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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful film, misleading reviews
The reviews quoted on the sleeve of this DVD give a totally misleading impression of the nature of the film. "A thriller as challenging as Antonioni's Blow-up..." says The Observer; "Murder mysteries rarely run so deep" says Time Out.
This is NOT a thriller and it is NOT a murder mystery, and I'm concerned that people might end up disliking it simply because it's not...
Published on 4 Nov. 2012 by G. Day

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes a little too dark...
The best thing about this film is the story: it covers the search for a body that may or may not have been recently buried somewhere in the countryside then afterwards moves to an unexpected and unusual conclusion. But it takes place mainly in the hours of darkness and after a while of peering at my screen I began to wonder if the lengthy lack of lighting was a budgetary...
Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer


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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful film, misleading reviews, 4 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD] (DVD)
The reviews quoted on the sleeve of this DVD give a totally misleading impression of the nature of the film. "A thriller as challenging as Antonioni's Blow-up..." says The Observer; "Murder mysteries rarely run so deep" says Time Out.
This is NOT a thriller and it is NOT a murder mystery, and I'm concerned that people might end up disliking it simply because it's not what they were led to expect. Even The Guardian's description of the film as "stunning" and "exhilarating" is a bit deceptive, because this is much more slow-burning than those words suggest.
There's not much plot, not much action, not much suspense and not much mystery, but the absence of these ingredients clears the way for a constant stream of understated visual poetry, a warm glow of human sympathy, a recurrent vein of unforced humour and a quiet, humble dignity that would not otherwise make themselves heard. The pleasure is in the journey, not in the destination.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and psychologically believable, 2 Dec. 2012
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Be forewarned that this film attempts to tell a story in an authentic, almost real-time approach, which necessarily removes the sense of drama and excitement that many people expect in a movie.

Personally, however, I found Ceylan's approach captivating. The result is more like epic literature than film. I think this has to do with the harmony between script, actors and photography. If we are going to be confronted with long takes of pensive, brooding faces, those faces had better be interesting and the photography had better be good. They are. The cinematography captures every nuance of the superbly reserved acting. For despite all the dialog (it is Ceylan's most "talkative" film to date), the spiritual depth captured by the camera remains mostly unspoken.

Another reviewer called the film "atmospheric". I think that term sums it up well. This is emphatically not a "murder mystery" as a review quoted on the back cover claims. It is odd that New Wave Films have used such a misleading quote (which was probably taken out of context). People who watch it based on such a quote will be disappointed twice: not only is it not a murder mystery in the classic sense, i.e. a thriller that builds tension until the crime is solved, it is not really even a murder mystery at all because the film's central focus is a social-psychological portrait of a group of men, and not the crime itself which merely functions as a sort of loose framework.

There are too many beautiful scenes to recount them all, but one of the most memorable takes place at the village mayor's home when the investigators show up ín the middle of the night and are treated to his warm hospitality. This scene brilliantly illustrates the local effects of the breakdown of traditional village societies in the wake of increasing urbanisation. What would you suppose is the connection between emigration and morgues?? The black humor inherent in the answer is exquisite -- and thoroughly believable.

In sum, watch this if you love beautiful photography and phychological depth, but not if you are expecting some sort of thriller.

The extras include a making-of and an interview with Ceylan at Cannes. The obtrusive interviewer has a tendency to interrupt or change the subject just at the point when things are getting really interesting, but nevertheless the interview provides interesting insights into Ceylan's creative process. The same goes for the making-of documentary, in which Ceylan's directing style is laid bare. Highly engrossing.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No need to shout..., 13 July 2012
This review is from: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD] (DVD)
Most murder mysteries take you on a journey to find the criminal, this one introduces the murderers within the first few minutes and then sets off to find the victim. The killers, who appear to have murdered their victim in a drunken stupor, can't remember where they've left the body and so a fractious band of men, including the police chief, a doctor, soldiers and local prosecutor, spend all night searching the deserted countryside by the light of their headlamps trying to locate it. The story, such as it is, is only a ruse to spend time with these men - and it's very much about men as barely a female voice is heard throughout the movie. As these men bicker and talk, mostly about banalities, they slowly reveal themselves, all their petty rivalries and hierarchies, their frustrations and occasionally their moral indignation at the events they're immersed in.

