Istanbul is an alluring place at the best of times, not least in the novels of Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk. The author opened an actual museum based on his 2008 tale of romantic obsession ‘Museum of Innocence’, featuring artefacts from the story. Now we have the film of the museum of the book, as the camera prowls Istanbul’s labyrinthine streets by night, pores over the museum’s exhibits of everyday bric-à-brac and offers a fascinating portal into Pamuk’s world, where history, fiction and memory swirl in a melancholy vortex.
As in his previous films on Joy Division and writer WG Sebald, director Grant Gee thrives on evoking a sense of place, delivering a hallucinatory exploration, complemented by a Pamuk interview. The author has even written a narration, leading us through his story’s key incidents to swooningly compelling effect. Gorgeous and haunting, this is a tantalising introduction to Pamuk’s work, and released in perfect time to accompany a display from the Istanbul museum at Somerset House.