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سینمای ایران » نقد و بررسی1402/07/15


Kiarostami & Deleuze: The Path, a Metaphor of a Philosophical Journey

Hamed Soleimanzadeh
Kiarostami & Deleuze: The Path, a Metaphor of a Philosophical Journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

Abbas Kiarostami's modern films feature a movement-image of the path as a narrative and stylistic motif. This article is concerned with a philosophical aspect of Kiarostami's modern cinema by examining what the movement-image of the path is in accordance with Gilles Deleuze's cinematic-philosophical theory. This includes a new interpretation of concepts such as movement, time, and space. By adopting a metaphysical and philosophical perspective, the article argues that the path moves away from a traditional physical concept. By creating the moment along the path, Kiarostami creates a poetic, experimental, and immaterial movement from the material in the image, and therefore, his cinema involves more of the audience in the creation of meaning. In order to comprehend modern cinema, this type of reading of Kiarostami's films is crucial to gaining a more profound understanding of how it transcends clichéd ideas about affect, action, perception, and ratio

Keywords: Abbas Kiarostami; Gilles Deleuze; The Path; Modern Cinema; Film-Philosophy; Movement-Image

 

In the philosophical study of cinema, movement-image is a recurring term, which has been applied many times by different researchers to examine the characteristics of filmmakers' work. Deleuze famously distinguished between movement-image and time-image in his two Cinema books, neither of which represents true motion. It is fabrication and machination rather than a representation that creates movement and time. It is only images that produce real things, the one and only kind of production. A film not only produces real movement and real duration but also affects and is affected by other processes that produce reality (Deleuze & Guattari, 1984, p.32)

         ‘’You cannot reconstitute movement with positions in space or instants in time: that is, with immobile sections [coupes]. You can only achieve this reconstitution by adding to the positions, or to the instants, the abstract idea of succession, of a time that is mechanical, homogeneous, universal, and copied from space, identical for all movements. And thus you miss the movement in two ways. On the one hand, you can bring two instants together or two positions together to infinity; but movement will always occur between the two. … On the other hand, however much you divide and subdivide time, movement will always occur in a concrete duration [durée]. … Hence we oppose two irreducible formulas: ‘real movement ⟶ concrete duration,’ and ‘immobile sections + abstract time.’’ (Deleuze, 1986, p.1)

The movement-image of the path in Kiarostami's modern cinema can act as a philosophical sign that includes movement and time, as an image that expands the perceptual field of the audience in relation to the singular object of the path. The path object serves as a stylistic-narrative motif in Kiarostami's films by paying attention to its physical and metaphorical space. In Kiarostami's modern cinema, movement-image is used to replace classical cinema's action-image concept as a narrative and stylistic component. Classical cinema often derives its organic form from the active montage. The use of Any-Instant-Whatever in classical cinema creates a dialectic between image and action (Deleuze, 1986, p.34). There is a definite relationship between the time and place of occurrence and these instants. Any-Instant-whatever is equally spaced together, which relationship is controlled by the active montage process. After World War II, this process does not play a significant role in shaping modern cinema; in other words, neutral action takes precedence in modern cinema. Modern cinema does not treat time as a function of action, but rather as a way of making time itself apparent

As Kiarostami's cinema connects perceptions, impressions, and agency, the movement-image of the path creates a new encounter with a time that ignores linear and sequential events. Kiarostami creates moments in his works that Deleuze calls privileged instants; instants that belong to a whole movement and form (Marrati, 2008, p.41). In Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997), a middle-aged man named Badiei asks strangers to help him commit suicide while driving around Tehran. He plans to take sleeping pills and lie down on a hillside to die. His last wish is for someone to sprinkle dirt on his lifeless body tomorrow morning, or if he is still alive, to help him out.Throughout Badiei's conversations with the people he meets on his journey, the nature of the original plan is revealed bit by bit and in the usual manner of Kiarostami's works.Throughout this film, Badiei's dialogues with other characters create privileged instants, which, depending on their content and philosophical load, serve a general, transtemporal, and transspatial idea

The path is not just a type of traveled space, but an indivisible whole that belongs to the present

By intelligently distorting narrative, action, and hero, Kiarostami's modern cinema portrays the image of a modern human on a path without knowing its end or destination. Searching for self-knowledge is generally part of this process. Qassem in The Traveler (Abbas Kiarostami, 1974), the boy in Where is the Friend's House? (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987), the father in And Life Goes On (Abbas Kiarostami, 1992), Hossein in Through the Olive Trees (Abbas Kiarostami, 1994), Badiei in Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997), and the woman in Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002) are all examples of such characters. Despite not knowing the future or the past, Kiarostami's modern characters move along a path containing ontological, epistemological, and ultimately philosophical questions. It is generally believed that these questions are a mystery regarding the identity of humans, which requires a thorough understanding of their spatial and temporal situation in order to be solved

