Taste of Cherry (1997) - full transcript

Middle-aged Mr.Badii is planning to commit suicide and desperately seeks anyone to assist him - he has already dug out the grave in the mountains, but the assistant will have to bury him when he will do the deed. He asks Kurd soldier, Afghan seminarian, but everyone refuses by some reason. Finally he finds an old Turkish taxidermist, who has a sick son and previously attempted suicide himself, and he agrees to assist Badii.

In the name of God


A laborer?
You want laborers?


-You want laborers, do you?
-How many?

Take two

-Hello, mister.

How are you doing?

-What are you doing?
-Playing cars

Know how much a meal costs?

Get to the point

100,000 tomans is nothing!

How will we pay it back?

Right, what are they asking for?

Where can we find title-deeds?

Don't hang up!
Do you want to make a call?


-Do you want to use the phone?

Yes, I'm listening


Outside the museum?

All right


-I'll drop you off.
-No, I'm working

-I'm going that way.
-I'm working

-Don't act so proud...
-I said I'm working!

Come here.
Just a minute, please

Hello. How are you?

If you have money problems,
I can help you


-You don't have money problems?

I can help you

Clear off
or I'll smash your face in!

Get lost!


-How are you?
-Fine, thanks

What is it?
What are you collecting?

Plastic bags

What for?

I pick them up and liquidate them
near the factory

What happened to your finger?

I cut myself this morning


Nice shirt!
Where did you get it?

I found it over there
last week

Nice color, it suits you!

Know what it says on it?

Where are you from?

''Pissy, pissy...
Your dick's all sticky''

-Don't mind them.
-They're playing.

-Where are you from?
-Near Lorestan

Not a local then,
from Lorestan

-Are you from Lorestan too?
-You could say that

How much do you make a day?

200, 300, 400...

700, 600.

What do you do with the money?

I send it to my family

You want to get married?

No, I'm helping my family

You're helping them?

So, would you do something
if I asked you?

A job?

A well-paid job

No, I don't know how...

I just collect plastic bags
and sell them

Where are you going?


A film by

Homayoun ERSHADI

Abdolhosein BAGHERI

Safar Ali MORADI

Mir Hosein NOURI


Assistant cameraman

Sound assistant



1st assistant director

2nd assistant director



Mohamadreza DELPAK

Homayoun PAYVAR

Written, produced and directed by

-Where are you going?
-To the barracks

Come on, get in



Are you well?
Where are you going?

Down there, not very far

The barracks down there?

-Near the reservoir?

You look tired

I guess I am

-Are you worn out?

A soldier is never tired!

What do you expect?
I've waked from Darabad

-From Darabad?

But today's a holiday

I'm on duty tonight
until six in the morning

Then what are you doing?

-Where will you go?
-To my aunt's

She's dead, I stay
with her husband, a janitor

How long ago were you drafted?

Two months

-Still in training?

Where are you from?


-And you're in the army here?

Will you stay or go back after?

-No, I'll go back.

-I'll go back home.
-Back to Kurdistan?


What did you do
in Kurdistan?

What did you do there?

I was a farmer

A farmer?

Have you studied?

-Were you at school?
-Not for long


You gave up?


You know how it is

How many people in your family?



-They all work?
-Yes, all of them

-Do you know anyone in Tehran?


I have two brothers in Tehran

Why don't you stay with them?

They're married,
they have small houses, children

I can't stay there

Do you have money?
Soldiers get pay

-A little... the pay's not good

Is it enough for you?

Oh no, it's not enough

When do you have to be back by?

Six p.m.

It's five now

You're so fond of the place,
you get there

an hour early?

No, not really... no

We've got an hour to kill.
How about a drive?

I may have
a well-paid job to offer you

to supplement your income

I want to be at the barracks
by six

-I want to be back by six

I'll drive you back

Don't worry, you won't be late

-Shall we go?

I'll get you back by six,
don't worry

You say the barracks
aren't much fun?

