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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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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A film about things that are hidden.

Author: Samsonista from London, England
5 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The pace of the film is consciously slow. As we follow murder suspect Kenan, Commisar Naci, Chief Prosecutor Nusret and local doctor Cemal through the night while they attempt to uncover and process the body of a murder victim, we are encouraged to suffer their impatience, fatigue and introspection. The soft, nuanced rhythm of the direction together with the beautiful cinematography invest glances, pauses and silences with an often overwhelming significance.

This is a film about an uncovering of the things that terrify us; guilt, mortality, loss and shame. It offers us no easy answers to the questions that stalk us in the middle of the night. In the case of the chief prosecutor the answer he eventually receives is unflinchingly brutal. The doctor's final decision - whether to uncover a shocking truth or not - is answered in the slowest, most considered of ways, finishing with the film's haunting finale; a black screen and the gruesome sound of the final 'uncovering.'

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

a world in slow motion

Author: dromasca from Herzlya, Israel
21 September 2012

This is my first encounter with work from Turkish director Nuri Bige Ceylan, and one of my first with the Turkish cinema, most of my previous experiences were with films made by Turkish directors living in Europe (Germany especially) and dealing with the lives of the communities of exiles and their relations to the society around and the one back home. 'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia' has a 100% focus on the life of a remote community in the hills of Anatolia, far not only from Europe but also from the lives of the majority of the Turks in big cities like Istanbul or Ankara. The subject however does touch the relation with Europe and with the modern society as it describes a police and judicial procedure of reconstructing a crime committed in a setting that does not seem to have changed too much for many decades or even centuries, with the evolving tools of the modern state.

Interestingly this beautiful film brought up to me similarities with the Romanian cinema, another 'peripheral' movement in the landscape of European cinema which saw a breakthrough and underwent the experience being 'discovered' in the last decade by art film festivals. The subject and even the style reminds the - maybe - best film in the history of Romanian cinema - 'Reconstituirea' by Lucian Pintilie, also a story of a process of justice slowly developing in a natural landscape, with the focus more on the souls of the heroes than on the action itself. The attention paid by the director on his characters, the deepness of the psychological analysis, and the excellent support of the actors look very much like some of the best products of the 'new wave'. In the case of 'Once Upon the Time in Anatolia' the three principal characters (the police chief, the public investigator, the doctor) enjoy all splendid performances from the three actors - Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel. As the story develops we learn more and more about the characters, their personal stories and their fears, their hidden secrets.

The story development is slow, and whoever has expectations for detective action should pick a different movie. This film is about men living in a remote place, their lives and emotions, their relation with nature and with the society around them which is not immune to change, but changes come at its own pace. The rhythm of the film borrows something from that pace, viewers need to be warned and ready to pay the price of some patience, but those who will do it will be highly rewarded.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

This is not a whodunnit

Author: imogenwooder from United Kingdom
27 April 2012

It is a calm film. It reminds me of the French inter-war films about professional people, such as teachers or doctors. It accompanies a team of policemen, a prosecutor and a doctor who at dead of night are searching for a body with two men who have confessed to murder. The search continues all night, the work carries on into the next morning. I felt as if I had joined the team, was experiencing the boredom, the welcome break, the teamwork,the friendships and the inter-relationships that made up the general working conditions. We are not looking for clues and the mystery is why the two men killed the victim. It is beautifully shot, displaying the wild, open land of Anatolia on a stormy autumnal night.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

N. B. Ceylan's Anatolia: A Land of Darkness and Agony

Author: Ali KINCAL from Turkey
27 September 2012

Undoubtedly he's not the first native intellectual to depict Anatolia like that. In some respect, he's merely going on with traditional leftist point of view in Turkey, that presents the countryside as just backward, ignorant, unhappy, suffering, unaware of anything and sometimes cruel... You can find no shred of happiness in the movie. Nor can you see anything else close to happiness or something "positively Turkish" except a few jokes mixed with bitterness. Surely he's not obliged to advertise countryside of Anatolia. But this kind of gloomy perspective makes one think that N.B. Ceylan's irritatingly pushing joy out of life and his way of looking at life may be incomplete.