Kiarostami & Deleuze: The Path, a Metaphor of a Philosophical Journey

 On the path, movements occur in time and place but no longer form a certain and definite time and place. Kiarostami's cinema illustrates this point in the performance of the characters in the movement-image of the path. As a result, they do not have the ability to respond definitively to various situations, and they become more of a listener or spectator than an actor, so action loses its traditional role of describing time and place definitively. In Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997), Badiei does not react to the words of Mr. Bagheri. Badiei passively listens to Bagheri's words about nature's beauty as a sign of life

A key pillar of classical cinema's action execution is the hero's agency, but in Kiarostami's modern cinema, the concept of agency takes on a completely new meaning and form. Characters in classic cinema have clearly defined traits, and the classic narrative clearly defines the traits of the characters. These characters are active and goal-oriented and are ready to face obstacles to achieve their goals (Monaco, 2009, p.64). Unlike the classic hero, an ordinary person represents the action of a modern hero because the hero's agency now relies on their own person and problems. In such characters’ daily lives, the meaning of life is reflected in their thinking

According to Deleuze, modern cinema's most important content is an invitation to think. The way we think in modern cinema is interactive and fluid, without definitive answers. It is through this perception that the cinematic image can be applied in its field of thought; it means creating doubt in thought, which forces us to think about ourselves and about the general matter and creates an automatic mental mechanism within us that has emerged and developed as a result of the movement of images (Deleuze, 1989, p.30)

The movement-image as a formal element in modern cinema is a consciousness in itself that must be known and thought about; As a result of this principle, the movement-image of the path provides a platform for contemplating the most profound philosophical questions about birth, death, life, and the hereafter

With Kiarostami's films, deeper layers of reality are created in the physical realm, which is far from classical improvisation and is philosophical in nature. It is a whole thing that changes over time and is more related to time and spirit than to space and content. In Kiarostami's modern cinema, this realist feature shifts the boundaries of defining documentary and fiction, since we're unsure whether the reality in his films is fictitious and imaginary or objective and precise

 Moving along the path causes a qualitative change or pure becoming of the object or substance. In Kiarostami's works, the path serves as a platform for movement to bring being to becoming and to transform quality by ignoring metrics that are fixed. This is the Deleuzian understanding of pure becoming that affirms the positivity of difference. By taking the path, Kiarostami's characters are always evolving. The process of transformation and renewal, as well as going from one state to another, is inevitable for them from this perspective. In a scene from The wind will carry us (Abbas Kiarostami, 1999), Behzad and a village doctor ride a motorcycle through a wheat field and discuss death. The evolution of Behzad's thinking in dealing with death is evident along the path and according to his questions. By facing death philosophically, Behzad has gained an awareness of its philosophical dimension. The metaphorical nature of the path is evident here

Deleuze viewed cinema as the embodiment of the world, which includes the soul as well. Due to this, cinema is not only mechanical and organic, but also serves as a spatiotemporal characteristic in the process of the world becoming: space (frame), movement (plan), and time (montage) (Montebello, 2008, p.101). Hence, the cineaste as a philosopher is like a creator who creates the world through the combination of space, movement, and time

From a formal standpoint, frames play an important role in analyzing the movement-image of the path that has a figurative significance in Kiarostami's films. In an image, framing defines the set of elements (such as props, characters, etc.). Space is the first aspect of framing. In a similar manner to the construction of the world, the frame allocates space before placing the components in it. As well as creating external boundaries, the frame organizes the interior space with geometric lines that pressurize it from the inside as well

