2 Solutions to 1 Problem: A Case of Minimalism

a commentary

Strike a pose!

Abbas Kiarostami, according to Scorsese (courtesy of Stuart Jeffrie's article on the Guardian), "represents the highest level of artistry in the cinema." This claim of superiority is "exaggerated" to the extent of the gods when Jean-Luc Godard, the founder of the French Nouvelle Vague, said, "Film begins with DW Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami".

Highly esteemed Kiarostami, with his monumental features A Taste of Cherry (1997) and The Wind will Carry Us (1999), is now considered a living legend of contemporary cinema. It would be too careful to say that he was an auteur practicing his best ideas of cinema in his films. This control over praise does not work with him on a here-and-now basis for the reason that Kiarostami redefines cinema's boundaries on the artistry taking into account it's whole history by putting his audience into a meditative stance, and leaves them without suffering the prejudice mainstream cinema brutally dictates.



Two Solutions for One Problem
by Abbas Kiarostami

In his short film, Two Solutions for One Problem(1975), Kiarostami explores a common perspective on human relations: conflict between a man and another man. It seems cut and dry to explore this relations in a, call it, "Kiarostamian" perspective. This might oversimplify the fact that Kiarostami only wants to us to understand a singular conflict between two individuals in a black and white manner, as in the first part of the film. But he puts another interpretation, a rather simple one at the other half.

Anyone can put judgement on this film. This is what Kiarostami is trying to tell us. Two solutions, strips away the sentimentality most movies with children as characters impose. This is a Kiarostamian minimalism, although it can be viewed in Bressonian form. But the cut and dry narration of the story is unique in cinema. He wants us to understand that the theme: conflict between two individuals can be resolved in two very simple ways.

It is not austere as one could have described, but rather a assemblage of cut-and-dry truths. Truths that are treated with objectivity without suffering from the adverse effects on emotive forces commonly seen in Filipino films with love as theme. It is, in a way, a form of encouragement to the audience, to look at human conflicts this way. To at a certain part of the problem without the emotive facades.

In essence, this 5-minute film is indeed Kiarostami's best kept short after Bread and Alley(1970).

A scene in Bread and Alley.