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Bir zamanlar Anadolu'da
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Reviews & Ratings for
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia More at IMDbPro »Bir zamanlar Anadolu'da (original title)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Transience. Impermanence. Life. Death.

8/10
Author: gregwetherall from United Kingdom
25 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No doubt about it, this is a film that takes its time, unravelling slowly.

It is layered. Complex. Subtle.

There are many conversations exchanged that, on the surface, appear inconsequential. Early on, there is a protracted discussion in the police vehicle about types of yoghurt. The lengthy dispute does nothing to further the plot. It doesn't matter. What it does manage is to make the viewer feel like the characters are human and tangible. These opinions reflect real people and they engage with sincerity, just as people do in every day situations.

There are strong performances all round from the cast, who manage to reflect the complex make-up of the protagonists. The writers, Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Ceylan and Ercan Kesal, have succeeded in creating three dimensional characters who feel real, and come to the screen with a history. Thankfully, the cast's depictions are measured, understated yet emotionally effective. The photography, by Gökhan Tiryaki, is perfectly balanced too, capturing the natural beauty of the landscape without shying away from the gritty reality of the poverty burdened by many in the local community.

This is not a film for everyone. If a blockbuster represents your average 3 minute pop song, then this plays like a mellow symphony. The story moves along with a whisper, rather than a scream. It is a film that has been lovingly crafted with an assured confidence; Ceylan understands the necessity to 'show, not tell'.

To read the full review and more, go to: toomuchnoiseblog.wordpress.com

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

long yes quiet yes simple yes brilliant acting n cinematography

8/10
Author: robt1137 from United Kingdom
15 July 2012

this is an intellectual film beautifully shot quietly it talks about life regret guilt. Delves into human frailties and conscience. There are actually many levels to this film and the search for a murder victim is by the by in my opinion. I've thought about it a lot since and it captures an incredible atmosphere of night dusk dawn and a barren dark land. Its a very sad film and very little to make yu smile, yu end up feeling regret and sad for all the characters in one way or another..the relationship between doctor and prosecutor (whos wife has died) is touching. In the end yu need to be in the right mood for this.. Don't watch it with your shallow friend or partner... Stick to something less challenging and save for yourself... If yu wanna give it 1/10 stick with xmen and spongebob square pants or reverse is true if yu like Hollywood bilge steer clear of this it ain't for yu.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Memorable Film Experience

9/10
Author: georgep53 from Boston, MA
20 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wasn't sure what to expect from this film. The 150 minute length is highly unusual these days and the subject matter seemed a little abstruse. After seeing "Once Upon a Time In Anatolia" I can highly recommend it. This is a near-great to great film that transitions from a satirically absurdist criminal investigation to a soul searching struggle between reason and romanticism. Much of the film is reminiscent of a Samuel Beckett dark comedy and takes place during the night as argumentative, quarreling Turkish policemen transport around a sullen murder suspect in an effort to try and locate the remains of his victim. Adding to the frustration are the landscapes which all look hauntingly similar. The principal characters in the task force are Commissar Naci (Yalmiz Erdogan) the emotional, short-tempered police officer in charge; the Prosecutor (Taner Birsel) who tries to keep the investigation from sputtering out of control and Doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner) who besides being the medical examiner also becomes a repository for the group's personal issues and anxieties. The film based on an actual event benefits from the brilliant direction of Nuri Bilge Ceylan and the outstanding cinematography of Gokhan Tiryaki. A remarkable piece of filmmaking that you'll think about for a long time.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A textbook definition of the word "engrossing"

9/10
Author: jdennist from United States
7 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watching ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, as the film neared its end, I kept on saying "All right, it'll cut to black right about now." Time after time, I was proved wrong. The film goes on and on (over 2.5 hours), yet unlike, say, THE RETURN OF THE KING, once the film did end, I realized that the film from start to finish moved along exactly as it should, and that returning to it, knowing how it would finish, I would have no complaints about its structure.

Certainly I have no complaints about the acting (marvelous all around, but Taner Birsel as the prosecutor and Muhammet Uzuner as the doctor take top honors), the directing (patient, clear, sympathetic), the writing (injected with a welcome sense of dark humor), the cinematography (glorious long shots, long takes, use of light and texture), or the editing (the montage wherein the mayor's daughter serves tea to the men is subtle genius).