According to Deleuze, the function of the frame is to create space physically. In general, the frame consists of an internal space and an external space. The term out of frame in cinema refers to something that is not framed (what we are unable to see or hear), but nevertheless indicates its presence and the possibility that it can be replaced with something else within the frame. In cinema, an image that is not included within the frame is always inferred as part of a larger set, despite its limitations. As the visual thing in the cinema does not have a definitive end, the outside of the frame indicates this. There is always an exterior to the frame, which is represented by the same images of the past and outer spaces, which is exactly when the changes are taking place in time. When we pay attention to the space outside the frame, we are interpreting and observing the new relationships between things, not just what has happened or what will occur in the future. A cinematic frame is a surface on which audio and visual data are recorded, and when it has a tendency towards rarefaction, it takes on a philosophical nature. This type of frame can be found in the works of Yasujiro Ozu, whose Kiarostami was heavily influenced by his aesthetics. Generally, in Ozu's films, the camera remains stationary. With Ozu's centrifugal and lonely frames, the reality inside and outside the frame are always taken into consideration, so the viewer has more space to interpret what is inside the frame (Schrader, 2018, p. 37). There are many frames in Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953) with few but expressive objects that facilitate the flow of the narrative.The frames made from the path in Kiarostami's works are extremely quiet and the quantity of objects is minimized in order to provide some kind of space to focus on the reading of the path; as a matter of fact, it is more important to read than to see the movement-image of the path. In his approach to framing, Kiarostami creates an entirely new form of a geometric frame that goes beyond the criteria of a physical frame in commercial cinema

Kiarostami & Deleuze: The Path, a Metaphor of a Philosophical Journey According to Deleuze, the geometric frame defines the semantic limit of an object beyond what is visible within the frame; in other words, the geometric frame determines the boundary of a frame before its objects enter it (Deleuze, 1986. p.52). In Kiarostami's films, path frames take on a variety of graphic shapes, including diagonal, parallel, and zigzag lines. The concept of the path takes on different forms thanks to this visual variety, which creates a meaning that has many layers. A good example of this is the zigzag path in Where is the Friend's House? (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987). A boy has to go through the zigzag path in order to find his friend's house. In addition, the path frame focuses attention on what's beyond it. The first scene of Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997) shows Badiei driving, and from the sound outside the frame, we understand he went to the place where the daily workers live. This sound is proof of something that cannot be seen but is happening. There are people who are not seen but are present. Taking a look at the world outside the frame along the path can help us extend the meaning of the path to objects outside the frame that we cannot see. So here, the path represents all the ways of life we have experienced or will experience in the future. The same type of framing can also be found in Roads of Kiarostami (Abbas Kiarostami, 2006). By reading Persian text and poems on road photographs, Kiarostami creates a modern, experimental and unconventional view of the path; A view that does not focus on the end in terms of content and form; This is how Kiarostami's cinema is characterized as modern experimental cinema, since it represents an inversion of narrative and perception

Kiarostami's films are very similar to those of Italian neorealists like Michelangelo Antonioni in their directing style. Neorealism was a cinematic movement that developed during World War II in Italy and was based on a number of main principles: Emphasizing the use of natural locations and the closeness of the narrative to the current reality of society, documentary filming, non-actors, designing non-studio mise-en-scene in closed spaces, emphasizing the use of long-take shots are among the most important principles of Italian neorealism (Ismail, 2018, p.20). The long-take shot style is generally Kiarostami's preference. Long-take shots have a longer material duration than short-take shots. The long shots we see in Kiarostami's films are fixed in a whole, that is, there is no way to divide the movement because it is connected to a whole. All parts and objects of the path he describes work together to form an indivisible, unknown, and vast whole

The cut point in the movement-image of the path in Kiarostami's works is generally a few seconds after the moving object leaves. As the audience watches each frame, they have time to reflect and interpret what they have just seen. In Kiarostami's films, the encounter with montage itself is one of the modern attitudes and creates a break for the audience to experience the process of perception. In montage, the director selects and adapts images, cuts and grafts them together, and makes sure that throughout the film, the motion images are arranged in such a manner that something is happening, the images change shape, and a qualitative transformation occurs. The film is not only a combination of images that are visible, but also a reproduction of the whole idea that cannot be seen, but which allows for continual change in the images. Because of this, despite the fact that everything in the film is evident, the montage is imperceptible, and the audience sees continuity and sequence of shots, but not the whole idea. This is the same element, which Deleuze considers to be responsible for creating the indirect image of time, that it sees the image but does not see time. Most of Kiarostami's works demonstrate this approach to montage, especially in Five (Abbas Kiarostami, 2003). There are five shots in this film, each of which lasts approximately sixteen minutes. The images in this collection are the result of looking at a moment in nature. The objects in the frames provide insight into the idea of the path over time by examining the shots. In the first shot, a piece of wood is seen reaching the shore and returning to the sea after being struck by a wave. In the second shot, some people are walking along the beach and conversing with one another. The third shot shows some dogs gathered by the sea. There are times when they walk and other times when they sit. In the fourth shot, a number of ducks enter and exit the frame on the beach. The last shot shows the moon with a cloudy sky falling on a pond while frogs are heard. These shots depict an indirect image of time, something that has passed, but we do not know how or for what purpose; As a result of relying on long exposures and not using montage in a conventional manner, this principle is demonstrated

