Abbas Kiarostami: the shock of the real

Angelaki 17 (4):61-76 (2012)
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Abstract

This essay begins by offering a reading of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy, in which we are unable to decide whether or not the couple we see there is married. But rather than coming down ourselves on one side or another, we ask why it is that their love for each other might be expressed only through their game-playing. And we follow this confusion between the real and the artificial throughout Kiarostami's career – from the “lie” that structures social reality in Where is the Friend's House? through the character Sabzian's “confession” in Close-Up and beyond. We argue that it is in its putting together of the real and the fictional that Kiarostami's cinema at once continues and marks a break with Italian Neo-Realism and with usual conceptions of the “spiritual.” In Kiarostami's cinema, the spiritual is not to be opposed to the real or the represented, but is only to be seen through them. That other world is here, just as the afterlife is now.

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Rex Butler
Monash University

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