Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
A group of men set out in search of a dead body in the Anatolian steppes.
There is a scene in this film, a background scene, that completely encapsulated the film for me.
It is a scene of two shopkeepers judiciously sweeping the bits of sidewalk and road immediately in front of their place of business. In between the two sweepers lies a huge mound of sand.
No matter how many times they sweep, within minutes any trace of their work will have disappeared.
It will have made no difference.
They keep sweeping.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan takes a microscopic look at the mundane in the form of a crime. A murder has been committed. A man is dead. All those involved in the business of crime, from the criminal to the prosecutor to the police to…
This is my first meeting with a Nuri Bilge Ceylan film, and I was not disappointed. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a long, tiresome and difficult watch, and perhaps not for the restless, but it is a masterpiece, and the best of it's kind.
Through the night, three cars carry a small group of men around in the rural surroundings of the Anatolian town Keskin, in search of a buried body. The group involves police officers, a doctor, a prosecutor, two grave diggers, army forces, and two brothers, both homicide suspects. The darkness and the seemingly visual indistinctness of the barren landscape do not help, each spot looks the same.
It's an uncompromising film, seemingly possessed by some…
This movie is slow. It's dark. It's foreign. And it's 157 minutes long. But don't run away just yet. Because there's a lot to appreciate here. Starting of course with its deliberate and contemplative slow pacing that fits like a glove for the type of film this is and the type of mood it tries to convey. The film takes place during a night and day and it follows a group of men in search of a recently buried corpse. The group consists of police officers, gendarmerie forces, the two prime suspects, a doctor and a prosecutor. During this search we come to know these people and get a glimpse inside their lives, what are they like, what interests them,…
There is a magical sequence in Once Upon A Time In Anatolia that has a dream like quality and works like some fresh air in a movie filled with linguistic violence, skepticism, despair and hopelessness: in the middle of a dark night a young girl enters the room with a lamp and serves the guests with glasses of tea. The girl’s beauty, innocence and honest look is the only source of hope and faith in this movie, it is the sequence that I will never forget.
This is not an easy movie to watch, it is 150 minutes long and it has a quite slow pace, but the main thing that makes…
Not a traditional crime story by any stretch, but this kind of slow-art-film-meets-procedural has its own set of traditions (just one other example in this subgenre would be Police, Adjective). This is a beautifully shot and composed film, though, and it does manage to throw in more than its share of real surprises. There's a sequence involving the elusive corpse that drives the plot that slowly evolves into particularly black comedy, and an autopsy-room-climax that comes as close as you can to Grand Guignol with sound effects and a couple drops of blood.
I'm making this sound like a much simpler movie than it actually is, though - I almost want to watch it again as soon as possible just to untangle all of its mysteries. It's a real masterpiece, definitely one of my favorites of the year so far.
Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
These two Bible quotations, in my humble opinion, encapsulate the entire statement of Ceylan's new thought-provoking and mysterious crime story, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Leaving the crime plot elements aside, which are just the engine of the story, the answers are left intentionally unclear, but the messages are not.
First, appearances are deceiving, and the heart is an intrinsically evil mystery, even to ourselves. Our scope of things is incredibly limited, and in our attempts to rationalize events around us, past…
Beautiful, contemplative film.
Långsamt och medativt drama på turkiska landsbygden. Ett brott i centrum knyter samman filmens huvudkaraktärer, en doktor, en polis och en åklagare som vi följer under ett dygn. Suveränt foto och fina gestaltningar av "vanliga" människors livsöden. Kanske lite väl långsamt för min smak. Men den behöver också lite tid på sig att sjunka in, det pågår en hel del under karaktärernas yta.
Grim and slowly paced
Week 6 - Letterboxd Season Challenge 2015-16 - Eastern European Week
It's as stunning as it is slow, and this really is a slog to sit through. Some say the contemplative runtime was needed, I say an extensive editing work and a more dynamic camera work would suffice to make this good.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is ostensibly propelled by the need to find the body of a murder victim, but it has no real urgency and offers no real explanation. The characters aren’t even solving the crime, just cleaning it up.
Women are a fascinating presence, as they’re primarily only a silent and invisible force behind much of what’s happened and what’s talked about, including the motive behind the murder, the consequences of the murder, the doctor’s marriage prospects, and, perhaps most importantly, the apparent suicide of the prosecutor’s wife. Few of these subjects are ever approached directly, in quite a bravura show of screenwriting.
What impressed me most, though, was Gökhan Tiryaki’s stunning cinematography and Erkan Altinok’s equally audacious sound design. Together, they create an imbalance of distance (very long shots and close-up sound) that cleverly mirrors the existential implications of an investigation unchecked by something as indefinite as objective truth.
Kind of just a slog for me, and the second half mostly felt like CSI: Turkey. A slow burn, definitely too slow of a burn for me. The movie never comes close to justifying its 150 minute run time to me. Has some beautiful landscapes and general photography, but never comes together for me cinematically.
Seen as part of the Letterboxd Season Challenge; week 6
Nuri Bilge Ceylan's movie does in some way remind me of a mixture of the South Korean Memories of Murder and a Béla Tarr-movie, but is thankfully uniquely its own creation.
It's slow paced, lingers enough to allow us to let our mind wander--pondering themes he introduces, but also human nature at its core. Often you'll find 'spiritually important' movies to spend a certain focus through one theme, trying to either manipulate our emotions, or at the very least steer over attention--subconscious or fully aware--at one particular topic. To me, Ceylan spends his strange twist on the procedural mundane to rather remind us of stuff. Remind us of things like…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Film #30 of the "November 2015 Scavenger Hunt" Challenge!
Task #23 A film where the title begins with "Once Upon A Time In..."
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a long, slow, meditative crime procedural that happens in slices of real-time. It's a gorgeously shot film set in the cold and windy Anatolian steppe. Nuri Bilge Ceylan crafts a picture that is stark and leaks just enough information and intrigue necessary to keep the story moving. The film slowly reveals things, some conversations begin then break, and don't continue for another 30 minutes. But along the way symbols are revealed and we start to recognize things about the process that are characters are going through, and it becomes…
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