Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a Turkish director/producer/writer reputed to be one of the most significant to have emerged this century. His films often deal with estrangement of the individual and are made with a low budget, often with amateur actors and family members.This film won the Cannes Grand Prix in 2011.
One of the characteristics of this filmmaker is that he leaves audiences to make up their own minds about what they are seeing – so this remarkable film has no answers, and is not for everybody. It is 157 minutes long and beautifully shot. It moves slowly through a deserted, cold and windy Anatolian countryside outside a small town and is based on real events. Over half of the film takes place during the night.
Three cars containing two men in handcuffs, a well- dressed police prosecutor, a local doctor, two gravediggers and police escorts are looking for a burial site. In the darkness of night several stops are made at likely places which all look alike. We do not know if the suspect knows or cannot find the place.
Apparently public servants in Turkey often start doing their jobs after 5 pm to get overtime wages, and in small towns drive cars that don’t start well on roads that are not familiar. They are also not prepared for a long night without food or the proper equipment to dig up the countryside.
During the long night we learn a little about the characters’ personal lives as conversations take place often about commonplace things like yoghurt, and the frequent toilet habits of the prosecutor. All of them have problems and the suspect is silent in the car and seems to have trouble remembering the site as he was intoxicated at the time of the burial.
Women are disturbingly absent but play an important part as a beautiful young woman appears to offer tea at a village and the suspect is reduced to tears, perhaps thinking of his own mortality. At the end of the film a mother and child seem to offer hope for the future.
This film will appeal to many film buffs. Many call it a “masterpiece”. I found it riveting.
The season starts at the Luna Leederville July 5.