I had fun
when I did my military service

It was the best time
of my life

I met my closest friends there

Especially in the first
six months

I remember we used to get up
at four in the morning

After breakfast,
we'd shine our boots and

we'd go out on manoeuvers.
The major would join us

There were 40 to 45 men
in the regiment

The major would start counting

He'd tell us to repeat: One




Do you count too?
Is it the same?


How do you count?

Are you shy?


Why? Don't you count with
your friends at the barracks?


So you don't think of me
as a friend

Of course I do, we're friends

No, you act as if
we don't know each other

-No, it's not that.
-Well, then?

It's not that

Listen, this is how we did it:




One, two, three, four

One, two, three, four

-Go on, repeat after me: One

two, three

Is that how you do it
at the barracks?!

-Soldiers don't count like that!
-I can't help it

You're taking me a long way!
I need to know what you want

-What you have to do?

You know, son

If I were in your shoes,
I wouldn't ask

what the job is,
but rather how good the pay is

For someone like you

the pay's what matters.
A job is a job

It's easy
if you look at it that way

This isn't an ordinary job
but neither is the pay

In ten minutes,
you can earn six months' pay

What's the job?

Forget the job,
it's the pay that matters

You have to tell me what it is!

Listen, when you ask a laborer
to dig foundations

does he ask
if they're for a hospital,

a lunatic asylum or a mosque

or a school? He does his job
and gets his pay

Ever been a laborer?


Were you told
what you were digging for?

-No, no one told me.
-Why ask me then?

Help me out, I'll pay you

It's not hard, you'll see


Where are you going?

I have to be at the barracks
by six

I'll drive you back,
wait a while

I want to get out!

I want to get out!

-Get out?

A call of nature?

No, I was thinking
I could go

Why did I ask you to come?
You think I'm nuts?

Do I look nuts?

I was thinking
I ought to get back

I promised I'd get you back
by six and I will

Wait a while

Come on, get out a minute

-I need to get back.
-Get out, I'll explain

You see that hole

That hole there

Now listen carefully

At six in the morning,
come here and call me twice:

''Mr. Badii! Mr. Badii!''

If I reply, take my hand
to help me out of there

There's 200,000 tomans
in the car

Take it and go

If I don't reply,

throw in 20 spadefuls of earth
on top of me

-Then take the money and go.
-Take me back

Keep it. Take me back!

I don't want to cause trouble

-Trouble? What trouble?
-I don't want it. It's late

I want to go back. I don't want
to be involved in all this

You can't throw 20 spadefuls
of earth in that hole?

Right now,
I really need you

otherwise I wouldn't have
begged you

You want me to beg you?
Is that what you want?

No, why would you beg me?

What does ''need'' mean?

What does ''help'' mean?
''Help'' isn't necessarily paid for,

but I'll give you money,
I'll help you

Don't you need money?
Are you sure?

Of course I do

Isn't 200,000 enough?

It's not that.
I can't do this for you

It's not a matter of money

You can't throw earth in a hole?

Yes, but not on top of someone,
not on someone's head

You can't throw earth
on someone!

If he was alive,
he'd stand up to respond.

Look, I really need your help.
I'm not mad!

When you throw the earth in,
the man won't be alive,

or he wouldn't be in that hole

Do you understand now?

Do you understand me?


So if you understand,
get out, come and see

When you come back here
at six tomorrow morning

Is your barracks over there?

From there to here
will only take you 20 minutes

Call my name twice:
''Mr. Badii, Mr. Badii!''

If I reply, you'll take my hand
to help me climb out

You'll get paid

But if I don't reply...

Get out

Get out!

Get out, come and see!

It's God's will I should need you

and you don't want to help!

You don't want to?!

You won't bury me alive!

Right now,
they're burying dozens of people

As we speak, dozens
of dead people are being buried

-You've never seen a gravedigger?
-No, never

I'm not a gravedigger

I don't bury people

I know you're not a gravedigger

If I'd wanted one,
I'd have fetched one

It's you I need

You're like my son

Help me

I have to beg?

