It would be so easy to dismiss 'Home' (or 'Yurt' as it is sometimes titled) as a single-message protest movie, a low-key demonstration of dissent targeted at the gradual industrialisation of the stunning Anatolian landscape. But this short Turkish film is far more than that. In traditional art-house style, the filming is languid and mainly static, framing an endless succession of breath-taking vistas through which the protagonist stumbles and struggles. He's returned to his family's homeland in the hills, trying to mitigate his mid-life melancholy in the land he so loved as a child. Yet instead of giving solace to his soul, his walks bring him crushing disappointment, depression and disillusion. We're shown a stunning landscape of jagged peaks, tumbling rocks, massive skies. To us these scenes are simply beautiful. But his eyes see only what has been lost and what has changed: the absence of rare flowers; the re-routing of mountain streams via pipes to produce hydro-electric power; the missing ancient trees which were felled to make way for the roads; the mining which scars the surfaces of the land. All of which is the 'protest' part, and you can take/leave the film at that level, if you like.
There is a more complex message lurking beneath the surface, however. The protagonist is a modern, city man who lives in Istanbul and works in the construction industry. He despises the changes to the land, yet he spends his evenings on his iBook, surfing the net. He appears to be almost physically crushed by encroaching civilisation and the loss of the natural environment... yet he rails against this by talking on his mobile phone. Halfway up a mountain. Taking photos with his digital camera. Each of his interactions with the people who still live in and on the land further illustrates the complexity of the social and political situation in modern Turkey. The protagonist can indulge his melancholia because of the relative wealth of his professional status, and when he observes others in far worse personal situations he can't seem to reconcile the equanimity, even their apparent satisfaction, with his own disquiet. The scene with the armless man, cheerily playing backgammon and drinking in the pub, is particularly powerful. Underlying all that is one single human truth. It doesn't matter how wonderful your childhood was and how much you loved that childhood home. It resides in another land once you reach maturity, and there is no way to return.
There is no real plot to 'Home'. No conclusion, no sweeping understanding. (And no yurts, by the way). It's 75 minutes of picture-postcard visuals, and a snapshot of some of the tensions affecting modern Turkey. The English subtitles are entertainingly wonky at times. Some people will find this film boring. To others it will seem odd. A few will find it ineffably beautiful. 8/10