Search

Review: Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

08:31 10 April 2012

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Archant

The grand sweeping art movie – of the type produced by Tarkovsky, Angelopoulos, Bela Tarr and Zvyagintsev – adhere to formulas as rigid as those governing action films.

Vast, empty but beautifully photographed landscapes, long unbroken takes, doom-ladened air, allegorical stories that unfurl at a steady pace with cryptic dialogue.

With his fourth feature, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has made a film to move him into the pantheon, yet seems to have done it while lightening up a bit.

The scope is mythic yet as down-to-earth as an episode of Casualty. Once Upon a Time is a masterly examination of what it is to be human but it is located in that most commercial of forms, a police procedural, albeit one with a limited amount of procedure.

Apart from a brief prologue, the events take place over the course of a single evening and following morning. A convoy of police cars and army trucks drive around the remote hills of Anatolia, central Turkey, trying to find the location in which a suspect claims to have buried the body of a missing man.

The suspect though has problems remembering exactly where it is, all the various tree/fountain combinations looking much alike, which irritates the local police chief who is under pressure from a prosecutor.

Sure it is slow moving and serious, but also humorous and enthralling. In popular culture the gallows humour of police congregations gathered around a corpse has become a cheapened and shallow cliché, a callous sop to the audience, flattering them that they have been somehow exempted from this lottery.

Ceylan gives gallows humour back its dignity, shows what it serves to the teller.

Even the best European art house fare invariably tests eyelid resolve – Tarkovsky helpfully included a five-minute midpoint nap break in Stalker. Ceylan includes a similar interlude, a dreamy period of rest and reflection as the team take a break from the search, but his film grips the attention for every one of its 157 minutes.

I’m normally a little sceptical of foreign language films that call themselves Once Upon a Time In; it always seems like hustle, a cheap allusion to better films.

This though carries the name proudly. It is a complete expression of the human experience from the philosophical abstract to the down-to-earth interest in what makes people tick.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (15)

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Starring: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel, Ahmed Mumtaz Taylan and Firat Tanis

Length: 157 mins

*****

0 comments

Other Thetford and Brandon events

Mon, 14:19
Then and Now: The cast of the new Dad's Army film starring Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Tom Courtenay, Bill Paterson, Michael Gambon, Blake Harrison and Daniel Mays

Dad’s Army has always had a special place in the hearts of East Anglian viewers. David Croft, the co-writer and creator of the classic TV series, lived in Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, while much of the location filming was done in and around Thetford. We have always claimed Dad’s Army as part of Suffolk’s cultural heritage, so we were always going to have a keen interest in the new big screen version of the film. So what’s it like?

Mon, 11:48
Scenes from the 2016 Chinese New Year Celebrations held at King's Lynn Town Hall. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Weeks of celebrations are underway in Norfolk as people welcome the start of the Chinese New Year today.

Saturday, February 6, 2016
James Bay at Thetford Forest

Singer-songwriter James Bay doesn’t get much time to reconnect with his North Herts roots since taking the music world by storm.

Friday, January 29, 2016
Ex West Suffolk College student Alex Unsworth who recently worked on the latest Star Wars film is revisiting his old college to speak to students.

At just 20-years-old, former West Suffolk College arts student Alex Unsworth has an impressive CV, having recently landed a job designing sets for a horror film after learning his trade on the latest Star Wars movie.

Most Read

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 4°C

min temp: 1°C

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Thetford and Brandon e-edition today E-edition