Is that what you want?

No, what's the use of begging?

Get out then,
come and have a look

Maybe you'll feel up to it

20 spadefuls of earth

Just 20,
Each paid 10,000 tomans

Where are you from?

-You're a Kurd!

A Kurd has to be brave

You people have fought
so many wars,

known such suffering...
Your villages have been decimated

You've probably used a gun,

Know what a gun is?
Why you're given one?

So you can kill when you need to

I don't want to give you
a gun to kill me

I'm giving you a spade, a spade

You're a farmer, right?

Just pretend you're farming

and that I'm manure to be spread
at the foot of a tree

Is that hard?

You're destined to use a gun,
not a spade!

You can't even use a spade!

Thank you!

Thank you very much!


-How are you?
-Well, thanks

-What's that machine for?
-Making cement

Why isn't it working?

This place is closed now.
The workers aren't here

So what are you doing here?

I'm the security guard

-Are you alone?

All alone... Do you enjoy that?

Come and join me

-I don't want to disturb you.
-Come on up!

-I have to climb this ladder?

-How can you climb this?
-I'm used to it

-You're used to it.


What a nice place

Nice? It's nothing
but earth and dust

You don't think earth's nice?

Earth gives us
all the good things!

So according to you, all good
things return to the earth

I think you're...?

I'm Afghani

-Where from?
-Mazar-e Sharif

That's a strange name.
Whose ''Mazar'' is it?

It's the tomb of the Imam Ali

It's a place of pilgrimage

Isn't the Imam Ali's tomb
in Najaf?

Yes, but some people think
it's in Mazar-e Sharif


What are you doing?

I'm making myself an omelette.
It isn't worthy of you

I'll make you some tea

Thank you very much!

Don't you get bored here alone?

I'm used to it.
I'm used to loneliness too

Do you know that man?

Yes, he's a fellow countryman

He's Afghani?

Yes, he's a ''seminarist''.
He's here for his holidays

A ''seminarist''?
He should be in a seminary

He felt lonely,
he came to see me

He's been here
for two or three nights

Is he staying for good?

Of course not...just three nights

I didn't catch what you said

-Is he staying tonight?
-Yes, he's staying

You're not entirely alone then

No, not entirely alone

-Is he Afghani too?

So many Afghanis around here!

There've been a lot
since the war in Afghanistan

Between 2 and 3 million Afghanis
live in Iran

With the war here,
why didn't they go back?

The war against Iraq
only concerned the Iranians

But the war at home concerned us

And our war didn't concern you?

You could say your war
troubled us

but the Afghanistan War
was harder... more painful for us

Tell me

today's a holiday,
so why are you here alone?

You feel sad, so do I

Come for a drive. We can
get a change of scene, talk

I'm the security guard here,
I'm in charge

-A guard in this place?

But who could carry off
a machine that heavy?

It's a holiday.
No one needs guards. Come on

Let's get some fresh air.
Everything's safe

It's my duty.
We all have our responsibilities

-I can't leave my post.
-You really can't?

No, sorry

I thought
we could get some air

I'll go and see your friend,
the seminarist

Maybe we'll go
for a drive together

I've made some tea

Leave it for later.

-Try going the other way.
-The ladder moves!

It's dangerous! Mend it

You can mend it
by wrapping fuse-wire around it

Are you well?

You're Afghani, aren't you?


What are you doing?

I've got three days' holiday

I was alone, I felt down

My friend Ahmad was alone too
so I came here to visit him

I meant
what are you doing in Iran?

I study at the Tchizar seminary

Aren't there any seminaries
in Afghanistan?

Yes, there are some.
But there was a war on

And my seminary wasn't
that good

so my father told me
to study in Iran or at Najaf

So I came to study in Iran

What about the fees?
Does your father send you money?

My father isn't that well-off, no

The seminary pays me 2,000 tomans

During the summer, I work

to build up my savings

What kind of work?

