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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Widescreen
  • Farsi Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Rare interview with filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami by Iranian film scholar Dr. Jamsheed Akrami
  • Kiarostami feature filmography

Taste of Cherry


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolhossein Bagheri, Afshin Bakhtiari, Ali Moradi, Hossein Noori, Ahmad Ansari, Hamid Massomi, Elham Imani
1997 | 95 Minutes | Licensor: Zeitgeist Films

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #45
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: June 1, 1999
Review Date: March 25, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry is an emotionally complex meditation on life and death. Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the hilly outskirts of Tehran-searching for someone to rescue or bury him. Criterion is proud to present the DVD premiere of Taste of Cherry in a beautiful widescreen transfer.

Forum members rate this film 8/10

 

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

Making its North American debut at the time on DVD in 1999, Criterion presents Abbas Kiarostamiís Taste of Cherry in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on this single-layer disc. The image has unfortunately not been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Generally speaking, for a non-anamorphic transfer, the image isnít too bad but itís not particularly good either. Itís a newer film so the print is in excellent shape, with only a few minor blemishes, but the digital transfer is unfortunately laced with compression artifacts. Block patterns are noticeable and when the main character is driving through the countryside with the camera moving it can become a bit distracting as it results in a fairly fuzzy image. When the camera isnít moving and objects are still on screen, detail is actually decent if nothing spectacular. Shimmering, particularly in the shirt the main character is wearing, can be problematic, as are halos around objects. Colours are fairly strong if tinged yellow, but I feel this was the intended look.

At the time I recall it looking okay but the transfer hasnít aged particularly well and its shortcomings are far more prominent now. It also doesnít help that itís not anamorphic. With a retouch using todayís technology the transfer could come off looking incredible.

6/10

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AUDIO

The 2-channel mono track provided here sounds fine. It delivers strong dialogue, and both background music and sound effects are sharp and clear. It never really rises above adequate, though, but considering the filmís reflective, quiet nature itís perfectly suiting.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Disappointingly this edition comes with only one significant feature, an interview with director Abbas Kiarostami conducted by Dr. Jamsheed Akrami prior to the release of the film. It has been divided into five chapters and is 19-minutes long. Annoying you have to select each subject from the chapter list to watch the whole thing and cannot watch it straight through. He talks about censorship and having to adjust oneself to the ďrulesĒ so to speak, talks about the filmís reception in the West and at home, and even talks about Quentin Tarantino, who was a juror alongside him at the Taormina International Film Festival in 1995. For this portion he actually speaks in English and itís brief, but despite the fact it appears he doesnít care for his films it seems he likes the man himself and admires his obvious love for film. Though itís obviously been truncated from a much longer piece (the notes state this was from footage shot for a documentary) itís still a great interview and Kiarostami proves to be a fascinating subject. I just wish there was more of that on here.

The disc then closes with a 1-minute theatrical trailer for the film and then a short filmography for Kiarostami, which only lists the film titles and nothing else. It only lists up to 1997ís Taste of Cherry.

The insert includes a very brief but not overly analytical essay on the film Godfrey Cheshire.

And that concludes it. Considering the controversy around the filmís release Iím surprised there wasnít more to be found here. Apparently Kiarostami found himself in trouble in Iran because of this film, and reactions to the film were incredibly mixed (Roger Ebertís review is probably the most famous negative reaction to the film) that Iím sure thereís some fascinating material out there. Still Criterion at least dug up the interview that appears here.

3/10

CLOSING

Though currently the only way to get the film on home video in North America Iíd be tempted to tell people to wait. The transfer isnít great, not holding up well at all (it still frustrates me Criterion waited so long to start doing anamorphic transfers,) and I wouldnít be surprised if Criterion felt the urge to revisit the film for Blu-ray sometime soon in the future (Iím hoping their release of Close-Up on Blu-ray might lead them to looking into that.)


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