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Middle-aged Mr.Badii is planning to commit suicide and desperately seeks anyone to assist him - he has already dug out the grave in the mountains, but the assistant will have to bury him when he will do the deed. He asks Kurd soldier, Afghan seminarian, but everyone refuses by some reason. Finally he finds an old Turkish taxidermist, who has a sick son and previously attempted suicide himself, and he agrees to assist Badii. Written by
It's the most ambiguous film of Abbas Kiarostami and most of its ambiguity rises from the ending of the film. As a result, The Taste of Cherry offers various interpretations, assumptions and even controversies. According to Kiarostami, "In general, I think movies and art should take us away from daily life, should take us to another state, even though daily life is where this flight is launched from". I think these words are very valuable to understand Kiarostami's work. He always tried to take his viewers to another state, to a world outside, to arouse their ability of thinking and imagining. As a critic writes, "His cinema carries the utmost respect for an audience as a collection of thinking, intellectualizing individuals: never does he resort to devices intended to blatantly arouse the audience's emotions, edit didactically to make a political point, or instruct via an obvious narrative structure".
Mr. Badii, a middle aged man wants to commit suicide. He is searching for a person who will agree to bury his body if he finally succeeds to kill himself. He had already dug up a whole for himself, where he will lie down after taking lots of sleeping pills. All the other person has to do is to bury him. But before that he must make sure that he is dead. Mr. Badii is ready to offer a large sum of money to the person who will help him out. In the beginning we see the worried and nervous looking face of Mr. Badii, riding his car, desperately searching for something. For few minutes we don't understand his mission, what he wants, what he is searching. First he stops at a construction site, asks a young man for something. The young man without saying anything disappears. Then we see him talking to a man carrying plastic bags to sell in a recycle factory. Till now we have no idea what is going on, but the worried face of Badii and his weary inspection of the arid landscape of Tehran entail the viewer that something is going to happen. Gradually we come to know about his mission when he talks about it in detail, to a shy soldier whom he picks up from the road. The Soldier Runs away after hearing the plan though, when he gets a chance.
Next he finds a seminarist, an Afghan, who has come to Iran in order to find a job. He patiently listens to Badii and tries to understand him. But seminarist is also firm in his belief. He reminds him that according to Koran, committing suicide is prohibited and this is something that he won't do. Mr. Badii's quest goes on. Finally he finds a taxidermist working at the natural science museum, who agrees to help him. The Taxidermist doesn't seem to have a religious problem, but he is strictly against the idea of committing suicide But no matter what he says, Mr. Badii seems very certain about his decision. Before leaving, the Taxidermist promises him that he will surely do the job.
Next we see Mr.Badii at night, driving to the hill in the dark. He lies in the hole and closes his eyes. The screen gets completely dark; we only hear the sound of rain. It stays like this for a while and then we see daylight. We hear the military march and then we see the cameraman with a tripod. After that Kiarostami himself, ordering through the walkie-talkie, followed by the protagonist, Mr. Badii, evidently much more relaxed, offering a cigarette to Kiarostami. The film ends there.
The viewer eagerly watching is left disappointed. Well, this is the time for the viewers to start thinking, provided that the viewers are not disappointed to the extent of throwing their shoes.
But really, what kind of ending of The Taste of Cherry can satisfy the viewer. What are the possibilities? Mr. Badii closes his eyes, and the screen gets dark. Next morning we see the taxidermist. He either finds him dead or alive. If he is alive, taxidermist would probably arrange for something and take him to his house, where he would take proper care of him till Mr. Badii gets all right. Or the second one, he comes and finds him dead. He takes the money, buries him accordingly and gets on with his life. Which one of the two is satisfying for the viewer? Probably none of them, I mean, we can always think of a third or a fourth possibility if we are creative enough, say for example, next morning we see, it is the taxidermist who is laying inside the hole, and get to know that Mr. Badii is a ground-breaking serial killer. Well, that would surely be a compelling Hollywood mambo-jumbo, isn't it?
What is important here is to understand that Mr. Badii wants to commit suicide. His desire of death, his urge to finish his life is important. No matter what the others say, whatever they argue - he is determined. He finds no purpose in living, he Chooses to end it. Whether he successfully dies or not is inconsequential.
Why did he want to commit suicide? A vital question unanswered in the film. Kiarostami did not want to go into this. For him the entire project was more of a spiritual one in nature than psychological. When asked about the speculation that Iranian authorities might stop the film from viewing because it dealt with suicide, Kiarostami said, "There was controversy about the movie, but after I talked with the authorities, they accepted the fact that this is not a movie about suicide-it's about the choice we have in life, to end it whenever we want. We have a door we can open at any time, but we choose to stay The movie is about the possibility of living, and how we have the choice to live. Life isn't forced on us. That's the main theme of the movie."
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