Since the path never ends when it is taken, the movement-image of the path is following-matter; This term refers to a general flow of matter, which does not include reproduction or repetition. While reproduction is dependent on specific time and place, following-matter attempts to process a different notion than search. Rather than describing the movement moment-by-moment, we go along with following-matter to gain a better understanding. It is at this point that a person stops following a fixed path of thought and submits to a flow that is guided by the material contained within the image. Accordingly, Kiarostami uses the path as a following-matter in his works in order to invite the audience to participate in the idea behind the image and accompany it. The event creates participation in the creation of the movement-image of the path and establishes a non-verbal dialogue between the viewer and the object. In a scene from The wind will carry us (Abbas Kiarostami, 1999), the camera observes an apple falling into a stream for a number of minutes. A key aspect of this scene is the purpose of the matter and the path it takes to create a flow of participation between the audience and the subject matter. Although the audience is unaware of where the apple is headed, what is important is to reflect on the object that becomes an object of reflection during the path

Kiarostami's path is an object sign, which means it has a relationship between matter (the physical effect of the path) and memory (the metaphysical effect of the path).In a scene from Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997), Badiei is driving along a dirt road, and we see soldiers marching past his car ahead (the physical effect of the path). According to Badiei's dialogues, we learn that the best memories of his life relate to his military service days (the metaphysical effect of the path), so here a meaningful relationship is established between the path as a material and its memory basis

 A modern form is created by the combination of speech and image in Kiarostami's work. The speech in his cinema often relies on another expression; for example, quoting from a famous poet or retelling a memory. He uses speech in his cinema, whether it is narration or dialogue, to develop modern approaches to the personalities of his characters. It can be said that every character in his films has a directed awareness focused on life and death, in other words, a fluid perception of life and death. A scene in Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997) shows this characteristic of Kiarostami's modern cinema with the words of Mr. Bagheri

  ‘’I'll tell you something that happened to me. It was just after I got married. We had all kinds of troubles. I was so fed up with it that I decided to end it all. One morning, before dawn, I put a rope in my car. My mind was made up. I wanted to kill myself. I set off for Mianeh. This was in 1960. I reached the mulberry tree plantations. I stopped there. It was still dark. I threw the rope over a tree but it didn't catch hold. I tried once, twice but to no avail. So then I climbed the tree and tied the rope on tight. Then I felt something soft under my hand. Mulberries. Deliciously sweet mulberries. I ate one. It was succulent, then a second and third. Suddenly, I noticed that the sun was rising over the mountaintop [...] What sun, what scenery, what greenery! All of a sudden, I heard children heading off to school. They stopped to look at me. They asked me to shake the tree. The mulberries fell and they ate. I felt happy. Then I gathered some mulberries to take them home. My wife was still sleeping. When she woke up, she ate mulberries as well. And she enjoyed them too. I had left to kill myself and I came back with mulberries. A mulberry saved my life ‘‘ (Kiarostami, 1997). Kiarostami's films always depict characters deteriorating along the path from the perspective of characterization. In order to gain liberation, they have to give up possessions. As a result of this deterioration, a driving impulse is generated. At the core of this impulse is the desire to escape a repulsive or disgusting environment and discover a new one. This transformative impulse is visualized as a path in Kiarostami's works, sometimes upwards, sometimes downwards

There is a lot of importance in a narrative perspective to the issue of choices along the path. There are many existentialist philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard who emphasize choice. Rather than relying on generality and external criteria, he believes that people create their nature through their choices. It is only possible to determine the value of a choice on an individual basis (Anderson, 1999, p. 37). The existence of man precedes his/her nature, it is determined by him/her rather than predetermined. Choosing makes the person who S/he is, and S/he must be responsible for all of his/her choices. This is, of course, a painful and exhausting responsibility. When we realize that we are free to do whatever we want and be whatever we want, it is often difficult to bear. We feel anxiety and pain because we know that everything depends on us. People only make choices when they convince themselves that there is no other option, sometimes as a result of moral necessity (well-being, right), sometimes as a result of physical necessity (state of things, situation), and sometimes as a result of psychological necessity (an individual's desire to obtain something (B. Barnett, 2016, p.173). In Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997), Badiei makes all three choices along the path. He believes he has no choice but to remove himself from the world (moral) in a special situation (sleeping in the grave) to determine his desire to die (psychological). By choosing the path, a person realizes self through ego and plays his/her moral, situational, and psychological aspects

Kiarostami & Deleuze: The Path, a Metaphor of a Philosophical JourneyThe path can be seen as a photogeny in which aesthetic quality does not matter, but the difference between cinematic and photographic images does. Using cinematic images can express feelings indirectly by awakening them due to their anti-media property (Abel, 1993, p. 202). As a result of the photogeny present in the movement-image of the path, Kiarostami's cinema always creates a new sensation for the viewer depending on the object being viewed. Through this foundational quality, the audience has access to a world beyond their everyday experience. Philosophically, a photograph is a record of an event that happened in the past (I was here), and a cinematic image is a stream of the present moment (I am here). There are two ways to process the present on the path: relative movement (moving from point to point) and absolute movement (philosophical movement along the spirit of the whole). Photographs are moments that are located in a certain place at a certain time, whereas cinematic images are transtemporal and trans-spatial, and they are therefore conceptually based

As the mother's sign in Kiarostami's cinema, the movement-image of the path has subsets such as affect-image, action-image,  perception-image, and ratio-image

Affect-image of the path

In the distance between input perceptions and output actions, affect-image exists as a pure and refined feeling. In the case where an external stimulus triggers an action-reaction, the affect occurs somewhere between the stimulus and the reaction and expresses qualities, intensities, and potential forces

 Affect, unlike perception, depends on the inside; A type of feeling that is not a reaction or representation, but rather something that exists in and for itself. An affect-image means the same thing as a quality or power; it is a capability or potential that is considered as such when it is expressed (Deleuze, 1986, p. 151). It can become the same as pain, suffering, joy when it reaches the actuality field, but the affect is present before this stage. A stage of intuition consists of a quality of potential that has never been realized but is expressed by affect-image

The use of close-up is one way in which affect-image is represented in decoupage. A close-up flattens the image, freeing it from temporal-spatial dependencies and even socio-cultural codes, making it more powerful and expressive of an affect-image quality. Using a close-up, Deleuze deterritorializes the face and separates it from its three contractual functions: 1. Individualizing characters (differentiating them from each other), 2.Socializing (establishing a social role), and 3. The function of communication (not only between people, but also between him/her and himself/herself, such as matching his/her personality with his/her role) (Del Rio, 2012, p.73). Philosophically, close-ups reflect a kind of visual unity in the expression of the driving idea in the actions and non-verbal reactions of the actors. A number of close-up shots are used in Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997) to convey the contagion of the central idea of the narrative, which is a suicide, and how it affects the characters, including Badiei, a soldier, a mullah, and a museum worker. We can see the impact of the narrative on the faces of the actors in Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008), which features more than 90 female actors. In the film, there are no monologues or dialogues, just silence, with Nizami Ganjavi's poems (1141-1209) about Khosrow and Shirin playing in the background. The actor's body is summarized in her face with close-ups in this film.In Kiarostami's cinema, visage is seen in the faces of the actors and is envisioned as a path. The faces, however, convey the path's passion. Through the narrative, they attempt to find an answer to the story's questions. By focusing on such a feature, a close-up can convey a sense of the essence or entity of the path in Kiarostami's cinema. In Kiarostami's films, pure affects on actors' faces are considered unlocable and have no connection to a particular space. Individuality has been suspended in faces due to the loss of communication abilities and the loss of adaptability to social situations. A common feature of affect-image and movement-image is that they both contain indivisible emotions that cannot be separated

In Kiarostami's cinema, actors and non-actors are generally unmade-up and natural. Despite the fact that faces are unique to each person, they can sometimes be interpreted as signs of general impressions of existence. Faces on paths convey the complexity of what is being expressed. The characters in Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997) sometimes show their support or lack of support by turning their faces into or away from Badiei as he asks them to assist him with his suicide attempt; similar to the soldier who turned away from Badiei to show no support, and the museum worker who turned towards Badiei to show support. Turning away or turning to the face expresses strength and weakness of the emotion and tolerance or intolerance of the affect along the path

 