On paper, it sounds like the perfect arthouse-snob's movie - it's Turkish, it's over two and a half hours long, nothing really happens, people talk a lot, the central crime isn't really what it's about and it even had the temerity to win at Cannes - but don't let any of that put you off. On screen, it's luminous with moments of jaw-dropping cinematography, much of it shot at dusk when they must have had minutes to catch a shot before the light went, and there are some setups that must have taken forever to get right - just how many apples did they roll down that hill?

Slight spoiler alert! The last line of dialogue comes some minutes before the end and, like much of the movie before it, is somehow banal and profound at the same time. The minutes that follow contain no dialogue but are far from silent - we hear the sounds of childhood and of death, while onscreen we watch a middle-aged man reluctantly cross a one-way divide somewhere between the two. It's certainly not for everybody, but for those with the patience it's one of those slow-burn movies that's still smouldering in your mind days after you see it. Highly recommended.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unsettling, atmospheric and utterly gripping, 21 May 2012
This review is from: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD] (DVD)
The storyline could be something taken from a Coen brothers film and at times this does have a sprinkling of the same wit and the same obscure, existential intentions- particularly of the more recent work. However, there is little that seems worthy of comparison with what this film manages to achieve, with the sometimes stark, sometimes magical beauty of its photography.

The film is shot for the most part at night and so the locations within which they attempt to track down the victim's corpse are steeped in an other worldliness, not really belonging to places we might immediately recognise and yet still full of the minutiae of human drama- the death of a friend's wife, buffalo cheese (or is it yoghurt?), a child's medication- all unfolding around the incidence of a brutal murder, the motive of which is never fully explained.

The final shot- which I will not describe for fear of lessening its effect- is simply haunting and I get goose-bumps thinking of it even now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Death somewhere outside paradise, 21 May 2013
There's been a murder. The body is buried somewhere in the Turkish countryside. A laughably large group of local officials has been gathered to escort the murderers to the corpse. Trouble is, the perps were drunk when they did the deed. Arguments, in-fighting, politics, and existential ponderings ensue.

Will they find the body? And what'll happen when they do? Whatever happens, it'll take a while to get there. Writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is in no rush. Two and a half hours could have been condensed to two - but when it looks this pretty, who's counting?

Apparently based on true events, what starts as a work of "slow cinema" - lingering shots of bad 80s cars crawling across brown fields - gives way to philosophical contemplation and absurdist black comedy, before finishing in the territory of very moving, very human drama. This is like Michael Haneke in playful mode: brutal reality beautifully framed. Although for me Ceylan possesses greater warmth and less bitterness. The elegance of the film's ending - a devastating dilemma that sends ethical questions tumbling through one's mind - just about justifies the ponderousness that preceded it.

The performances, often possessing an improvisational quality, are exquisite, with detail and nuance bringing to life believably tortured, fallible characters. Ceylan's direction is of a similar calibre - uncannily he knows when to hold a shot and when to pan or zoom to maximise the impact. An apple rolls down a hill and is captured by the flow of a stream: pure Tarkovsky, symbolising (for me) the chaos of an existence where the tiniest quirks in the terrain can alter one's course or stop it in its tracks.