While the deliberate pace can be a touch trying for some, if you open yourself up to it, OUATIA will no doubt pull you in and keep you hooked; it's one of the best films of 2011, and one which deserves as wide an audience as, say, THE ARTIST has received.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Either scenario or acting or images are excellent

9/10
Author: umutmorkoc from United States
14 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nuri Bilge Ceylan is one of the most popular Turkish director and we can say "Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da" is his mastership periods work. Ceylan, because of his photographer background, usually prefers visual expression to verbal one but in "Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da" we can see the successful examples of both expression methods. Ceylan's use of the images success clearly stand out in "Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da". In "Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da" Ceylan tells a story of resemblance that occurs as a result of town life. All of the acting are excellent but I want to emphasize Fırat Tanış's(suspect of murder) performance, his performance is so reel and impressive. Either scenario or acting or images are excellent.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

My second Ceylan's film after Three Monkeys

8/10
Author: junkielee from Cairo, Egypt
29 May 2014

After his latest feature WINTER SLEEP (2014) won Palme d'Or this year, there is no better timing to assess Nuri Bilge Ceylan's previous works, personally I was daunted by my first experience with his film, THREE MONKEYS (2008, 6/10), so until now I dare to stride a second step, here comes his 2011 crime-drama.

The opening scene is a staunch fixed shot with its focus shifting from blur to clarity (which is a regular ploy for Ceylan), we see three men is inside a house and chatting casually, after hearing a dog barking outside, one opens the door and feeds the dog, later we will know, he is the dead victim Yasar and the other two are suspects. Then sliding the opening credits, but this is not a conventional whodunit and don't expect Ceylan to expound on the nuts and bolts of the case, instantly the film embarks on its one-night and one-day account of how a convoy led by Prosecutor Nusret (Birsel) and Commissar Naci (Erdogan) locate the corpse with the confession of one of the said suspects Kenan (Tanis), and the subsequent autopsy conducts by Doctor Cemal (Uzuner).

The story is thick with ideas pertinent to the milieu of ethnic rural Turkey, the Anatolian part at least, as well as philosophical guidelines under a sweeping overtone about morality, innocence and compassion (for example, the falsehood in autopsy near the end, a drop of blood stain is a brilliant finishing touch to underlie the ambiguity, plus many symbolist additions are spread all over the film). As the search rambles on and sifted through their informal tête-à-têtes or implications suggested from random chitchats among other sidekicks in the team, audience will grasp the abiding burdens overpowering all 3 main characters, the prosecutor (his wife's mysterious self-prophetic death), the commissar (the beaten career fatigue with a sick boy in the family to tend) and the doctor (a failed marriage scars his life). But it is not all solemn and depressing, occasionally, dark humour crops up at the most inappropriate crunch, say, the Clark Gable remark.

These characters are deeply felt by actors, who constitute a magnificent ensemble including many lesser players, the two-handers between Uzuner and Birsel (there are some fungal infection on his cheeks, quite intrusive) are certainly among the best of the year when several bouts of their calmly contradictory theories about the aforementioned destined death beguilingly play out with etiquette and composure.

As a matter of course, in Ceylan's world, his outstanding visual scope is astonishing and even breathtaking in some unyielding long takes of Anatolia's topographic magnificence. Also, leaving blank is a philosophy roots deeply in Ceylan's cinema world, he offers viewers time to contemplate what they are watching and hearing, therefore, the total running time is stretched out, but in a very good way, if we have time, why don't we sit down and enjoy a decent meal with intervals for rumination instead of gulping down fast food with scare nutrients and barren aftertaste? Which is a more reasonable and salubrious way for avid cinema-goers.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

requires patience but definitely worth the effort

7/10
Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
17 April 2013

Nuir Bilge Ceylon's "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" is the complete antithesis to the conventional American crime drama, which routinely features detectives with matinée-idol looks, an assortment of plot twists and red herrings, and a series of breath-bating car chases to keep the masses from bolting for the exits.

"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" has none of these. In fact, it features a cast of balding, sagging, middle-aged men - a police chief, a prosecutor, a doctor and two murder suspects - who have gone on a night- long search, through the dour planes of Turkey, in search of a buried body. As the night drags on, the men engage in a series of long, angst- ridden conversations that reveal how their constant exposure to and intimate involvement with the sordid and depraved aspects of the human condition have made them pessimistic and cynical about life. Yet, in the end, at least one of the characters finds a way, through a bit of professional compromise, to bring a little less darkness into the world.

Meanwhile, at every step in the drama, the movie drains the process of crime detection of all its "glamour."

