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 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,…
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…
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…
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…
It was bound to happen sooner or later and today was the day: I doze off whilst watching a movie and by that I do not mean to say that my eyes closed for a few seconds, but that I went to dreamland for about forty minutes. The sad thing? I hadn’t missed a thing when I woke up again. I fully appreciated the first hour in which we see the beautiful Anatolian landscape and a bunch om men undertaking an investigation whilst actually doing not much more than wandering around and talk or drive towards their next location and talk. It felt very natural and the conversation were casual, but interesting. After a while though, it became clear that…
Still an absolutely breathtaking work of art that confirms Ceylan's place as one of the finest and most exacting directors (and writers) of the last few decades.
This certainly didn't meet my big expectations after loving Winter Sleep so much. But it is fairly good—no doubt, with a compelling first half that uses the dusky, detoured landscape to create a grueling burial search for characters in existential dread. You feel the elusiveness. You feel the expressions harden. You feel the unending frustration. Seriously, watch it in a pitch-black living room and you're placed within the setting. I also love how it's shown in omnipresent time. It's a movie which takes 1½ hours to reach daylight by using these moments to express on ~situation~ and how internal aggressiveness can be built around these hills.
Then it becomes a bit comic (which is still fine) as a means of…
There is no more beautiful a film than ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA. That being said, there is no film that milks the 157-minute run time than ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA. My dear lord, this movie felt long. I’m not sure if it was the subject or the cultural divide, but Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s film about the search for a dead body (well, to be honest, it is more than just that) is a difficult feast that cannot be consumed in one sitting. Through gorgeous long shots, enveloping settings, and genuinely interesting characters, we are set upon the tedious task of crime. That may be one of Ceylan’s points, coupled with the relationship between men and children,…
subtle, open, brilliantly paced, ruminates on the big questions
A murder has been committed and confessed to. The Police are trying to find the body with the aid of the confessees but having trouble locating it. Eventually they do and take it back to the nearest village for an autopsy.
It's time to hand in my arty farty movie snob badge. I can stand no more of this. One Upon a Time in Anatolia has a run time of 400 hours and a plot that can be printed out on A5 in large font. I'm at a loss to understand the appeal of it. Sure, it looks pretty, the cinematography is great, the scenery is beautiful. But hardly anything happens, it's virtually shot in real time and packed full…
This is just my second foray into Turkish cinema and so far I've yet to be disappointed (the other was Metin Erksan's Susuz Yaz).
Nuri Bilge Ceylan finds a skillfully crafted, harmonious balance between dark police procedural and a philosophical dissection of morals, life, truth, death, infidelity, and influence. Ceylan eschews the use of a score here and it speaks volumes. The prescient and chaotic use of wind not only is used as an important theme throughout, but literally carries the characters' search for answers from scene to scene. The bleak cinematography of ostensibly identical Turkish fields and deserted terrain adds to the incongruity of the film.
Teetering on the border of masterpiece, I'm anxious and looking forward to exploring more of Ceylan's work.
I quickly lost interest in the plot and found it very slow and tedious.
There was a rumour, persistent and voiced with confidence that art house cinema was dead, or at the very least only kept alive by the artificial life support mechanism of the film festival. The co-incidence of Bergmann and Antonioni dying within days seemed to confirm everything: it was time for the obituaries.
But as Mark Twain might say reports of death are greatly exaggerated. We are in a golden age for film that is south consciously 'art' often emerging from that mysterious place called 'world' but drawing on the heavy cerebral end of western cinema. This film seems to draw on both Bergmann, shooting its main characters so that their bodies overlap, often sitting in cars (their bodies overlap because…
Νύχτα. Στα βάθη της Τουρκίας. Στα βάθη μιας χώρας που μετά την Άγκυρα επικρατεί το χάος και οι διαφορές στο βιοτικό επίπεδο είναι εξόφθαλμες. Γυμνή από μουσική και ευφυολογήματα, η ταινία βαδίζει αργά και καταφέρνει να μας υπνωτίσει με το άγριο και απέραντο τοπίο της Ανατολίας. Μέσα σ' αυτό ξεδιπλώνεται και ο κάθε χαρακτήρας, με βλέμματα, ποίηση, ερωτήματα και αντιδράσεις. Θα παρακαλούσα μονάχα για ένα πράγμα που με απέτρεψε από το να βάλω το τελευταίο αστέρι: να μην είχε ξημερώσει ποτέ.
Originally a list made prior to Cannes 2014, now updated every mid-April.
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