Tuesday, October 11, 2011
As poetic as cinema is in itself, it can only be enriched by calling on those who scribe verse as a livelihood. In their 2011 releases, two gifted filmmakers, Abbas Kiarostami and Kenneth Lonergan, have done just that.
In Kiarostami's Certified Copy, a character quotes an Iranian poem in a valiant attempt to win an argument with his beloved. In Margaret, a Victorian era poem (which also inspired the film's title) is recited by a high school teacher while the camera lingers on a distressed girl visibly sinking under the weight of her emotional burden.
The poems within these films share something in common: each references the loss of innocence and the burnishing effect of experience by beautifully evoking the imagery of leaves. The two poems and the two films are all inhabited by a bittersweetness. There is a sense of looking in the rearview mirror at life--a sorrowful undercurrent only comforted by the wisdom wrestled away in trade.
Outside of their lovely incorporation of poems, Kiarostami and Lonergan employ discussions of the arts to explore the meaning of human connections, whether it's the couple in Certified Copy fighting over a sculpture or Margaret's mother and daughter at each other's throats over opera.
As testaments to the power and beauty of the medium of film, Certified Copy and Margaret stubbornly refuse to stop inspiring me. May their poems inspire you:
Spring and Fall
By Gerard Manley Hopkins
To a Young Child
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for
By Mehdi Akhavan Sales
Its sky is embraced tightly
by wet thick coat of clouds.
The leafless garden
is lonely night and day
in a sad innocent silence.
It has rain for an instrument and wind for voice.
Its garment is nakedness,
or if it needs any other garment
it has been woven from golden threads by the wind.
"Let them grow or not grow, anyone anywhere it wants or does not want"
There is not a gardener or a passer-by.
The garden of the hopeless
is not waiting for a spring.
If there is no warm glow in its eyes,
and if no leaf of smile grows on its lips,
who says the leafless garden is not beautiful?
It is telling the story of the hight up in the sky fruits,
which are now buried in the lowly coffin of the soil.
The leafless garden
Its smile is tear and blood.
Forever trotting on its long haired yellow horse in it is,
the king of seasons, Autumn.