Five (2003)

‘Five’, directed by Abbas Kiarostami in 2003, is an Iranian conceptual movie.  The film contains no dialogue, no characters and no plot. Kiarostami sets a DV camera at five locations, each by the sea, and films for fifteen minutes. The camera is static so the only movement is of the landscape, animals and occasional humans within the frame. Each film is divided by a piece of music, but aside from this the soundtrack is breaking waves and birds. It’s a difficult film to understand, mainly due to the lack of material to hang a criticism on, but after a while themes reveal themselves, and even a tonal progression throughout the films. The middle three movies focus on the sea, with the land, sea and sky breaking the frame horizontally with varying ratios. The film is dedicated to Yasujirō Ozu, the Japanese director of ‘Tokyo Story’, and his influence is evident in the stillness of the camera and the neatness of the framing. The final film is in darkness, the camera focusing on water which is only revealed during a lightning storm. This is, in essence, the climax of the film – the first movie in the sequence featuring  breaking waves but otherwise empty, the middle three gradually featuring the encroachment of life (both human and animal) and the final showing an absence again, but this time with an almost apocalyptic edge. There’s a hypnotic feeling to this film. Unlike the Robinson films, such as ‘Robinson in Ruins’, there is no explanatory voice over – just nature and emptiness.

Would I recommend it? Possibly not – it is short at 70 minutes, which helps you to focus on the image, but it isn’t the most accessible of films. Watch, if you wish, in a double bill with ‘Robinson in Ruins’.


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