Sunday, October 17, 2021

Winter Sleep, a Turkish masterpiece

 Long movies require patience and concentration.  But there is a lot of meat in some long movies.  A Turkish film "Winter Sleeps" (2014) is the longest film (3 hours and 16 minutes) to ever win the Cannes Festival Palm d'Or.  There is a lot to ponder, but on the other hand you might feel some resonance in your own life.

Aydin is a retired actor who has taken over the family hotel located in a mountainous region of Turkey.  He feels he is a realist, but is very cynical in talks with his divorced sister and much younger wife.  His wife Nihal feels stifled and tries to establish some independence while he talks down to her.  She explodes and makes demands that he mostly belittles and claims he doesn't care what she decides to do.  In the end the husband and wife realize they cannot control the other and seem to bend and make the best of an unhappy situation.  Others might interpret this film differently, but most would agree there is an unhealthy tension between husband and wife demanding some sort of resolution.

The movie was loosely based on two short stories of Anton Chekhov.  There turned out to be over 200 hours of film that was cut down to four hours and 30 minutes with a lot of tough decisions to get down to final size 3 hours and 16 minutes. 

Nuri Bilge Ceylan was born in Istanbul.  While studying Electrical Engineering he started studying films.  After traveling and military service he started making films.  A short film became the first Turkish short film chosen for competition and won competition at Cannes  In his early films he was involved with cinematography, editing, sound design as well as writing and directing.  His films deal with alienation, existentialism in everyday life.  He found inspiration from Anton Chekhov's stories.  Some of his films include "Three Monkeys" (2008), "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" (2011) and "The Wild Pear Tree" (2018).

 "Winter Sleep" is considered Ceylan's masterpiece which he wrote, directed and edited.  His wife Ebru also worked on the script as she had in other of his films.

Haluk Bilginer plays Aydin as a cynical motel owner.  He loves discussion.  Haluk is remembered by many for his 107 episodes of the British tv. series "Eastenders".  Other films include "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" (2012), "Rosewater" (2014), "The Ottoman Lieutenant" (2017).  Nuri Bilge Ceylan insisted on his role despite three rejections and worked the film schedule around Haluk's theatre schedule at the time.  In his

Melisa Sozen played Nihal, the young wife striving to be independent.  An Award winner.  Has done French films

Demet Akbag played the cynical sister. Necla.  She had been in Turkish films since 1986 winning national awards.  She got to deliver an interesting quote:  "Philanthropy isn't tossing a bone to a hungry dog.  It's sharing when you are just as hungry."

My first Turkish film was "Bliss" (2007) and encouraged me to watch more:

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