And time slows down as in almost any other N.B. Ceylan's movies. For instance, we watch a character breathing and doing nothing, for a relatively long time. Or we wait actors to pass the corridor, etc...

But there's still that magic that nails you into your chair. And you absolutely feel that you're watching a movie shot by a 1st class professional. The shots are marvellous and make one to want to go for a road trip there. Despite all my negativity on the movie, I strongly recommend it.

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful but way too long

Author: estebangonzalez10 from Ecuador
17 July 2012

¨You can say, once upon a time in Anatolia when I was working out in the sticks I remember this one night which began like this.¨

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a beautiful film with some breathtaking cinematography, a great use of long shots, and a combination of dark sceneries lighted by vehicles or candles. The story is also interesting and intriguing at times with some memorable characters, but the film also dragged and moved real slowly which made it a difficult watch. Despite the beautiful scenes my eyes were dozing off during this two and a half hour long movie. This isn't a film for everyone because it is long and slow, but also very artistic. There are a lot of symbolisms introduced in the movie as well, and the fact that the movie is so slow is kind of purposely done so in such a way that the viewer gets to feel and experience how the night is taking its toll on the characters who are suffering from a hard day's work and fatigue. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is directed by Turkish director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (who also made Distinct and Climates), who co-wrote the film with Ebru Ceylan and Ercan Kesal. Their film received a lot of love from the critics and it also won the Jury Grand Prize in the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. I had no clue about this movie until I heard several critics include it as their favorite film of 2012 in their midyear lists. I can see why it received so much love, because it was really beautiful and artistic, but I also can see why many people will hate this film because it's just way too long and moves so slow. It becomes tedious to watch this film and you begin to feel as tired as the characters are.

The film is basically a police procedural as we join a caravan of three cars driving through the rural area of Anatolia on their way to recover a dead body somewhere in the valley. Two brothers, Kenan (Firat Tanis) and Ramazan (Burhan Yildiz) have confessed to the crime and are trying to point out to the police where they have buried the body. Prosecutor Nusret (Taner Bisel), the Police Commissioner Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan), and Doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner) are leading the search along with a couple of officers, guards, and the driver Arab Ali (Ahmet Taylan). What seemed a simple search is turning out to be a long and tedious one as Kenan can't recall the exact location of the place where he has buried the body. He claims to have been drunk the night he killed the victim and buried him. As the hours go by and the officials become impatient the night begins to take its toll on everyone. During the search we get to know each one of the characters through a series of dialogues between each other. Some of these dialogues and stories they tell are actually more interesting than the things that are going on. The film depicts the police procedural with a lot of details and in a realistic fashion.

Despite almost falling asleep with this long movie, I have to admit I was intrigued with what was going on and loved how the film was shot with such beautiful sceneries. It was hard to grade this film because it is truly memorable and original, but at the same time it feels so tedious that you just want to give up on it. The ending is also very unsatisfying as I was expecting something more climatic or revealing considering how long we had to wait for it. On the other hand the film does leave a lot of interpretations available and will have you thinking about some of the things that happened. The film revolves around men mostly, and there are very few scenes with women in it, but they do play an important role every time they show up on screen. There are a lot of hidden symbolisms behind several scenes and that is what allows the viewer to have different interpretations of what might have happened. Muhammet Uzuner as the Doctor gives the best performance in the film and the rest of the cast was also pretty strong. I didn't have a great time with this film and wouldn't consider it among my favorite movies of the year, but it was interesting and barely got a passing grade for me.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A movie has to be seen...

Author: as ozdemir ( from Turkey
17 May 2013

What Nuri Bilge Ceylan really makes in this movie is questionable but he makes something goes into very deep. He creates questions needs to be answered in different ways.

Anatolia is known with it's pureness and beauty. But is there something different underlying this scene through the relationships..? Maybe we need to have a night tour with the police, prosecutor and a doctor after a murder committed by a close friend of the victim… Through the investigation we witness their history of personality and how they approach the things in a rural area of Anatolia in a dark night.

