Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Film

Drama

Firat Tanis in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Sat May 21 2011

Murder mysteries rarely run as deep as this long, dark night of the soul from Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director of ‘Uzak’ and ‘Three Monkeys’. Ceylan is a master of brooding stories defined by their wry questioning of human nature and often focused on men in crisis. He has an unflinching eye for the worst in all of us and for the black comedy and absurd banalities of everyday life.

For his sixth film, Ceylan has chosen his bleakest canvas yet: a murder investigation that begins in the dark wilds of the great Anatolian outdoors and ends in the cold light of an autopsy room. In tone, it’s Ceylan’s most epic and talky film yet. But don’t be fooled – it’s also his most mysterious and meditative.We meet a group of a dozen policemen, soldiers and others as they drive about on the steppes one night in search of a body with the two men suspected of burying it. It’s an ensemble piece, and for much of its 158-minute running time, the film itself feels like a painful, fruitless inquiry as it seeks themes, subjects and characters to latch on to. It’s a police procedural, yes, but you imagine that’s just an excuse to bring together a varied group of men in the face of a terrible event. It’s very far indeed from a traditional whodunnit.

However, the murder allows both Ceylan and us time to stop and consider what life means in the face of it being snatched away. He throws in some haunting, jolting moments to remind us that the answer is beyond our grasp: a flash of lightning illuminates a scary stone carving of a face and an apple mysteriously rolls down a stream with a little too much autonomy. Here, Ceylan’s visual style is less heightened, more down-to-earth than the more stylised ‘Three Monkeys’, but still some of the night-time scenes look like careful paintings, such is the precision of their lighting and composition.

This night feels like it might last forever. A convoy of cars pulls up at one spot, and another, and another… We hear snippets of chat about yoghurt or illnesses. Our focus shifts from a prosecutor to a doctor to the accused, or sometimes Ceylan pulls back and shows us the whole gathering, lit by the moon or headlights. The entourage takes tea at a village where a beautiful young woman serving them awakens new feelings in one of the prisoners and the story begins to take on a more intimate, spiritual dimension as it focuses increasingly on the character of the doctor. He’s a metropolitan outsider in a small town and a man struggling with a fiercely logical approach to life. Just as the woman stirs feelings in the prisoner, so this investigation unsettles the doctor – just as, we imagine, Ceylan hopes to unsettle us as he takes us with him on this compelling, masterly journey.
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Release details

UK release:

Fri Mar 16, 2012

Duration:

157 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:13
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|33
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nima

Very powerful movie of NBC, yet not his best. There are so many layers to this film, it communicates on so many levels. If you are stuck on the very first layer you will not enjoy it. Depth is not for everyone, some can only swim on the surface. The film is about not being able to communicate, almost every level on society from, a common NBC film generality. It is a murder story, yet it also is a slice of real life from the bitter but beautiful Anatolia. A society that hangs on their tribal,religious fear ridden ways of living with hopeless and inadequate state intervention to change that. This is not a simple murder story, even if you take the murder part of the story; it is unsolved from the beginning to the very end, and non-communicative will never understand the plot of the murder. Kenan is the real father of the victim's child. But is this the reason of the murder? No. There is a much sinister reason for this murder. The one's who really watch this film, remember Kenan's brother tells that he is the one who killed Yasar. Remember film starts with a scene, these three man drinking. Also, Yasar had no underwear when he was found dead and his trousers were down too, in the morgue a joke were mentioned as he was ready for action when he was found dead. Another point, Commisar Naci mentions that Yasar lived like a rat and died like one, he says "Don't get me started..." to talk about Yasar. Yasar has a bad name. Yasar has a young beautiful wife, but he did not get her pregnant. Somebody else did, his friend Kenan. Yasar is a homosexual, and he probably wanted to rape Kenan's poor brother. Also Kenan probably worried that he will do this to his son. This was a sort of an honour killing. Anatolian style. The doctor had to turn a blind eye. He probably thought this was the best for the one's left behind. No one there in that team of policeman, prosecutor etc. not aware of any of this, they do not communicate. They can't. This is a society all wrapped up in the inabilities, deficiencies, ugliness and all sorts. They can not look forward and see some sense. In all these ugliness, there is beauty, Anatolian landscape with its untouched, innocent, virginity and the Anatolian women. When those man see this beauty they can only cry.

nima

Very powerful movie of NBC, yet not his best. There are so many layers to this film, it communicates on so many levels. If you are stuck on the very first layer you will not enjoy it. Depth is not for everyone, some can only swim on the surface. The film is about not being able to communicate, almost every level on society from, a common NBC film generality. It is a murder story, yet it also is a slice of real life from the bitter but beautiful Anatolia. A society that hangs on their tribal,religious fear ridden ways of living with hopeless and inadequate state intervention to change that. This is not a simple murder story, even if you take the murder part of the story; it is unsolved from the beginning to the very end, and non-communicative will never understand the plot of the murder. Kenan is the real father of the victim's child. But is this the reason of the murder? No. There is a much sinister reason for this murder. The one's who really watch this film, remember Kenan's brother tells that he is the one who killed Yasar. Remember film starts with a scene, these three man drinking. Also, Yasar had no underwear when he was found dead and his trousers were down too, in the morgue a joke were mentioned as he was ready for action when he was found dead. Another point, Commisar Naci mentions that Yasar lived like a rat and died like one, he says "Don't get me started..." to talk about Yasar. Yasar has a bad name. Yasar has a young beautiful wife, but he did not get her pregnant. Somebody else did, his friend Kenan. Yasar is a homosexual, and he probably wanted to rape Kenan's poor brother. Also Kenan probably worried that he will do this to his son. This was a sort of an honour killing. Anatolian style. The doctor had to turn a blind eye. He probably thought this was the best for the one's left behind. No one there in that team of policeman, prosecutor etc. not aware of any of this, they do not communicate. They can't. This is a society all wrapped up in the inabilities, deficiencies, ugliness and all sorts. They can not look forward and see some sense. In all these ugliness, there is beauty, Anatolian landscape with its untouched, innocent, virginity and the Anatolian women. When those man see this beauty they can only cry.