I work as a laborer,
simple work

I didn't know a seminarist
could work as a laborer

When you need to, you work

So if a job comes along,
you take it?


Aren't you wondering
why I've offered you a ride?


I know that your duty
is to preach and guide people

But you're young, you have time,
you can do that later

It's your hands that I need

I don't need your tongue

or your mind

I'm lucky that those hands
belong to a true believer

With the patience, endurance
and perseverance that you learn

you're the best person
to carry out this job

You're not telling me
what I have to do

I know my decision
goes against your beliefs

You believe God gives life
and takes it when He sees fit

But there comes a time
when a man can't go on

He's exhausted and
can't wait for God to act

So he decides to act himself

There, that's what's
called ''suicide''

You see, the word ''suicide''

isn't only made
for dictionaries

It has to have
a practical application

And here's the application

Man has to decide
on its application

I don't really understand.
Tell me what I have to do

If I can, I'll do it for you

I've decided to free myself
from this life

What for?

It wouldn’t help you to know
and I can't talk about it

And you wouldn’t understand

It's not because
you don't understand

but you can't feel what I feel

You can sympathize, understand

show compassion.
But feel my pain? No

You suffer and so do I.
I understand you

You comprehend my pain
but you can't feel it

That's why I ask you
to be a true Moslem

and help me. Can you?

Yes, I understand you.
But suicide is wrong

Since the Hadiths,
our twelve Imams and the Koran

refer to suicide

and say that man
mustn't kill himself

God entrusts man's body to him

Man must not torment that body

I understand you, but suicide,
viewed from every angle...

That's right

but I told you
that I didn't need a lecture

If I had wanted a lecture
I'd have turned to someone

with more experience,
who's finished his studies

I'm simply asking
for a helping hand

My hand does God's justice

What you want
wouldn’t be just

I know that suicide
is one of the deadly sins

But being unhappy
is a great sin too

When you're unhappy
you hurt other people

Isn't that a sin too?

When you hurt others,
isn't that a sin?

Hurting your family...
your friends

hurting yourself

isn't that a sin?

If I hurt you,
that isn't a sin

but if I kill myself,
it is?

You're right

hurting the people close to you
is a great sin too

I think that God is merciful
and so great

that He doesn't want to see
His creatures suffer

He's so great
that He can't possibly

want to force us to live

That's why He grants man
this solution

Have you ever thought
about the meaning of this?

I've thought about it
but not like you have

In any case
our talk won't get us anywhere

This isn't the time or place

Get out now. Next to that tree,
there's a hole

Go and look.
I'll explain afterwards

Go on. Take a look

Get in

I'll explain now

I've decided to swallow

all my sleeping pills tonight

and then come and lie down
in that hole

To sleep

What I want you to do
is wait until dawn

then come here
like a kind brother

and cover me with soil.
That's all

Of course

I follow the Koran
when it says-

This work will bring you
not only Heaven's reward

but also a material reward so you
won't need to work this summer

The Koran says

You shall not kill yourself

What's the difference
between killing someone

and killing yourself?

Killing yourself is killing

What's your decision?

Why don't you get out?

My friend has cooked an omelette
and it smells good. Let's eat

You'll find a solution

Thank you! I know he's cooked
but eggs are bad for me!

Some other time! Good-bye!

Mister, mister

Mister, move your car.
The digger has to work

Clear the way

Move your car,
the digger has to work

What are you doing here?

This is no place to sit down!

Are you sick?
Come on, move your car!

You can't sleep here!

If you want cement,
you have to go to the office

Come on, take your car

Why have you come here?

Are you sick?

Do you want some tea?

Stand up, take your car

Come on... Come on

Thank you.

So, no more questions?


You've got your bearings?
That tree is a good landmark


So, no more questions?
No problems?

No problems but...

But what?

When you want to help someone

You have to do it properly,
with all your heart

It's better...
more just and more reasonable

You can even use your hands
instead of a spade

Keep your feelings
for more essential things

But how?

