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Painful Meditation on Life, Death, and the Elements
Produced in association with state broadcaster TRT, KOZA (COCOON) is director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's first film, where he sets forth his major preoccupation with humanity's relationship to the elements.
The action, such as it is, focuses on an elderly woman and man (Fatma Ceylan, Mehmet Emin Ceylan), living in an isolated dwelling at the edge of a forest. They never exchange one word with one another, but prefer instead to live a life of total silence trying to communicate with the elements. The old man warms his hands by a fire, or stands next to a tree; the old woman sits on an improvised hammock dozing or listening to the sound of bird-song or the trees rustling.
Despite their best efforts, they find themselves locked in a cocoon of their own making. This sense of imprisonment is emphasized by repeated shots of both of them staring outside through open windows, as if close to yet unable to commune with nature. The strain proves too much for them: Ceylan includes repeated close-ups of the old man staring to the right or left of the camera, while in one climactic scene a tear drips forth from the old woman's eye as she tries to sleep.
Around them life continues regardless. A little boy (Turgut Toprak) looks up at the trees and indulges in occasional acts of mischief (such as upsetting one of the old man's beehives). A little duckling tries to swim for the first time. A cat feeds happily from a bowl, but dies later on. These shots emphasize the continuity of the universe; life is inevitably followed by death and rebirth. The elements always exist - water, fire, air - and it is up to us to enjoy them.
However it is part of the human tragedy that we focus on worldly things rather than the fundamentals of life. Ceylan emphasizes this through the use of old photographs, depicting the past frozen in time - an unrecoverable period that stimulates yearning within the old man and the old woman alike. Perhaps if they just accepted the reality of the life-cycle, and enjoyed the landscape for what it is, then perhaps they could have escaped from the cocoon.
Brilliantly photographed with a soulful score of tunes from J. S. Bach (among others), KOZA is an ideal introduction to the oeuvre of a great director.
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