This is a deeply involving, humorous, atmospheric, and emotionally dense film - if one is willing to submit to its glacial demands.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes a little too dark..., 15 Jun. 2013
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The best thing about this film is the story: it covers the search for a body that may or may not have been recently buried somewhere in the countryside then afterwards moves to an unexpected and unusual conclusion. But it takes place mainly in the hours of darkness and after a while of peering at my screen I began to wonder if the lengthy lack of lighting was a budgetary consideration. For me, because I do not appreciate lengthy night sequences, I am awarding just three stars. Otherwise it would definitely have been four.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cinema is a visual medium, meet one of the masters, 3 Jan. 2013
By 
Rob Simpson "noframeof" (Middlesbrough, England) - See all my reviews
Honours for the most beautifully photographed film of 2012 to Nuri Bilge Ceylan's once upon a time in Anatolia. Using the Turkish countryside, the auteur made one of the most visually arresting films you're ever likely to see. That alone would be enough to warrant a watch on the biggest screen possible, after all cinema is a visual medium above all else. But there's more, the glacial pacing works here unlike that which could be said for other euro entries thanks to the films theological and existential underpinning and the open pastiche of the `once upon a time' aspect of its title. There standout scene happens in a restaurant, showing just how dazzling a film-maker Ceylan is, under the divisive pacing he is a whiz with the camera, using it to create images and meaning as well as something of outstanding visual beauty. Anatolia turns the police procedural into something far more reflective and interesting, a world away from the formula and genre tropes. With all these statements and all this gushing, once upon a time in Anatolia is almost entirely condemned to the arthouse crowd, but whenever was that a bad fate for a film to suffer?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep and involving, Yes , but enjoyable?, 9 Feb. 2015
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Protracted movie covering one very long night in the bleak landscape of Anatolia,Turkey.
Its an empty countryside in a part of Turkey that's poverty stricken and stuck in the middle ages attitudinally
Is It any Good?, well that depends on whether you like long foreign 'road' films with very little in the way of action but a huge dose of melancholia.
Performances that are so natural as to make you wonder if actors were used at all, it has a humanity all of its own and things develop incredible significance such as the visit to the Mayors house in the night when his beautiful daughter appears and creates such an impact of emotive introspection in the all male visitors in this charged environment which lingers in the mind long after the film concludes.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Past Currents and Modern Sultans, 24 July 2012
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD] (DVD)
Takes the slow languid road through rolling bare Anatolian windswept hills and then driving down the long grassy plains into the barren minds of a group of middle aged men. The film is philosophic rather than fast paced action. Backed with wide sweeping photography roving inside the cracked insides of decaying buildings, the external world is finally brought into a concentrated focus.

The men, middle aged, bald, weary, act out their lives in inner dreams to escape their various realities, all founded and bounded on mis shaped forms of human wreckage. No dramatic action but a slow coil, minus any heroics and action packed sling them against the wall and fire on all cylinders cops and robbers of the West. The film is a slow grind of mistaken emotional signals leading to a group of males to embark on a journey. Each sending a sting into the corps, to settle and then fester.

After seeing three stubbled conspirators in muffled conversation, sitting behind a blurred window we are gently led to the murder suspect, already confessed, trapped in a car. As the film jumps into a scene where the police and the culprits, locked in the car drive forward into less of a whodunnit, more of a whydunnit. Searching cars seek the body. All seemingly secondary to the thoughts, arguments, reflections that emanate from the men as they embark upon their quest.

Philosophic fragments on the meaning of living, not couched in grand gestures, but in throwaway observations dominate the film, as apples roll and then rot, the beauty of the village elder's daughter captivates the men. Ultimately the women steal the scenes with their brief beauty, whilst the masculine world of guns are constantly clocked into the endless hills and numerous fountains which confuse them. As all along, the "Arab" details the seething hatred lying underneath the desolate landscape. Then there is the past, which appears as fragmented day dreams, rising up to encase them.

As the insights arising from the men's lives are externalised, all their relationships with women are revealed as shattered; suicide, divorced, another escaping from his wife and son into constant police overtime, then there is the life of the main culprit. His separation from a woman underpins the whole structure.

As the men journey onwards they begin to bond, and their various idiosyncracies emerge. The film is a piece of high emotional literacy, but offers no thrills, just the impact of everyday gore as one truth emerges towards the end, the inner brutality quietly revealed. The autopsy scene jars in relation to the rest of the film, but if you are expecting anything to be tied up, then you will need to watch again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like watching the proverbial paint dry, 25 Dec. 2014
By 
JOHN GREEN (Basingstoke, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD] (DVD)
I just don't get the rave reviews for this film. I know it's supposed to reflect a real-time investigation, with all the attendant human imperfections and mistakes, but even real-time proceeds more quickly than this.

There is evidence of some sly humour in the background, and the night-time shots of the Anatolian steppes are quite stunning (which is why it gets two stars rather than one), but, in the end, this is a movie that just drags towards its conclusion without exhibiting any real heart.
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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD]
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD] by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (DVD - 2012)
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