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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strangely warm, very funny and intensely emotional study of Turkish life that will leave you, 2 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [DVD] (DVD)
Turkish film-maker Nuri Bilge Ceylan's new film `Once Upon a Time in Anatolia' is about the aftermath of a murder. The film starts at night, where a group of men go into the countryside to find the body of a murder victim. The group includes the two men accused of the murder,one of whom has confessed and states he will confirm where they buried the body.

The group consists of a police chief and some of his men, a public prosecutor, a doctor, some diggers and guards. Kenan, the confessor, leads the men on a merry dance, the night drags on into the early hours, the men grow tired and annoyed, taking their frustrations out on each other. You start to learn about these troubled souls, unravelling their fears and desires, their part in the scheme of things. Often in a comedic tone, you learn about corruption and the neglect suffered by many, and the ineptitude of the state exemplified by the diggers who forgot to bring a pick and a body bag!

The night scenes are beautifully shot, across the countryside using the cars headlights and scenes in a village by candlelight. Dreamlike scenes with a young woman, by candlelight, who becomes a moral beacon for many of the men to confront their actions, including Kenan who is so moved by her presence that he confesses to knowing exactly where the body is.

Scenes are slow and painstakingly considered, full of symbolism and thoughtfulness. One memorable scene sees an apple drop from a tree and the camera follows the apple going downhill into a stream, whilst in the background you can hear the men quarrelling over their laughable attempts at finding the corpse. Poetry exists not just in the beautiful but the mundane.

Having adapted to the pace of the film, you begin to realise this film concentrates on the mechanisms of the investigation rather than the murder itself. The men slowly reveal themselves but you are still often none the wiser, especially in the conversations between the world-weary prosecutor Nusret and the more sensitive Dr. Cemal, who become the central characters to the story. They exchange views on a mysterious death over a few lengthy scenes, through their silences and subtle facial expressions you learn a little more about each other but both are still so opaque that you are left to decide for yourself as to what they were really trying to reveal about their lives.

Everyone seems to be guilty of something, but Ceylan stubbornly and enigmatically refuses to reveal enough for you to feel as if its all made sense. You'll need a great deal of patience to watch what is quite a long film, but `Once Upon a Time in Anatolia' is a strangely warm, very funny and intensely emotional study of Turkish life that will leave you mesmerised.
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