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November 03, 2011

Starz Denver Film Festival 2011 - Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Once Upon a Time In Anatolia.jpg

Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da
Nuri Bilge Ceylan - 2011
Cinema Guild 35mm Film

The first third of Once Upon a Time in Anatolia takes place in the dark. The symbolism is obvious, once you follow what's going on. What is first seen are lights from cars, seen in a distance. After a while it's gleaned that one is watching a police investigation in progress. A prisoner has buried something, and does not recall where. Landscapes and landmarks are hard to distinguish with no available illumination. Starting and stopping, the exact location is eventually found. A body is dug up, and brought back for an autopsy. Left in the dark are questions regarding the relationship between the accused men and their victim, motivation, and whether the victim might have been buried alive.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan has a website devoted to his photography. And the images are similar to those found in his films. In an interview with the British newspaper, The Guardian, Ceylan discusses how he likes the subtle and the hidden, to make the audience an active participant in watching the film. So it goes with this film.

The story takes place over a night through the following day. Ceylan arguable flips the conventional police procedural narrative by concentrating on what would be fleeting moments in most other films. The first fifty minutes or so is also a "road film" where no one can clearly see where they are going. It's a leisurely investigation where everyone stops to have a late night dinner in a small village, where the lights go out, leaving everyone again in the dark. This is not a film for people who demand constant action or exposition. There are indelible images, the camera pauses to view trees swaying in the wind, a giant sculpture of a face carved on a rocky hill is glimpsed when lightning flashes, a young woman's face is observed serving drinks, illuminated by a small lamp in the otherwise dark house of the village headman. If there is any conclusion, it is that people can remain unknowable.

There are a couple moments of mordant humor. A cell phone's ring is the theme to The Godfather. Even though there is a search for a corpse, no one is prepare to transport the dead body, leading to a discussion of which car trunk has the most room. Critical discussion of Ceylan's films touch upon the cultural changes within Turkey, and in Once Upon a Time . . ., in the scene in the small village, characters discuss how only the elders remain, while the children move to the bigger cities or to Germany. Ceylan doesn't press his points, but as in his previous films, there is the continual sense of disconnection and dislocation.

(Viewed as a DVD screener)

Posted by peter at November 3, 2011 08:00 AM


I really like this man, his films and everything that is to do with him...I know him as a person, this may souund stupid to you but ı do know him.....well, watch this film, show your respect to this amazinng man:

Posted by: movieman at November 7, 2011 06:26 PM