Kiarostami’s Picture Theory: Cinematic Skepticism in The Wind Will Carry Us


For what’s remarkable about Kiarostami’s films is how his relentless problematization of the real, his dogged insistence on the mediality of the image, does not leave us in some Baudrillardian hall of mirrors, or quasi-Derridean free play of significations: if the opening sequence of this film is an example of “intertextuality,” it is not because Kiarostami is spruiking some pop postmodernism. Rather, in problematizating the category of representation in this way, Kiarostami has been able to raise the question of the real in a new and profoundly affecting manner. His repeated attempts at turning our attention to the medium itself, to the very fact of film, do not produce a Verfremdungseffekt. Or if they do, this distancing is bound up with the powers of the films themselves. Note that this is not really paradoxical: my argument is that what Kiarostami shows is how the real can be evoked—or “evidenced,” to use Nancy’s term—precisely by undermining our attachments to the philosophical picture and cinematic frame of representation.

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