What's your job?

I already told you

What specialization?

Shovelling earth
doesn't require specialization

Just shovelling earth

If I could help in another way

I'd prefer that

Just do what I ask

But what help?

If a man
wants to help his fellow man

he ought to do it differently!

He can save a life

I won't be responsible
for someone's death

but, since you ask,
I'll say yes

But it's hard.
Admit that it's not easy!

If you don't explain your problem,

who can help you?
You don't know me

But you have relatives,
friends, a brother

Forgive me for prying

It's either a family problem
or debts

Every problem has its solution

But if you don't talk

no one can help you

We all have problems in life

If we all chose this way
out of every tiny problem

there would be no one
left on earth

Isn't that right? No one!

Not a living soul!

Turn left, please

-I don't know this road.
-I know it

It's longer
but better and more beautiful

I've been a prisoner
of this desert for 35 years

I'll tell you something
that happened to me

It was just after I got married

We had all kinds of troubles

I was so fed up with it
that I decided

to end it all

One morning, before dawn

I put a rope in my car

My mind was made up,
I wanted to kill myself

I set off for Mianeh.
This was in 1960

I reached
the mulberry tree plantations

I stopped there.
It was still dark

I threw the rope over a tree
but it didn't catch hold

I tried once, twice
but to no avail

So then I climbed the tree

and tied the rope on tight

Then I felt something soft
under my hand. Mulberries

Deliciously sweet mulberries

I ate one.
It was succulent,

then a second and third

Suddenly, I noticed

that the sun was rising
over the mountaintop

What sun, what scenery,

what greenery!

All of a sudden, I heard
children heading off to school

They stopped to look at me

They asked me to shake the tree

The mulberries fell and they ate

I felt happy

Then I gathered some mulberries
to take them home

My wife was still sleeping

When she woke up,
she ate mulberries as well

And she enjoyed them too

I had left to kill myself

and I came back with mulberries

A mulberry saved my life

A mulberry saved my life

You ate mulberries,

so did your wife,
and everything was fine

No, it wasn't like that,
but I changed

Afterwards, it was better
but I had in fact changed my mind

I felt better

Every man on earth
has problems in his life

That's the way it is.
There are so many people on earth

There isn't one family
without problems

I don't know your problem

otherwise I could explain better

When you go to see a doctor

you tell him where it hurts

Excuse me,
you're not Turkish, are you?

Here's a joke.
Don't feel offended

A Turk

goes to see a doctor.
He tells him:

''When I touch my body
with my finger, it hurts

''When I touch my head, it hurts,
my legs, it hurts

''my belly, my hand, it hurts''

The doctor examines him
and then tells him:

''Your body's fine
but your finger's broken!''

My dear man,
your mind is ill

but there's nothing wrong
with you. Change your outlook

I had left home to kill myself

but a mulberry changed me

an ordinary, unimportant mulberry

The world isn't the way
you see it

You have to change your outlook
and change the world

Be optimistic

Look at things positively

You're in your prime!

Because of some minor problem
you want to commit suicide

For one single problem

Life is like a train
that keeps on moving forward

and then reaches the end
of the line, the terminus

And death waits at the terminus

Of course,
death is a solution

but not at first,
not during your youth

Forgive me for dragging you off
along this rocky road

You think something is good,
then realize you're wrong

The main thing is to think hard

You believe what you do is right

but then you realize
that you're wrong

Talk, say something
to give me a breather

I've talked too much,
I've said everything

I've given a whole speech.
Just say something!

Turn left here, please

In any case, if you don't talk,
I'll talk some more

If you don't talk,
I will

Have you lost all hope?

Have you ever looked at the sky
when you wake in the morning?

At dawn, don't you want to see
the sun rise?

The red and yellow of the sun
at sunset,

don't you want to see that

Have you seen the moon?
Don't you want to see the stars?

The night of the full moon,

don't you want to see it again?
You want to close your eyes?

