managed to create a work that emerges directly from the depths of our soul, placing the problem of suicide before different persons of different religions and cultural roots. The rather harsh atmosphere of the movie, together with the magnificent performance of Homayon Ershadi, the main actor, make this a memmorable work, a piece of fine tapestry in the world of modern filmaking. I can only find simmilarities with Kiarostami, in the works of greek directos Theo Angelopoulos, specialy in his masterpiece "Eternity and a day", both directors that create portrayals of the human soul, their specificities, conflicts and problems.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie (depending on your taste) June 13 2000
Format:DVD
This movie is one of my favorites. On an abstract level, it is just the kind of movie that appeals to me. It raises complex philosophical and psychological questions. The overall tone encourages one to ponder these questions and the movie encourages reflection and introspection. The depth of those conflicts can not be adequately understood on a first viewing alone: each time I watch it I am able to reach a little deeper into them.
The cinematography focuses on simplicity. Most of the movie is shot from the inside of a Land Rover while the main character drives aimlessly or talks with one of the passengers he picks up. There is no lack of imagination, though. The idea is to create a kind of stark reality, without grandeur. The effect is to bring one man's life and his character to the forefront and to keep it there: we feel a distinct connection with this man as a result of the simple method of movie-making. The acting, I think, is amazing. Ershadi imparts astounding depth into his character - there is no bombast or superficiality present: he is totally immersed in his character. The viewer develops a deep connection with this character despite his quiet and unexcitable personality. The main character is often criticized as coming across as bland, but I think that there very subtle (yet intense) emotion there.
The video and sound are excellent. The Criterion Collection can always be counted on to produce high quality DVD's and this one is no exception.
All in all, a challenging but most rewarding viewing experience. Highly recommended...
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A film that is also visual art
What a beautiful film! To me, it was not just about the theme (or the pace, which has cinematic purpose). Read more
Published on Dec 23 2007 by literary critic
3.0 out of 5 stars an interesting film
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film explores the ethics of suicide from an Islamic standpoint. Read more
Published on April 21 2004 by Ted
2.0 out of 5 stars Squandered Potential
The basic skeleton of this movie (guy looking for help with his suicide plan) has huge philosophical and spiritual potential. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2003 by Imran Currah
5.0 out of 5 stars TASTE OF IRAN
This was the first Iranian film I ever saw. I always had a lot of respect for the Iranian culture but after the Shah there was not much around. Read more
Published on May 25 2003 by Boris Zubry
5.0 out of 5 stars Original Poetic
This is not a film for everyone! I would call it director's film. Original, complex, mind challanging and cinematographically beautiful.
Published on Dec 10 2002 by sia sanati
5.0 out of 5 stars atmospheric masterpiece of earth and dust
This internationally acclaimed visual masterpiece by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami may leave you bored if you demand explosions, car chases, or a strong narrative in your... Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2002 by "purplo"
5.0 out of 5 stars HOW IRAN LOOKS TODAY?
Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami is taking you for a ride around Teheran through his hero in the movie Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi). Read more
Published on May 18 2002 by A. KIRIAKOPOULOS
1.0 out of 5 stars How is this worthy of being in the Criterion Collection
If there was a deep meaning in this film, then I missed it entirely. After the first ten minutes of driving and talking I was bored. Read more
Published on April 8 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars It's not just that this is slow...
It's not just that this is slow-- some of the greatest films of all time (Dreyer, Bresson, Ozu) are extremely deliberate in their pacing, the better to concentrate the viewer on... Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2002 by Michael Gebert
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull as ditchwater and about as deep.
A large portion of the running time of A Taste of Cherry--perhaps the majority--is footage of a guy driving around in his car. You think I'm kidding? Watch the movie, I dare you. Read more
Published on Dec 26 2001 by Joe Gola
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