Based upon a peculiar news story Kiarostami stumbled upon, the film follows an unemployed youth from Teheran called Hossein Sabzian, as he convinces an entire family that he is the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. After he is arrested for fraud and brought to trial, the family eventually pardons him, as, possessing not the slightest of criminal intent, it was Sabzian’s love for cinema that drove him to appropriate the filmmaker’s identity. Using the very people that were involved, Kiarostami re-enacts these events, placing his re-staging in opposition to the images of Sabzian’s trial.
“Exactly half my life was spent in the dark. My life itself was in the dark. I’ve never seen my life in focus. It’s all been a blurred image. Financially speaking, I spent money to buy tickets. In terms of years, I spent my time. And psychologically speaking, I sold my soul to cinema. So that’s how I spent the best hours of my childhood... in the dark.”
“The illusionist theme, with all the paradoxes of representation, is probably not absent: but it no longer has the function or functions it had in ‘films about film’ (for instance Day for Night by François Truffaut). Contrary to what certain commentators seem to have perceived in Kiarostami’s work, this theme never is his cinematic topic. Film on film or film in film is not something he is interested in; his work does not revolve around any mise en abyme. In it, the theme of lies leads only to the truth, and appearances intervene only to underscore the manner in which looking and the real together are mobilized. This comes out in the whole fable of Close-Up, and also the one in Through the Olive Trees, unveiling a number of artifices and lies needed to make Life and Nothing More, but in such a way that this unconcealment introduces a new story, neither more nor less effective than the first one, just showing another angle of what is real and therefore many-faceted.”
This is a special film for us: Sabzian is the main character of this masterpiece after whom our website was named and in whose spirit we conduct our work. This film is the most beautiful film ever made about the love for cinema.
- 1. Read more of Hossein Sabzian’s words in Close-Up Long Shot (Mamhoud Chokrollahi & Moslem Mansouri, 1996) here and here in our article section.
- 2. Jean-Luc Nancy, Abbas Kiarostami: L’Évidence du film / The Evidence of Film (Brussels: Yves Gevaert, 2001), 26.