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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)
"Bir zamanlar Anadolu'da" (original title)

7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 19,854 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 87 user | 168 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

A group of men set out in search of a dead body in the Anatolian steppes.

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Title: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)

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This is a movie within movie, which is almost recursive, i.e., the movie inside looks like director Ceylan's previous movie, Kasaba. It is about the movie director, Muzaffer, going back to ... See full summary »

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Stars: Emin Ceylan, Muzaffer Özdemir, Fatma Ceylan
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Doctor Cemal
...
Commissar Naci
Taner Birsel ...
Prosecutor Nusret
Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan ...
Driver Arab Ali
...
Ercan Kesal ...
Mukhtar
Erol Erarslan ...
Murder Victim Yasar
Ugur Aslanoglu ...
Courthouse Driver Tevfik
Murat Kiliç ...
Police Officer Izzet
Safak Karali ...
Courthouse Clerk Abidin
Emre Sen ...
Sergeant Onder
Burhan Yildiz ...
Suspect Ramazan
Nihan Okutucu ...
Yasar's wife Gülnaz
Cansu Demirci ...
Mukhtar's Daughter Cemile
Kubilay Tunçer ...
Autopsy Technician Sakir
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Storyline

In the rural area around the Anatolian town of Keskin, the local prosecutor, police commissar, and doctor lead a search for a victim of a murder to whom a suspect named Kenan and his mentally challenged brother confessed. However, the search is proving more difficult than expected as Kenan is fuzzy as to the body's exact location. As the group continues looking, its members can't help but chat among themselves about both trivia and their deepest concerns in an investigation that is proving more trying than any of them expected. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | dead body | steppe | doctor | murder | See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Language:

Release Date:

23 September 2011 (Turkey)  »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$10,652 (USA) (6 January 2012)

Gross:

$138,730 (USA) (1 June 2012)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ercan Kesal, playing the Mukhtar in the movie, is a medical doctor in his real life. His real life experience as a doctor in the Anatolian town where the movie was also shot had inspired the director and the scriptwriter, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, to make the movie. See more »

Goofs

Once the deceased body is discovered you can see the "corpse's" thumb briefly twitch. See more »

Connections

Referenced in At the Movies: Cannes Film Festival 2011 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Alli Turnam (Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da)
By Neset Ertas
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
20 November 2011 | by (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

I had not followed the schedule of film festival, but when mention of screening of Turkish movie came in newspaper, I got interested. After knowing that it is directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three Monkeys fame) I surely got excited and checked whether it was to be re-screened? It was. Thus I went to see it.

The Director Ceylan had impressed me thoroughly with his earlier movie Three Monkeys, by its unique narrative structure, still camera, minimal dialogues and picture perfect images. I was not able to sit through his earlier film Climates (but I wish to see it again now!).

The film is about a team of 10 state officials - mainly Doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner), Commissioner Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan), Prosecutor Nusret (Taner Birsel) and their entourage of driver, police, lieutenant, diggers plus 2 criminals suspects (Firat Tanis and other) – who set out in the evening to search of a burial place of dead body of a person killed by the suspects, in rural landscape of Anatolia. The team travel unsuccessfully from one location to another, taking rest in the night at a remote village – where they are served dinner by the Mukhtar (village head). Morning they re-start their search and finally find the dead body, and take it to the town – where a post-mortem of the dead body is done.

There are a few sub-plots that unfold in layers – of Prosecutor's story about (probably) his wife's suicide; Commissioner's story about his sick son & his experience about crime where he says – In 20 years invariably he has come across a woman's role as a root cause in all crimes he has investigated (anti-feminist!?; the suspect story about his son; the Doctor's story about his divorce; Mukhtar's story about his village problems and about his daughter (Cansu Demirci); the dead person's wife's and son story.

The movie was mentioned many times over that it is tediously (painfully) slow – which I did not find because the movie allows audience to get involved with the characters. The narrative is not straight. It requires audience's attention and involvement.

A few things about the movie – it is a murder mystery, where the hint of mystery is unfolded in the last 5 minutes. I would not reveal it, but as a hint - from the beginning closely watch the Doctor's character who unravels the mystery during post-mortem. Brilliant! A few scenes that require mention – car headlights in long shot beaming amongst the Anatolia hillock, the journey of a freshly fallen apple (from the tree) down the hills to the stream, the magical scene of Mukhtar's daughter serving tea, (WOW!) and the last post-mortem scene. There are also various streams of dialogues that are very intriguing to render the characters.

Ceylan has come to age with this cinema. He has his own style of cinematic narrative, that many on commercial diet may not digest; but he has this thorough knowledge of cinema as a medium. Read Ceylan to understand how he has evolved as a director: "The placement of how high a camera should be depends on the straight lines one sees on the screen." Thespianique! Ceylan started with a team of 1 person in his first film (himself) to progress a team of 14 technicians in this film. No need to say more. Acting of all cast is brilliant! It is Ceylan show all the way! Watch it.

(8 out of 10)


76 of 92 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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