Please, take the right fork!

The people on the other side
would like to take a look here

and you want to rush over there!

Don't you ever want to drink
water from a spring again?

Or wash your face in that water?

Turn right!

If you look at the four seasons

each season brings fruit

In summer, there's fruit,
in autumn too

winter brings different fruit
and spring too

No mother can fill her fridge

with such a variety of fruit
for her children

No mother can do as much
for her children

as God does for His creatures

You want to refuse all that?
You want to give it all up?

You want to give up
the taste of the cherries?

Don't. I'm your friend,
I'm begging you!

Turn right

Turn right,
this is the main road

Turn left, please

Before I get out

I'm going to sing you
a song in Turkish

It means: ''My love,
I'm flying off, come to me

''I'm hounded from my friend's
garden, come to me

''From happy days before

''I've fallen on hard times,
come to me''

Tell me,
we barely know each other

You go, I'm your friend.
You stay, I'm your friend

In any case, I'm your friend

You stay, I'm your friend.
You go, I'll be your friend too


Do you work here?

Tell me what you do

I told you, I work here
at the Natural History Museum

No, I mean tomorrow morning

Tomorrow, I come at dawn.
I call twice:

''Mister... Mister...''


Badii, and you reply

Then I take your hand
to help you out

And if I don't reply?

You will reply! Inch'Allah,
I know what you'll say

But what if I don't reply?

I'll do what you asked me to do,

don't worry!

Say it to put my mind at ease

Some things

are easier to do than to say

In any case, you'll do it

If it wasn't for my child,
I wouldn’t

Believe me, it's hard

It's a deal.

I come
and I cover you with earth

You take your money
and you leave

What a relief for you!

I must go,
the kids are waiting

May this money help
to cure your child

Keep your promise,
or you won't be blessed

I hope you'll be all right

Take this now.
You'll get the rest tomorrow

Thanks for bringing me back here.
Thanks again!

I'll see you at six tomorrow.
Or rather, you'll see me at six

God willing, you'll see me too

Take it, take the money

Thank you but no.
After I do the job

Sir, please,
could you take our photo?

It's all set,
just press the button

Thank you

Hey, what's wrong?
Are you in a hurry to die?!

He's crazy, man!


I want to see the man
who just came in

-Many men come in.
-He had a blue jacket

His name?

He works here.
He was carrying a bag

Many men work here

He had a bag full of quails

for the students.
To stuff them

What's his name?

I don't know.
He has a sick child, with anemia

Oh, you mean the old man
who works in the workshop

Mr. Bagheri

Yes, Mr. Bagheri.
Could you call him?

We can't do that

-Can I go in?
-You need a ticket

Please! How much is it?

-100 tomans.
-Where do I go now?

Follow the path, turn right

behind the main building.
You'll find ''Taxidermy''


Four, please

Thanks, Mr. Bagheri.
More partridges!

Just as good! What you get
is a matter of luck

Please, girls

A partridge or a quail

We were supposed to study quails!

Birds don't fall into the net
to make you happy

Mr. Bagheri, someone for you

First, you have to lie them
on their backs

and wet the thorax feathers
with a sponge

Then slit them open
with a scalpel

along the whole length
of the body

Don't cut too deeply
or the innards will spill out

Mr. Bagheri
come and sit with me

No thank you. I'm busy

-Mr. Bagheri, are you well?
-Yes, thank you

That white coat suits you

Thank you very much

What were you doing?

-What birds have you handed out?

Did you kill them?

Yes. For work

You're well then?

-I have something to tell you.
-Go on

When you come in the morning

bring two small stones
and throw them at me

I might just be asleep
but still alive!

Two stones aren't enough.
I'll use three

Shake my shoulders too!
Perhaps I'll be alive

You promised me!

Even if they behead me,
I'll keep my word

You promised. Don't forget,
don't let me down

Can you hear me?

Tell your men to stay
near the tree to rest

The shoot is over

We're here for a sound take