Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Film Studies

Female Figurations in Kiarostami's the Wind Will Carry Us

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Film Studies

Female Figurations in Kiarostami's the Wind Will Carry Us

Article excerpt

Résumé : L'essai qui suit met en lumière l'importance de la représentation des femmes dans le film The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) du réalisateur Iranien Abbas Kiarostami. L'étude soutient l'idée que les personnages féminins, peu nombreux, ont un impact sur la transformation du personnage principal, Behzad, que l'on nomme, avec déférence, "l'ingénieur". Dans son affection pour la poésie, il manifeste déjà une ouverture pour l'adoption de nouvelles perspectives face à la vie. De surcroît, le film fait un tableau de l'écriture féminine dans sa circularité, dans sa répugnance à l'achèvement, son accentuation de la beauté de la vie. La poésie, disséminée dans le récit, souligne l'importance de "l'écriture féminine" qui, avec l'accent qu'elle met sur la vie, mène Behzad, qui était initialement obsédé par la mort, à recouvrer l'appréciation de ses beautés multiformes.

One of the criticisms leveled at Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami, especially prior to the release of the female-dominated movie Ten (Dah, 2002) and Copie conforme (2010), has been the perceptible absence of female characters. One need only watch his internationally-acclaimed movies including Where is the Friend's Home? [Khaneyi doost kojast?, 1987) and Taste of Cherry [Ta'm-i Gilaas, 1997) to concur with film critic Negar Mottahedeh's observation that "woman is what is subtracted from the screen in [Kiarostami's] oeuvre."' Yet, as shall be argued in this paper, the spectators cannot but help feel the presence of women within the interstices of the filmic narrative, even in their absence. More than the corporeal presence of women in these films, female figurations manifest themselves in a filmic portrayal of what Hélène Cixous calls écriture feminine: a mode of writing that disrupts patriarchal master narratives of linearity as it opts for potentially more nuanced and lively circular performances.2 This paper seeks to deconstruct female figurations in The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), not only with regard to women's absent presence, but also in terms of the feminine elements embedded in the plot that lead to a pictorial projection of écriture feminine. Consequently, sensual experience is prioritized over a linear and logo-centric form of expression as a means of moving through the continuum of time and space, only to ultimately find a way out of the spatio-temporal constraints of life in an appreciation for the cycle of life and the intensity of the moments it presents to us. Female writing, as shall be seen, does not confine itself to the depiction of the sights and sounds of women who present themselves in the course of the plot, but pulsates in the poesis of the film itself, which reaches a crescendo in the poetic voice of one of the greatest of all poets, Forugh Farrokhzad-known as simply Forugh, among Iranians.

Prior to tackling the artistic delicacies of 'feminine writing' and its manifestations in The Wind. Will Carry Us, it would be useful to explore the thrust of the film's narrative, namely, the desire for death, the death of a woman.3 Despite being initially wrapped up in a cloak of mystery, the purpose behind the trip embarked upon by an all-male crew of filmmakers headed by Behzad Dorrani (who is referred to as mohandes or "engineer") to the remote village of Siyah Darreh in the strife-torn Kurdistan province is shortly unveiled: the filming of the funeral of the matriarch of the village, Maliheh Malik.4 Although shocking to most viewers, the burning desire for the death of a woman has proven to be a leitmotif in a number of Persian literary texts.5

That a woman is both the "telos and the origin" of many an ambitious journey embarked upon by an adventurous male is, however, not a theme confined to the sphere of the Orient. Teresa de Lauretis exemplifies the rootedness of every creative construction of the male artist in the desire for the female Other in an allegory taken from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, which recounts how men constructed a city named Zobeide with the aim of capturing an elusive female figure who had appeared to them naked with long hair, only to find no trace of her whatsoever:

[Wjoman is both the source of the drive to represent and its ultimate, unattainable goal. …

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