This article examines the multiform appearance of elemental earth in the 1990s films of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, including Life and Nothing More, Through the Olive Trees, Taste of Cherry, and The Wind Will Carry Us. Its aim is to consider the elemental aspects of global art cinema, arguing that art cinema treats elements intermedially. Art cinema’s alliance with the elemental has been comparatively overlooked given its associations with the cosmopolitan sites of global modernity, but this essay asserts that modernism is as much geophysical as geopolitical. I read Kiarostami’s films as staging encounters between human action and elemental agency; they set their characters in agonistic relation to the seismic movements and obdurate resistance of the earth. Drawing on elemental philosophy, this article demonstrates that the existential questions regarding life and death in Kiarostami’s filmmaking are oriented toward the earth (as ground, stone, and dust).
The soundtrack for film Winter Sleep includes only five minutes of music: the opening passage of Schubert’s A-major Piano Sonata no. 20, Andantino, repeated in moments suggesting the main character’s Bildung and introspection. As the film progresses, this musical signal takes on increased narrative weight; its repetition adheres to a growing sense of the damage this character’s privilege enacts on his wife and on the families who owe him rent. Drawing on Irina Rajewsky’s recent work on transmedial movement, this paper argues for repetition and accumulation as narrative strategies across media, while pointing out the material associativity unique to music – in this case a Schubert passage that, in its broken-record replication, exposes the cost of traditional European bourgeois values in a Turkish household as patriarchal as it is ‘western’. Here music does not intensify an emotional-narrative arc but adds a critical dimension to dialogue and visual storytelling.
This paper starts out from the thesis that the use of music in ‘Quality TV’ series of today differs significantly from the use of music in earlier TV series, insofar as, in accordance with other structural experiments, the potentials of music in television are explored and enlarged to an extent hitherto unknown in the respective series. In order to support this thesis a close look is taken at the use of music in three of the most critically acclaimed and influential ‘Quality TV’ series so far, The Sopranos, The Wire, and Breaking Bad.