Action-image of the path

Action-image is the type of movement-image that is most dependent on realism. According to Deleuze, the two aspects of realism are specific geographical-historical environments and behavioral methods, and the relationship between these two aspects is action-image. At first, we are facing a specific territory, such as a plain or a large desert. This realm encompasses everything and acts as an all-encompassing atmosphere. Secondly, realism is created as a behavior that responds to the environment (Rashton, 2013, p.83). As in action-image, the environment is not simply a place that is empty, but rather a space-time that is defined by all its social-historical belongings, including other people and their relationships. As a result of the action, the environment is affected and a new situation is created. The big form, following Noël Burch's term, is only one of action-image forms defined by Deleuze. Alternatively, there is a form of action-image in which we are not faced with the transformation of the environment that the action mediates, but the situation is determined by the action, which in turn leads to another action. In this case, it is the action that reveals the situation. In Kiarostami's films, actions along the path represent the complex situations in which his characters find themselves. The father in And Life Goes On (Abbas Kiarostami, 1992) seeks a sign of life and reinforces the idea of turning a difficult situation into a hopeful one by doing the act of questioning and passing through winding roads destroyed by the earthquake. The action in the film infers the situation about the fate of the two children in this minimal and widespread form of the question. It is an event that unfolds its path from an initial action to a situation and then to the action that follows it

The sign of action-image in small form is called Index by Deleuze. In indexical signs, form and meaning are inextricably linked. The index reveals a hidden meaning to the text, so it gives it an implicit meaning (Ehrat SJ, 2004, p.91). It is a sign based on the existential connection between self and object. There are two types of indexes, the first of which is the Index of Lack, which refers to situations that are not anticipated but are revealed through the characters' actions. Kiarostami's works reflect the act of searching through lack, the literal meaning of the path index. The sign creates an impression of multi-stage space perception for the audience. Throughout Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997), we don't know what circumstances Badiei will face in line with his goal, and we follow him on his quest to find an answer. The act of searching reveals unknown situations to Badiei

The Index of equivocation is the second form. There are two simultaneous situations created by a two-sided action. There are two situations that the viewer gets confused about by deducing them as the real situation. It is unclear to us what Hossein says to the girl in the final scene of Through the Olive Trees (Abbas Kiarostami, 1994), but with the ambiguity of the conversation between the two, we can vaguely understand the final situation, emphasizing the aimlessness of the relationship between them

There is a keyword called zero latitude in Deleuze's literature. A narrative shift occurs when zero latitude prevents an event from occurring at a specific location. While the physical path always has the destination as an expected event, Kiarostami's works remove the destination to give the focus to the present and this zero latitude takes on a philosophical significance. The world of action-image is a world of impulse. The difference between an impulse and an emotion is that an impulse has an internal effect, not an external expression (Bogue, 2003, p. 75). The movement-images of the path have an internal effect on the audience and affect them unconsciously like impulses. In Kiarostami's cinema, the path is an impulse. The impulse, although limited in physical frames, captures the essence of his philosophical vision. It is one of the most important realistic features of Kiarostami's cinema, which is reflected in all of his works, to create a territory, which emphasizes its independence. A territory, in his realist perspective, can be an embodiment of the power that the environment as a whole is valid as a primary realm. A story or a dream is not ignored here but explained in all kinds of situations. There is a special ambiance created by the environment in the territory of the path. As a central action-image, this constructive ambiance expresses the dialectic between the person and the environment, others and himself, expressing the dialectic between the person and the surroundings

In Kiarostami's modern cinema, moving from one state to another without relying on defined time and place is another function of the path. Since behavior is an action that moves from one situation to another, action-image inspires behavior cinema. There is an attempt to modify and change the action-image to the first situation in order to establish a new one. A path has an endless process that sometimes distinguishes two points within an interval as if they belong to two fundamentally different worlds (Deleuze, 1989, p. 11). Moment-focused and unpredictable situations are represented by these two points. In And Life Goes On (Abbas Kiarostami, 1992), a father and son search for Babak and Ahmad Ahmadpour, the actors of Where is My Friend's House? (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987). Traffic jams force them to take various side roads to reach Koker village, where the boys live. In the end, the father and son do not see Babak and Ahmad, but they learn about their health. This work by Kiarostami shows the narrative-realistic role of the path in the behavioral evolution of the film through a detailed illustration of its transition from the first situation (not hearing about Babak and Ahmad) to the second situation (knowing about Babak and Ahmad's health)

Kiarostami & Deleuze: The Path, a Metaphor of a Philosophical Journey

 

Perception-image of the path

According to Deleuze, perception-image does not simply oscillate between subjective and objective poles, but also indicates a kind of aesthetic form connected to camera self-awareness. In Bergson's sense, Deleuze speaks of another form of perception which places the perception of the self in objects. A form that creates a fluid perception around a central object (Rodowick, 2010, p.80). Rather than seeing images in sequence, this type of perception is based on simultaneity and symmetry

