The Taste of Cherries is a lovely Iranian film by Abbas Khiarastomi. The central character of the film is a tired, middle aged engineer who decides to end his life. He drives about the bleak countryside looking for an individual who will shovel dirt over him when he is lying in the grave which he has dug for himself. The first two passengers flee him, shocked at what he’s asked them to do. The third character is an old man, a Turk, who tells him, “Every problem has a solution. Let’s take a different road, a more beautiful road. I will help you in a different way.”
The Turk has him drive through a greener, more pastoral part of the countryside and he begins his own tale of despair and renewal. He says that after he was first married, he had many troubles. He, too, decided to end it all. He got up very early one morning while it was still dark and put a rope in his car. He set off for the mulberry plantations. He stopped there in the dark and threw a rope over a sturdy limb of a large tree, but it didn’t catch hold. So he climbed the tree and tied the rope on tight. Then he felt something soft under his hand. It was mulberries–deliciously sweet mulberries. He ate one. It was succulent. Then a second and a third. Suddenly, he noticed the sun was rising over the mountaintop. “What sun, what scenery, what greenery!” he says in the film. All of a sudden he heard children heading off to school. They asked him to shake the tree. The mulberries fell and they ate them. He felt happy. Then he gathered some mulberries to take them home. He woke up his wife and she ate the mulberries too. “I had left to kill myself and came back with mulberries!”
The old Turkish man says, “I had changed. Every family has problems. A little mulberry saved my life. You have to change your outlook and you change the world. Life is a train that keeps moving forward, then reaches the end of the line, the terminus, and death waits at the terminus. Don’t you ever drink fresh water from a spring? The seasons bring forth fruit. Do you want to refuse all that? You want to give up the taste of cherries?”
The engineer ponders his words and the movie ends without telling us the man’s final decision.
Even in the midst of our woes, the world is full of wonder, and mystery, and beauty. It is there for us to experience, once we step outside our day-to-day problems. The Turk listed the taste of cherries, fresh water from a spring, and the seasons bringing forth fruit. List your favorite things of the physical world.