A movie really has to be seen…

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Am I a way off here? Objections will not offend, but I have to ask?.

Author: gajodaw-731-933063 from United Kingdom
8 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...I think I could give this film a higher rating on second viewing.

I'm a voyeur who lets a film wash over them. I am unfamiliar with film-speak. A Cinematic-Neandrathal if you like.

When I read reviews I understand them but can't produce the same words my self.

...I recall the mention of a woman early on that sparked curiosity. I'd need to see it again to say when.

And when I then sensed the protagonist is the Doctor, and it is his movie.

Did he know the deceased's wife before the murder?

Is she his ex-wife?

Am I talking crap?

Lush photography.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this again. If something about it attracts you. watch it.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Nuri Bilge Ceylan should better study for the detective side of the movie

Author: hakanmilyon from Paris
31 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Generally i really liked the movie and Nuri Bilge Ceylan's directing.

For me the strong side of the Nuri Bilge Ceylan's movies comes from his passionately love of nature.Therefore he uses outside and nature's sounds loudly.Also from his visual aspect to nature scenes, he gives them a value like a painter's painting.

Scenes have many allusions for explaining Nuri Bilge Ceylan's meaning. Also the conversations have many clues about the story but viewer's must know how to read them.Story mainly tell about the people behind the masks.All the main characters have problems with women.

But one conflict about the movie is detective investigation doesn't satisfy csi viewers.İ mean if a commissar and prosecutor find a body with his hands tied in the ground, they should firstly suspect of someone be buried live instead of asking to murderer why he tied his hands.They should also looking for to find evidence(some soil) in victim's mouth or nose.Also just before the autopsy prosecutor should check victim's mouth and nose.

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12 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Slow, slow, slow. But pretty...

Author: halldorion from Finland
17 March 2012

"Few films are about simply waiting and talking, but this is one..." Quoting a Guardian review, the guy nonetheless gives high marks.

But that's it, its about waiting and the boring little life moments that cinema usually spares us. This movie almost extinguished my will to live. It's well made, clear style, beautifully shot etc. etc. but it's HORRIBLY boring.

I'm into slow or macabre stuff if it works (Bergman, Kaurismaki...) but there is a deafening sense of pointlessness to the too long scenes in this thing. All the rave reviews make me suspicious of nefarious motives (pretentious snobbery).

I had high expectations due to misleading trailer. Avoid it! Or at least don't pay to see it!

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19 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Once Upon A Time In Flatland

Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
28 March 2012

My daughter and I both agreed on this one before and after watching it: beforehand we were both interested in the story as advertised and that it won at Cannes, after seeing it we both consigned it to the Art Too Clever For Me dustbin. This is a motion picture not a painting, right?

Cops get thug to show them where murdered man is buried in various wildernesses, with a childish intermittent subplot interrupting at random. Nothing wrong with that, but also rambling, lazily incoherent, overlong, pretentious with an undisciplined end spring to mind. Well acted with great cinematography, however so many Arty longueurs abound, stretching the film out almost as long the Anatolian horizons. Whereas Kurosawa or even Bergman could mean something with apparent pointless plotlessness this utterly fails. It needed a Kurosawa to inject some life, some interest. After 2 hours or so I realised I wasn't the slightest bit interested in any of the characters, their stories or surroundings, but only to make it to the end of its long and winding road to complete it, press delete and log off. A totally well made unmoving 2D experience.

On the other hand, the first 45 minutes were OK with some atmospheric scenes, that is before you guess that this particular football match is going to end up goalless. It slowed down disastrously after the cop stopped asking Huh. I suspect most of the comments here have made by men, as the "beautiful daughter" who appears for about 10 minutes and who does nothing is mentioned a lot - by people desperate for something memorable to relate? So-called realism abounds, however were all the schlurpy sounds at the laidback autopsy really necessary? You'll need to make up your own mind but to my mind this is Artifice, not Art; or like watching paint drying, not admiring a colourful canvas. Oh well, you win some you lose some.

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