Posted in 4½ Stars, Film Reviews

Through the Olive Trees – Review

✯✯✯✯½

Abbas Kiarostami passed away on July 4, 2016. When the news came by, I could not have felt any more devastated upon the knowledge that one of the greatest artists of his kind has passed. May he rest in peace, and I would like to thank him for his wonderful contributions to such a wondrous art form.

Kiarostami’s films provide mystifying experiences that pay tribute to life as much as they do with the art form which they are a part of – if it were not already evident through his masterful Close-Up, the nature of Through the Olive Trees can already hint at what defines his work so perfectly. It’s one thing to grab the eyes of someone like myself when we are to talk of Kiarostami’s intention of blurring the lines between fiction and reality, but they present a statement about how art and life may not be so different after all. Although Close-Up still remains my favourite of Kiarostami’s films, the wonders that flowed as Through the Olive Trees went on were always prominent and the results are at their very best, beautiful.

A picture of actors after the devastation of an earthquake.

Through the Olive Trees is the final part to Abbas Kiarostami’s Koker trilogy, which had been comprised of Where Is the Friend’s Home? and Life, and Nothing More…. From Where is the Friend’s Home? and its establishing of the style that Kiarostami would have himself grow so quickly around, we have Life, and Nothing More… revisiting upon the first installment but in this scenario, he is recalling the process of making the second installment. It’s interesting how Kiarostami decides to turn what he knows forms the life behind the production of one film into such a statement much like this for what he presents certainly calls upon reflection behind how life runs, and what if we realize that films may not play upon notes that are so different than our own experiences in some way.

Although it is interesting to see where Kiarostami is willing to go with the ideas he presents on the screen, a small part of Through the Olive Trees falters from how at times, there is an impression left that Kiarostami is repeating upon what he has already managed to leave behind with a film like Close-Up, for instance.Through the Olive Trees is not a film that is built upon the lies in order to express a form of truth, but a similar theme can most certainly be found that does not feel so differently expressed. Not that it’s an inherent flaw, but it does not feel as distinctive especially when it is looked upon alongside what Kiarostami had been able to establish with his own brand through some of his previous works. It feels much like a repeat to some extent, but excellence still flows all throughout.

The manner to which Kiarostami establishes the effect of simulating a documentary helps in setting the naturalistic tones which run all throughout his work. It is in this regard where something different from Close-Up is clear. His own hiring of non-actors creates an atmosphere for his film that in turn feels so truthful and it adds more to the effect which he creates from blurring fiction and reality. Add that, together with how Kiarostami is intending through the framing of the emotions of his subjects, it becomes intact that there is something to be left in awe with when we look upon what the film really is; fiction or nonfiction, does it really matter especially with how the flow of life is captured?

What’s always intriguing about what Abbas Kiarostami is presenting on the screen is the reflection coming by about art and life. How are they so different especially in what they are telling of? Through the Olive Trees contains a form of truth that only cinema could have expressed in such a manner. No one has mastered the art of metafilmmaking the way that an artist much like Abbas Kiarostami has, and even though it is not my favourite of his work, what Through the Olive Trees presents a perfect embodiment of what Kiarostami is best expressing through his work. On a side note, the final moments of Through the Olive Trees are some that shall never leave one’s mind.


Watch the trailer right here.

All images via Miramax.


Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Screenplay by Abbas Kiarostami
Produced by Abbas Kiarostami
Starring Hossein Rezai, Farhad Kheradmand, Mohamad Ali Keshavarz
Release Year: 1994
Running Time: 103 minutes

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Author:

Jaime Rebanal writes film reviews regularly for Letterboxd and is also the founder of Jaime Rebanal's Film Thoughts, a blog dedicated to discussing the good and bad for the many films he views. He has written consistently for at least a year and continues to allow his content to roam free across the web, and is always open to discuss with fellow film fans.

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