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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD]
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An epic and rigorous tale of a night and day in a murder investigation, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a beautifully photographed crime drama about police and prosecutors locating a buried body through one long night in the Anatolian steppes. In the short prologue three men are drinking and talking. Then a convoy of cars is travelling around the countryside at night as one of the men seen earlier is trying to remember where a body was buried. After several false leads and a rest in a remote village, the body is finally discovered early the next morning. In the course of the long investigation the characters and hidden thoughts of the main protagonists are gradually themselves exhumed.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a really good film. Not like anything you,d expect it to be but its very enjoyable. I am not going to write an in depth review because others have done that very well... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dela
Three carloads of Turkish policemen with accompanying prosecutor, doctor, diggers and two hand-cuffed prisoners arrested for murder search the bleak Anatolian countryside for the... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Antenna