It's a long - 157-minutes long, in fact - methodical, and frequently ponderous journey into the heart of darkness, but fine performances and a complete lack of conventionality make it a trip worth taking.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Melancholy over melodrama

8/10
Author: paul2001sw-1 (paul2001sw@yahoo.co.uk) from Saffron Walden, UK
26 March 2013

Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a crafty film-maker. All his films are slow, and in 'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia', he spends almost three hours following about 12 real hours. Given that nothing much happens, it's like 'Twenty Four' on Mogadon: for the first half of the movie, everything is dark and although the premise is that the protagonists are going to discover a body, the body in question has a strangely Godot-like quality. Eventually, it gets light and events finally move on; but this is not a plot-driven movie. Instead, slowing down to what feels like real time, it draws us into the rhythms of its characters, on a long lonely night that strips them all of some of the everyday illusions that life normally provides us as a comfort. For all its length, and its absence of plot, it's not boring, once you get into the mood. While this is an achievement in itself, it's slightly less clear what the movie is actually for: the final take home message is that there isn't one. If all films were like this, we'd all seek alternative entertainment; but there's a deep, hidden thoughtfulness here, a deliberate rejection of melodrama in favour of subdued melancholy, that has its own charms.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Excellent!...

8/10
Author: Andy Steel
16 February 2013

I first have to say that the film is beautifully shot with some really great imagery showing the bleakness of the landscape and allusions to many of the characters. Even the scenes at night had such great atmosphere; something that doesn't always come across in film. The only downside was that I had to keep switching to the bottom of the screen to read the subtitles! I found the plot quite unconventional; rather than featuring the procedural investigation; the focus is on the doctor and the prosecutor who stand aside and talk as the search proceeds. This ends up giving an unexpected insight into these two men (I don't want to say any more – spoilers). Even though I found it very long, I also found it quite engrossing and I'm sure if I watched it again at some point I'd find even more to like about it. It does have an extremely slow pace about it, but that's one of the things I liked; it gives the audience more time to absorb the story and decide for themselves just what it's about. I enjoyed it very much.

SteelMonster's verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.0/10

You can find an expanded version of this review on my blog: Thoughts of a SteelMonster.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Great

9/10
Author: Cosmoeticadotcom (cosmoetica@gmail.com) from United States
1 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is a great film, and I want to end this review of it by returning to the idea that this is Ceylan's greatest film, and explaining why. Aside from the fact that, technically, its screenplay is the deepest and broadest, in terms of including great dialogue, and narrative ellipses, as well, the film has the most roiling narrative, and the best example of this is the fact that Ceylan employs, better than all but a few films, the Hitchcockian idea of the MacGuffin- or the seeming narrative element that propels the art (and its protagonist(s)) whereas, in reality, the real element that is central to the art is something else. Some critics have noticed this element in the film but have targeted the wrong MacGuffin, claiming that the murder itself is the MacGuffin, but it's clearly not, as the body is found 90 minutes into the film- over an hour from its end, therefore there has to be another element that acts as the de facto carrot for the narrative impulse. It is, like the claims that the film is a police procedural, simply false. The murder merely provides the milieu of the film for it becomes clear, within the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film that the characters are not really driven by the murder, and most, in fact, seem bored or disgusted or tired of it. They each have their own reasons for being there- mostly duty or remuneration. The real MacGuffin comes into the film in the form of the aforementioned gorgeous woman tale that rapts the prosecutor and doctor. It enters the film at the time that, in more plot driven works, a 'big revelation' would be due. As would be expected in a lesser work, we get hints that the murder of the dead man is something more than portrayed, for we get a comment from the prosecutor about how women get their revenge on men, we get an even earlier comment on the negative nature of the dead man, implying that his murder was somehow justified (and may explain the doctor's later cover up of the actual cause of death re: the dead man's being buried alive), and we get to suspect that the dead man may have been abusive to the wife, which may have culminated in her presumed affair with Kenan- if he is to be believed that he is the father of the widow's child. But, unlike a Hollywood film, none of this is spelt out linearly, but implied, requiring Negatively Capable abilities to thread it together. But, the main point is that, sans the gorgeous woman trope, the viewer would not have the insights into those characters re: their own failures in sexual relationships, and their abilities and weaknesses in doing their own jobs. The film raises ambiguity to an artistic level because it's not ambiguity for its own sake, but as a tool to craft character, to move plot, and to deliver a philosophic message that goes beyond platitudes of depth and mystery and the like. In short, Ceylan learned from his Three Monkeys error of relying on a formula to get to the nub of a matter, and instead dive full bore into existence itself, to pull character out, and in turn craft narrative from. It is in this taffy twist of the artist that his art rose to new heights, and Once Upon A Time in Anatolia is a candy to stain the tongue. Here's hoping that future twists augur even greater rise.

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