Kiarostami’s ‘The Colours’ is brief whimsical excellence

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One of Abbas Kiarostami’s short films, ‘The Colours’ is a whimsical ode to the colors in our daily life. The Iranian director made the education short early in his filmmaking career, under the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. Playing out like a children’s book, Kiarostami’s avant-garde film is mesmerizing and reminiscent of a PBS special. Throughout the short, he instructs the viewer on the various colors of the rainbow and where to find them on everyday objects. Kiarostami has a knack for finding the extraordinary in the everyday, romanticizing even the colors found on a common trash can.

One of the best sequences of the film is when Kiarostami introduces the color red. After a few shots of various red objects, Kiarostami has a wonderful segment of the film’s nameless child walking down the street and passing a red car. As he stops at the red light at the crosswalk, Kiarostami intercuts shots of a red slot car zooming down a toy track with the child as a racecar driver. As soon as the crosswalk turns green, the imaginary sequence abruptly ends, and the child goes on with his day. With just a few shots, Kiarostami deftly enters the mind of the kid and captures the feeling of childhood imagination.

Early works of famed filmmakers during the beginning of their career are always interesting to see. Although ‘The Colours’ is an educational video made for teaching young children about hues, the short film can also be seen as a portending testament to Kiarostami’s eye as a filmmaker. The editing, the way the shots are framed and the complementary score are masterfully done, with these elements echoed in his later works.

Julie Lim covers film. Contact her at [email protected].