Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

The Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club was this week showing its world cinema credentials with a second Turkish film. The first was in September last year, Bal (Honey) the Golden Bear winner at 2010 Berlin Film Festival was directed by Semih Kapanoglu and explores a young boys early childhood spent growing up in rural North-eastern Turkey where his father keeps bee’s in hives at the top of some very tall tree’s and supports his young wife and six year old son by collecting the honey.

This week’s film, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) shows a similar underprivileged environment but deals with a much different story line. This time we have what our host for the evening, Mr Michael Gray, introduced as a drama. He informed us that the film was directed and co-written by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a man whose name is now being mentioned in the same breath as Berman, Tarkovsky and I would add Michael Haneke, who has up to know been best known for Uzac (2002) Climates (2006) and Three Monkeys (2008) and that his style was best summarized by a comment made in his acceptance speech at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for Best Director “I dedicate this award to my beautiful and lonely country, which I love passionately” Mike was right when he suggested this would be obvious from tonight’s film.

The bleak but beautiful countryside that hides a murder victim.
Its early winter, we find three men, Yasar, Kenan and Kenan’s slow-witted brother Ramazan drinking and eating together in a garage workshop. The next scene we see three vehicles moving at speed through the night, two cars and a military style Jeep, whose passengers include policemen, uniformed paramilitaries, the local public prosecutor, a doctor and some grave diggers along with two handcuffed prisoners.  The detainees are homicide suspects and are being driven to various locations to locate a body that will allow them to be charged with murder.

The police chief questions his suspect.

A universal story that slowly and carefully unfolds, gradually giving up hints and ambiguities but leaving the final conclusions up to the audience to define. It’s a film where the influence of women is paramount but we hardly see any and when you do they have no dialogue.  The last half hour of the 157-minute film is almost an afterthought, leaving us with more questions than answers. But this is a wonderfully observed and extremely well written piece of work never completely hiding a unique sense of humour. Another of its highpoints is its beautifully composed photography by Ceylan’s regular cameraman Gokhan Tiryaki who uses naturalistic light to great advantage. This film give’s you an appetite to sample more of the Turkish directors work. Reality cinema at its very best, do not miss the chance to see this movie, on a big screen if at all possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment