Winter Sleep – Kis Uykusu (2014) Film. Director : Nuri Bilge Ceylan




  • Aydin, a former actor, runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal with whom he has a stormy relationship and his sister Necla who is suffering from her recent divorce. In winter as the snow begins to fall, the hotel turns into a shelter but also an inescapable place that fuels their animosities…

    Written by Cannes Film Festival  


Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep is a huge, sombre and compelling tragicomedy set in Turkey’s vast Anatolian steppe; it moves at the pace of a north Atlantic convoy. This film is avowedly inspired by Anton Chekhov, and since its appearance at this year’s Cannes film festival, critics have specifically identified in it Chekhov’s stories Excellent People (1886) and The Wife (1892), although in an interview with me, the director denied having intended or created any sort of adaptation.

Winter Sleep won the Palme d’Or, and that was a triumph about which I had complicated feelings, perhaps like those of Ian McEwan fans when Amsterdam won the Booker prize in 1998. There was a sense that this wasn’t quite the best contender, nor quite the winner’s own best work – but nevertheless clearly that of a supremely praiseworthy, prizeworthy artist.

It’s a film whose geography has a daunting grandeur: the vast and wintry plain, with its rocky forms, often looks like that of an alien planet, or a planet on which the characters we see are the last humans left. This gigantic setting creates a mesmerising, if slightly mis-matched context for the pain, pathos and absurdity of a sharply observed, intimate domestic drama.

Haluk Bilginer plays the insufferably conceited Aydin, a retired, middle-aged actor who has inherited his late parents’ provincial hotel out here, along with the freehold of surrounding cottages. Running the business and collecting rent is delegated to his manager Hidayet (Ayberk Pekcan), allowing Aydin the leisure to write a smug, preposterous column for the local paper called the Voice of the Steppe, to bore his guests with memories of having once met Omar Sharif, and to patronise his beautiful young wife Nihal (Melisa Sözen) and divorced sister Necla (Demet Akbag). They have come to hate Aydin – and themselves –for being dependent on his unearned wealth and trapped with him in this icy wasteland, far from the Istanbul they dream about. Bilginer’s performance shows how Aydin has cultivated the style of a worldly man. It is a mask of knowing condescension that does not conceal his own loneliness, disappointment and fear.

Winter Sleep fascinates, saddens and occasionally amuses, at various points on its vast canvas, although I couldn’t help feeling that the landscape’s enormity worked better for Ceylan’s more violently disturbing film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011), and that the bittersweet Chekhovian pastoral here might have been more intelligible in a more metropolitan or at least less isolated and more socialised setting, such as his Uzak (Distant) of 2002, although I accept the important point is that they are isolated. Tellingly, and touchingly, poor Aydin prides himself on the seriousness of his lost thespian career and on never having done a soap opera. Nihal asks the spiky and self-dramatising Necla if she hasn’t perhaps been watching too many soap operas. The awful truth is that their life is like a soap opera, but played out with a dreary and glacial slowness, even more oppressive in the hotel’s winter off-season.

The movie has an oceanic swell, or surge of emotion that appears to be building somewhere in its depths, but never quite breaks into a wave.

In fact, the film’s one real dramatic flourish, when Nihal meets Aydin’s resentful tenant Ismail (Nejat Isler), seems overstated and misjudged. The extended dialogue scenes ring truer. Aydin will have long, bitter, subdued conversations with Neclan and Nihal separately, which take place in flickering firelight, as if the end of the world has come and there is no more electricity. They are conversations for which the audience must readjust their sense of conventional dramatic pace, in order to appreciate the unbearable pain and anger that everyone is afraid to express fully, for fear of admitting to the world their own anguish.

The first shot in Winter Sleep is of a smoke or steam wispily rising from the soil (oddly, I thought of the hellish vapour coming from the grate in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver). The land is like a fen or a bayou, alternately icy and muddy, essentially hostile, habitable only at enormous human cost: a vision of its inhabitants’ mental landscape.

Ceylan paints an absorbing, compassionate portrait of people who are making a painful accommodation with each other, and with a world that rejected them long before they thought about rejecting it.




 20 Nov 2014

A beast, a beauty, a castle in the snow. Winter Sleep, the new film from the Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has all the key components of a fairy tale, but its magic blows in whispering breaths, raising the hairs on your arms even as you barely notice the air’s movement.

This is a bold, intently serious film, and a justified winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Festival, in which we watch a failing marriage unravel in a mountaintop hotel on the Anatolian steppe. (Think The Shining as retold by Chekhov, without the axe and spooks.)

The proprietor is Mr Aydin (veteran Turkish stage actor and sometime EastEnders cast member Haluk Bilginer), a retired thesp who carries himself like the region’s kindly baron, or a Shakespearean king, and whose many business interests pervade the village down below.

Early on, Aydin is driving to the village, where the houses nestle and burrow into the enormous rocky folds of the landscape. Then, with a low crack, a stone breaks one of the car windows. It was thrown by a boy who you assume is just a troublemaker, although Ceylan gradually reveals a motive behind this apparently unprompted attack. It turns out that most people have at least one very good reason to dislike Aydin: even his wife, whose charity fundraising efforts he dismisses laughingly, criticising the state of her bookkeeping like a teacher ticking off a particularly slow pupil.

Only one man, the obsequious imam, makes a concerted effort to get along with him, although Aydin is annoyed by his flattering talk and insincere, teeth-baring grins, and obliquely insults him in his newspaper column.

His sister is unimpressed. “It reads like the writer has adopted certain values just to make himself popular,” she says. “It stinks of sentimentality.”

“I wish my threshold of self-deception was as low as yours,” he snaps back. Over the film’s three hours and 16 minute running time, there’s a great deal of snapping and counter-snapping. Ceylan and his excellent cast the picture around conversations: long, literate, circuitous, psychologically searching, sometimes funny, almost always passive-aggressive. These unfold and refold in fire-lit rooms, covering everything from mushroom-picking to the nature of evil and guilt, each one casting another shaft of light on Aydin’s monumental, fragile ego.

In practical terms, this makes for a lot of scanning subtitles, although the closeness of Aydin’s life to a stage play is all part of the game, and Ceylan often sends its theatricality echoing crazily back on itself.

Ceylan’s films are an acquired taste, and his oddball isolation drama Uzak and masterful police procedural Once Upon A Time in Anatoliaare perhaps easier routes into his work for the curious. But this is more fiendishly intelligent stuff from the director, nudging back the limits of what we expect of cinema and also what it expects of us: a mighty tale of what becomes of a man when his heart goes into hibernation.





Three Monkeys (Uc Maymun) (2008) Film. Director : Nuri Bilge Ceylan


Near the Bosporus, Eyüp and Hacer live in a modest flat with their son Ismail, in his twenties, who’s doing poorly in his studies. Few words pass between them, and a past family tragedy brings sorrow daily. On a rainy night, Eyüp’s boss Servet, a wealthy businessman who’s entering politics, hits a pedestrian on a lonely road. He drives off and offers money to Eyüp if Eyüp will take the fall – probably a six-month sentence. Eyüp agrees, and while he’s in prison, Ismail wants his mother to ask Servet for enough money to buy a car. Servet, in turn, desires Hacer. How can this play out? (Imdb)

Philip French

The Observer, Sunday 15 February 2009

As a kind of cultural globalisation takes over world cinema, one should be grateful for directors such as the Hungarian Béla Tarr, the Romanian Cristian Mungiu, the Iranians Abbas Kiarostami and Bahman Ghobadi and the Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan who keep alive a personal, regional and stylistically individual form of film-making. Their work is never likely to become widely popular at home or abroad, but they’re beacons of hope for the future of a troubled art.

A photographer by profession, Ceylan turned to film-making in the mid-90s and works largely with non-professional actors and small budgets. He belongs in the tradition of Tarkovsky, Bergman, Antonioni, Angelopoulos and other masters that seemed in the 60s and 70s to be on the point of becoming a new or, at least, parallel mainstream but has now been marginalised. His new film, The Three Monkeys, like its two predecessors, won a major award at Cannes, in this case the prize for best director, and it begins with that familiar dramatic device for the creation of tension, guilt and dangerous consequences – the hit-and-run accident.

Here, a man kills a pedestrian at night on a country road. It transpires that he is a politician, Servet, and in order for the event not to affect a forthcoming election he bribes his driver Eyüp, who wasn’t with him on this occasion, to take the rap. He’ll go on getting paid during his nine-month sentence and at the end will receive a decent pay-off.

The title is a reference to the Sino-Japanese image of the three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, suggesting this film is a moral fable about the consequences of evasion, corruption and suppression. Servet thinks he’s doing what’s best for his party and the country: he’s a supporter of Prime Minister Erdogan and the occasion is the 2007 general election that ended in a landslide victory. Eyüp believes he’s acting like a good servant, but, more important, he’s getting the money that will get a better home for his handsome wife Hacer and provide for the education of his teenage son Ismail.

Nothing good comes of these actions. One way and another, everyone’s life is affected, indeed in some measure destroyed, but like much else in the film the judgments are left to the viewer. Are we dealing with national problems of widespread social corruption, with the weaknesses of a set of individuals or the operation of a malignant fate of a kind that stalks us all? From the start, Ceylan draws us into the very narrative fabric. In the opening scene, using silence, long takes, available light and dramatic compositions, he makes us ask questions about what we are seeing. Who is this man? What has he done? How will he react? There are long gaps in time between individual sequences and seemingly important facts are never made plain.

Ismail comes home with a badly cut hand and a bruised face, but he never reveals to his mother, or to us, whether these wounds came from brawling or from political demonstrations. They have the effect, however, of persuading her to visit the politician and seek an advance on the bribe to buy a car for the boy. This in turn leads to an affair, which is only discovered when Ismail returns home early to find his mother making love to Servet. When Eyüp emerges from jail, he’s furious about the car and his suspicions over his wife’s infidelity seem confirmed by a message on her cell phone. For most of the film, the images are desaturated, but during the scene of reunion, Hacer is wearing a red slip, which both excites her husband and drives him to violence.

In the family’s background is the death of another son, some 15 years earlier, and his father and surviving brother are haunted by visions of this loss. In the future lies a repetition of the incident that launches the film, only here the conspiracy is initiated by Eyüp. Though perhaps not quite as good as Climates, Ceylan’s last picture, this is a film of formidable power that sticks in the mind.

Two sequences in particular stand out. In one, the politician rejects the obsessed Hacer with great brutality, but the camera is placed nearly 50 yards away across a field. In the other, the film’s closing long shot, the husband stands on the balcony of their ramshackle apartment block to the south of Istanbul, his back to the camera, looking out over the Sea of Marmara as an electric storm begins to stir.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da) (2011) Film. Director : Nuri Bilge Ceylan


In the rural area around the Anatolian town of Keskin, the local prosecutor, police commissar and Doctor Cemal are leading a search for a victim of a murder that a suspect named Kenan and his mentally challenged brother confessed to. However, that search is proving more difficult than expected as Kenan is fuzzy as to the body’s exact location. As the group continues looking, they can’t help but chat amongst themselves about both trivia and their deepest concerns in an investigation that is proving more trying than any of them expected.(Imdb)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Quietly spectacular … Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.

Few films are about simply waiting and talking, but this is one; a film in which, for most of the time, nothing appears to be happening – but, in fact, everything is. Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s new film is long and difficult, and perhaps not for everyone, but I can only say it is a kind of masterpiece: audacious, uncompromising and possessed of a mysterious grandeur in its wintry pessimism. Nothing in it reminds me of Sergio Leone, incidentally – unless it is that long, long wait at the beginning of Once Upon a Time in the West, with the keening wind-wheel and sighing desert. Actually, this has something of Antonioni, or Chekhov or even the later stories of Tolstoy.

The action extends over a single, rainy, sleepless night and into a grim morning at the workplace. A convoy of official vehicles, containing police officers, the state prosecutor, a medical examiner and guys with shovels are accompanying two prisoners out into the eerie expanse of the Anatolian steppe: the plain where Asia reaches west into Iran, Armenia and Turkey. The men are murder suspects, but are evidently about to plead guilty and, perhaps in a sentencing deal, have promised to lead officers to a body. One, Kenan (Firat Tanis), is all-important to the police, and this haunted wraith of a man is the centre of the film.

Their excursion started at the end of the working day, with everyone anticipating a quick discovery, but to the cops’ fury, the prisoners become muddled; they can’t remember exactly where the corpse is in the darkness. The quest continues into the deepest night, stopping periodically at likely-seeming spots, and at one stage, for a meal from a local mayor.

There is mostly nothing to do but talk, but the occasion inspires something other than ribaldry. When they see how heart-stoppingly beautiful the mayor’s daughter is, they become thoughtful, solemn. Kenan is reduced to inexplicable tears. Mortality has become very real, as it always will, to any of us, in the middle of the night. And always the presence of that victim – out there somewhere in the rainy blackness – nags at their minds, exhuming dark thoughts. Ceylan shows that it has a sobering, clarifying, perhaps even ennobling effect.

The reason for the crime is never spelled out, although there is a discovery that casts a new light on Kenan’s relationship with the victim. What is important is the ancillary, internal drama, the interactions between the careworn officials made possible by this deeply disagreeable task. Without the narcosis of sleep or work, they are forced to think about their lives, or perhaps about the fact that, in TS Eliot’s words, they have nothing to think about. The handsome, distinguished state prosecutor Nusret (Taner Birsel) – a man who prides himself on his resemblance to Clark Gable — recounts an anecdote to the young doctor, Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner) intended to demonstrate that death can just come along and there’s nothing we can do. But the doctor, a scientist and rationalist, questions his story in such a way as to open up a terrifying insight into the prosecutor’s life.

Ceylan displays pure, exhilarating mastery in this film: it is made with such confidence and flair. In one shot, he shows us a tableau of five men in a car, two cops in the front, and between the two officials in the back, there is Kenan, his gaunt figure in darkness. The four law-mens’ faces are illuminated in the faint flame-light, but Kenan’s is just an outline: and Ceylan holds the shot, moving the camera forward just slightly, until it dawns on us how disturbing his silent presence is.

Perhaps his most quietly spectacular flourish comes near the end: a virtuoso moment. The doctor, exhausted after this punishing night, comes into his office and switches on his computer: he notices – as he must surely do every time – personal photos of himself. Ceyland enigmatically suspends the film’s action just to show us these images. A series of stills fill the screen: the doctor as a young man, in love. There is something heartbreaking in it.

We are heading towards a terrible anti-miracle, as a discovery comes about the victim and a decision must be made about how much to reveal. We are witness to the jettisoning of Cemal’s innocence, and the final loss of that refined, boyish quality that had intrigued and amused the cops during their long night: it has been his own rite of passage into the disillusioned manhood that everyone else joined a long time ago – police and murderers both. With his two early features, Distant (2002) and Climates (2006), Ceylan has showed himself a superb film-maker. This is his greatest so far.

Distant (2002) (Uzak) Film. Director : Nuri Bilge Ceylan


Mahmut, a 40 year old independent photographer, is a “village boy made good” at least professionally in the big city – Istanbul in this case. After his wife leaves him, he falls into an existential crisis. Then comes his cousin Yusuf, who left his native village after a local factory closed down, effectively unemploying over half the local men. He looks to Istanbul for salvation: a job on board a ship sailing abroad, at once exciting and crucial to supporting his family in the desperately poor village. The distance between the two men is apparent at once, and becomes increasingly pronounced. Whereas Mahmut is adusted to big city life and suffers from many of its neuroses, Yusuf is a lonely, excentric country worker with annoying nervous and hygienic habits, and a sick mother back home he must somehow support. This intimate drama was filmed in the director’s apartment in Istanbul. (Imdb)

Uzak is a great turkish movie that tells us about “the meaninglessness of life” in a very meaningful way. The story is about two very strong characters, a man and his cousin. the man, mahmut, is a strong character whose life is at distant with peoples around him because his self-prideness, which costs him his married life and his awkward relationship with yusuf, his cousin from a rural village seeking job in Istanbul.

The cast is might not the professional actors (they are nuri’s best friend, wife, mother, and cousin), but their performance, especially for two lead cast, is quiet stunning. Muzaffer Özdemir as mahmut is successful to deliver subtle yet powerful performance as the self-pride man who actually has a good heart but never really know how to response like a normal people in a certain situation. HIs most memorable performance for me is in the closing scene, which i found very beautiful both physically and psychologically. And credit also goes to Mehmet Emin Toprak as he gave us a good performance as Yusuf, a contradiction profile compared to mahmut, he is friendly and shy at the same time, and has a good sense of humor.

Many people said that this film is not for everyone, i am agree and disagree with them. Agree, because the film’s pacing, the pace is really slow and not every people could cope with that, but for me the pacing is couldn’t be any better, it’s just perfectly matched with the very fashionable style of directing of nuri bilge ceylan and darkly beautiful cinematography and wonderful camerawork. And disagree, because this film has a universal theme, an issue that happened to every human being, about relationship with another human being, how you adapt your character to another character or to another society and the consequences.(Mubi)