The movement-image of the path in Kiarostami's works allows the audience to have a fluid perception, in that they perceive multiple layers of the path and adds depth to his understanding of it. Due to the hidden origin and destination of the path, this understanding is relative and uncertain. There is a philosophical burden associated with perception because it is fluid, complex, and slippery. Despite changing the conventional meaning of displacement, this form of perception remains dependent on movement to be meaningful. Since Kiarostami's films try to show the unknown aspects of existence through complex characters, moving along the path can be considered a psychoanalytic process. As a result of this movement, perception is also a psychological understanding, which makes this movement fluid and complex. A scene in Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997) shows this characteristic with the words of Badiei along the path

 ‘’ It wouldn't help you to know and I can't talk about it and you wouldn't understand. It's not because you don't understand but you can't feel what I feel. You can sympathize, understand, and show compassion. But feel my pain? No. You suffer and so do I. I understand you. You comprehend my pain, but you can't feel it‘‘ (Kiarostami, 1997). When the audience hears such words, they face a cognitive-philosophical load that challenges their previous perceptions and makes the process of understanding fluid for them

Situationally, the path is a kind of wandering and patrolling situation, which signals the emergence of pure auditory and visual situations. The act of wandering involves establishing a pattern of relationships with others and space in order to identify the object of the path. Wanderers are hidden observers of landscapes, spaces, and places. Basically, wandering is a way of finding things to complete one's incomplete identity, satisfy one's unhappy existence, and replace courage with fear (Tester, 1994, p.98). Faced with space and time, a wanderer's method is unpredictable. Passing, lingering, looking around, and thinking are his/her main activities. As a result of passing, a person comes into direct contact with new places and people. A wanderer opens the face of a lonely person. The lonely person in the crowd who still wants to build a relationship. Observation creates a unique quality of perception along the path of wandering. Kiarostami's modern cinema portrays wandering characters, such as Badiei in Taste of Cherry (1997), father in  And Life Goes On (Abbas Kiarostami, 1992), and Behzad in Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami, 1999). In Kiarostami's cinema, wanderers attempt to make sense of the external environment, which is strange and unknown to them, regardless of time or place. As wanderers, they are motivated by a desire for knowledge. The ability to know oneself, the other, and the path itself

 

Ratio-image of the path

More than any other type of movement-image, ratio-image relies on Peirce's semiotics. According to Peirce, all thoughts are based on the sign, so the life of any science and even communication between people depends on it. Peirce believed that signs have the potential to signify their subject in three different ways: through a relationship of similarity, a relationship of contextual proximity, or a relationship of law (Crow, 2018, p. 66). Signs that are similar to the thing they intend to represent are called icons in the first mode of signification. A personal photo, for instance, is an iconic sign of that person. During the second mode of signification, the sign is called an index. There is a direct connection between indexical signs and their subjects through physical means, so they are not arbitrary. Like smoke, which is an indexical sign of fire. A sign is called a symbol in the third mode of signification. As opposed to other types of signs, symbols are not the same as their subjects but refer to them by arbitrary or contractual relationships. There is actually a similarity between ratio-image and Peirce's third mode. Law, continuity, habit, and rule are the characteristics of Peirce's third mode. The third mode establishes a mental and abstract relationship between the sign bearer, the subject, and the interpreter. Chaos is pulled into regularity by this mode. Ratio-image turns any object into a symbolic sign that refers to a mental totality in general understanding and rule. To provide a sign for the formation of mental relations, Deleuze introduces the ratio-image as a symbol after Peirce

Kiarostami's modern cinema is full of ratios and rules to discover. As a whole, Kiarostami's cinema relates every action, every affect, and every image to a symbolic meaning. The symbolic whole begins with the confusion and vertigo of human relationships with each other, the environment, and themselves, and changes along the path. There is a change in ratios and relationships that enables a regular whole to be established. Two ways are often used by Kiarostami to construct this whole in his films. The first is a chain of elements that follow a natural sequence. For example, Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997), Roads of Kiarostami (Abbas Kiarostami, 2005), And Life Goes ON (Abbas Kiarostami, 1992) and Where is the Friend's House? (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987) show paths with different geometrical shapes.  All images of paths follow one after another in a particular sequence to discover the secret of the search. But sometimes, in the middle of the path, factors challenge its symbolic role. Like the bumps in the path of Badiei's car in Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997) or having to choose between two paths. This ratio-image of the path keeps the questioning of the object alive during its passage and gives it a philosophical quality