Nicko

Intriguing and thought provoking; notwithstanding about an hour too long.

Ian

Fantastic, like a Russian play or novel (signalled by the doctor) with all the depth and subtlety you would find therein.

Ian

Fantastic, like a Russian play or novel (signalled by the doctor) with all the depth and subtlety you would find therein.

Daisy

Glad I don't have to go to the cinema with YOU Ed! Every wonderful film will not appeal to everyone and you are obviously one of those people who needs to be told what is going on, minute by minute. This film is about the fact that there are NO answers, no black and white, no stark 'good' and 'bad'. If you have gone through life looking for such certainties , you must be very tired by now!

Daisy

Glad I don't have to go to the cinema with YOU Ed! Every wonderful film will not appeal to everyone and you are obviously one of those people who needs to be told what is going on, minute by minute. This film is about the fact that there are NO answers, no black and white, no stark 'good' and 'bad'. If you have gone through life looking for such certainties , you must be very tired by now!

Ed

I agree with Chris. This movie is once of the worse I've ever seen. I can't believe I sat through the whole 2+ coma inducing hours of it. I went based on the glowing reviews and I really, really have to assume you are all on acid or something; because, you couldn't be talking about the same movie I saw. Not only was it totally boring and mind numbing, it had NO plot, NO point, and NO actual ending. Incredible, the worst thing was having wasted 3 or so hours of my life on this piece of crap. Wow!

Jeremy

A beautiful film with fascinating characters but the failure of the plot to develop or to clarify means that sadly the film will only be enjoyed by the pretentious.

Mavis Klein

Brilliant. Impossible to classify, except to say it's about the wonderfully complex ordinariness of life

Mavis Klein

Brilliant. Impossible to classify, except to say it's about the wonderfully complex ordinariness of life

Gurken

to make it 'great' and 'magnificent' and 'best film this year' and God knows what else people come up with, the film wld need a tighter story line. I do understand the allegories, symbolism, the context of Anatolia etc..but the film lacks something that keeps you gripped to be called a 'masterpiece'....really, what will you call 'The White Ribbon", "The lives of others", "The secret in your eyes', "Burnt by the sun', etc...if this is a 'bloody masterpiece' ? How about a bit of 'balancedness'...even when it comes to voicing online personal opinions. It's ok to call something ok if it is ok.

Layla

Well Sutton, you don't have to agree with me but I would say that if you, out there, want a fast moving film, don't want to think, don't want to wonder at what it is about men and families, not interested in 'unpacking' ambiguity or marvelling at sheer beauty & mystery, all the time looking for w easy answers, DON'T go to this film!

Layla

Well Sutton, you don't have to agree with me but I would say that if you, out there, want a fast moving film, don't want to think, don't want to wonder at what it is about men and families, not interested in 'unpacking' ambiguity or marvelling at sheer beauty & mystery, all the time looking for w easy answers, DON'T go to this film!

Sutton

Far from a masterpiece. The film is well shot with nice photography, but the film is slow and dull. I like Art house films as much as the next person, but this was hard work. Some of the dialogue in the car was amusing, but it does not make up for little happening.

Alan Pavelin

Boring, Chris? Why on earth did you go and see it, then? You sound like the kind of person who thought Malick's "The Tree of Life" boring.

Alan Pavelin

Boring, Chris? Why on earth did you go and see it, then? You sound like the kind of person who thought Malick's "The Tree of Life" boring.

Nickbod

This is a stunningly good film but don't go to it if you are an action junkie. If a dog has to have a bone, then it will not appreciate pure bone marrow. The film deals mostly with the plight of ageing men in a small community and the disappointments of life. The fulcrum of the film is the quiet arrival of the most beautiful young woman serving tea in an almost spooky interlude - so wonderfully lit- and she is an aching reminder of what might have been. All the men are isolated or have deep problems at home.

Nickbod

This is a stunningly good film but don't go to it if you are an action junkie. If a dog has to have a bone, then it will not appreciate pure bone marrow. The film deals mostly with the plight of ageing men in a small community and the disappointments of life. The fulcrum of the film is the quiet arrival of the most beautiful young woman serving tea in an almost spooky interlude - so wonderfully lit- and she is an aching reminder of what might have been. All the men are isolated or have deep problems at home.

Panos

Emotive and meditative, a must-see treat of high standards filmmaking.

Panos

Emotive and meditative, a must-see treat of high standards filmmaking.

chris

What are you all on about?! This was by far the most boring film I've ever seen! DO NOT waste your time or money on this