Sometimes you really just have to appreciate the artistry of it all…
While the last film of any cinematic icon, much less the one the likes of Abbas Kiarostami deserves to be reveled and celebrated from the highest peak in as loud a fashion as possible, however that’s not what 24 Frames is all about, and it kind of fits this the meld of this fantastic storyteller to a tee.
For his final film (which of course he didn’t intend on being his final film) Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami decided to give himself a challenge. To create a genuine dialogue between his work as a filmmaker and his work as a photographer; deciding to create a bridge between the two art forms to which he had dedicated his life. Setting out to reconstruct the moments immediately before and after a photograph is taken, Kiarostami selected twenty four still images; most of them stark landscapes inhabited by only foraging birds and other random wildlife and digitally animated each one into its own subtly evolving four and a half minute vignette creating a series of studies in movement and perception of the moving image.
It’s kind of fitting that the final effort from a filmmaker so beloved an influential on the global cinema scene made something as unique and exceptionally critic proof in 24 Frames. (Editor’s note: We’ll try anyway)
While this could easily play in a museum in an installation piece or even in the lobby of a very over priced office building, 24 Frames forces us to pay attention to the use of movement inside the frame. There’s never a wasted instance and it feels uniquely appropriate that this master of humanistic cinema gave us a film that is basically all animated.
And while we do admittedly have to admit that this certainly isn’t a film for your average cinema lover as it demands a great deal of patience and understanding, it rewards all who are ready to embrace the experimental but very natural nature of the piece as a whole.
In each frame we get these silent but incredibly magnetic reflections on the human condition. It could be cows on a beach, tourists at the Eiffel Tower, Lions mating or pigeons on the sidewalk. It’s never really about what we as an audience are looking at, but rather HOW we are actually looking at it. Ultimately it’s all a slow grab but really works as an artistic commentary even with its oblique and slightly confusing moments to it all.
Fresh off a 2K Digital Master with a 5.1 surround DTS-HD Audio mix this might be the very first film that Kiarostami designed to watch as large and as loud as possible. The special features include an interesting interview with Abbas Kiarostami’s son Ahmed who helped to finish the film after his father’s death and really gave some insight into the man as an artist in a short interview. There’s also an enlightening conversation between film scholar Jamsheed Akrami and film critic Godfrey Schesire on how this film places in the career canon of Kiarostami (and other things). Plus there’s a short behind the scenes documentary by frequent collaborator Salma Monshizadeh and as essay from film critic Blige Ebiri.
What I think I really appreciated the most about 24 Frames; even down to the special features in this Blu-Ray release is that he lets the images do the talking and really leaves any active interpretation down to the audiences that are witnessing them.
It’s the essence of art as a whole and while it does feel a little simplistic at times, that’s what makes it a brilliant little nod to the gods of the artistry of the moving image and a fitting swan song for one of the very best to ever go behind a camera.
- Directed by: Abbas Kiarostami