Secondly, Kiarostami uses a combination of stills and moving images to create a unique minimalism in his films, emphasizing the path's essence. 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017) illustrates Kiarostami's style of filmmaking which culminated in undiluted minimalism. It begins with Pieter Bruegel the Elder's oil-on-wood painting Hunters in the Snow, depicting hunters with their hounds trudging through the snow as they return home. 24 Frames is composed of twenty-four short fragmented films that restore Bruegel's painting to motion while accentuating a flow between the visible inside and invisible outside of the frame. As Kiarostami's first frame, Bruegel's oil painting provides no points of orientation. Without any anchorage within the frame to direct our gaze or provide hints as to what is central and marginal in regard to hierarchy, we feel a vague sense of non-belonging. In this context, Peretz explains that a frame is not a device that separates what it contains from what is outside it. As opposed to creating a sense of inclusion, the artistic frame actually creates a sense of non-belonging, of not being a part of any given order, and challenges a symbolic whole (Peretz, 2017, p.33). In most frames, the absence of premediated meaning is highlighted by the absence of dialogue and the spontaneous movements of animals that play an indispensable role in animating the images. Crows caw intermittently, cows pass by, horses prance, clouds move through the sky, wind howls, trees shake, and snowflakes fall gracefully throughout. In Kiarostami's film, a tension between the static and the moving binds all the frames together. A matrix from which animals and humans emerge, 24 Frames infuses static images with life and restores archival images to motion. In 24 Frames, the direction of averted looks toward the outside, the angles of the frames, and the movements of animals from the inside to the outside must all be taken into account when establishing a continuity between the on- and off-screen space. By decentering, angles emphasize the off-screen space. The frames in 24 Frames call up a beyond from which the next image emerges. Kiarostami's modern cinema cannot distinguish between potentiality and impotence, reality and fiction, motion and stillness. As expected, we cannot determine what has been added to each frame and what has been left unchanged. Ratio-image as symbolic movement-image shows how Kiarostami's frames can carry philosophy itself, not something as philosophy

 

Bibliography

Abel, Richard. (1993). French Film Theory and Criticism: A History/Anthology.Volume 1. Princeton Univerity Press

Anderson, Susan Leigh. (1999). On Kierkegaard. Wadsworth Publishing

B. Barnett, Christopher. (2016). Kierkegaard, Pietism & Holiness. Routledge

Bouge, Ronald. (2003). Deleuze on Cinema. Routledge

Crow, David. (2018). Visible Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics in the Visual Arts. Bloomsbury Visual Arts Press

Colman, Felicity. (2011). Deleuze & Cinema: The Film Concepts. Berg Publishers

Deleuze, Gilles. (1986). Cinema 1: The Movment-Image. (H. Tomlinson & R. Galeta. Trans.). The University of Minnesota Press

Deleuze, Gilles. (1989). Cinema 2:  The Time- Image. (H. Tomlinson & R. Galeta. Trans.). The University of Minnesota Press

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1984). Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Columbia University Press

Del Rio, Elena. (2012). Deleuze & the Cinema of Performance. Edinburg University Press

Ehrats, P. Johannes. (2004). Cinema & Semiotic: Pierce & Film Aesthetics, Narration & Representation. The University of Toronto Press

Ismail, Mohammed. (2018). Neorealist Revival in Iranian Cinema: Neorealist Elements in Abbas Kiarostami’s Where is My Friend’s House?. Grin Verlag

Marrati, Paolo. (2008). Gilles Deleuze, Cinema & Philosophy. (A. Hartz. Trans.). Johns Hopkins University Press

Monaco, James. (2009). How to Read a Film: Movies, Media & Beyond: Art, Technology, Language, History, Theory. Oxford University Press

Motebello, Pierre. (2008). Deleuze, Philosophie Et Cinema. VRIN Press

Peretz, Eyal. (2017). The Off-Screen: An Investigation of the Cinematic Frame.Stanford University Press

Rushton, Richard. (2013). The Reality of Film: Theories of Filmic Reality. Manchester University Press

Rodowick, D.N. (2010). Afterimages of Gilles Deleuze’s Film Philosophy. The University of Minnesota Press

Schrader, Paul. (2018). Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer. The University of California Press

Tester, Keith. (1994). Media, Culture & Morality. Routledge

 

Hamed Soleimanzadeh

 Dr. Hamed Soleimanzadeh is a film philosopher, film critic, filmmaker, researcher, and university lecturer, and he is currently an Einstein Junior Fellow at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK)

 

 

[FIlm Magazin]

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