The Kiarostami Silence
By silencing some aspects of the multi dimensional experience of his films, Abbas Kiarostami’s use of silence both drives his audience to complete the film through a ‘a deliberate distancing effect’, and shows a philosophy that considers truth as more of a pluralistic concept rather than a definite existence.
Then how much does Kiarostami actually use silence? The following is his film Taste of Cherry (1995) divided into silence* vs dialogue quantified minutes. The main three conversations of the film are alternated with long and significant periods of silence - an invitation for the viewer to step back and reflect - that give Taste of Cherry it’s slow and serious tempo.
Silence 08' 14"
Dialogue 17' 35"
Silence 06' 42"
Dialogue 16' 09"
Silence 05' 46"
Dialogue 15' 08"
Silence 06' 06"
Dialogue 01' 00"
Silence 10' 24"
The total Dialogue reaches 48' 52" compared with total Silence 37' 12".
Kiarostami’s main strategy for acheiving his goal of taking any special weight off the role of the filmmaker, is exploiting an extensive use of meta-silence, derived from an essentialist view towards art which aims for reaching the authenticity of the artistic essence of each form. In other words, Kiarostami is always obsessed with the question “what is art?” and to answer that, he engages in subtracting different elements of each art form (poetry, photography, cinema) to extract the residue in the end.
Silence here means only vocal silences — simply scenes without speech. This does not even attempt to discern the different nuances of eloquent silences — gaps, pauses, distractions, hesitations, because the above seems pointless enough.