7.9/10
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119 user 189 critic

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)

Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | 23 September 2011 (Turkey)
Trailer
1:36 | Trailer
A group of men set out in search of a dead body in the Anatolian steppes.

Director:

Nuri Bilge Ceylan
21 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Turkey's official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 84th Academy Awards 2012. See more »

Goofs

While Arab and the doctor chat during the investigation, doctor sits in the front seat of the car (with the car door open, facing the field). The next scene, we see the doctor from the back, facing the field while standing. After that, while Arab is eating apple, we see doctor sitting in the front seat again. As they keep talking, it cuts to wide angle shot where we see the doctor standing again. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in ARIF V 216 (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Police Procedural that highlights the complexities associated with the human psyche
10 February 2013 | by murtaza_mmaSee all my reviews

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is an award winning motion picture directed by Turkish movie maker Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is essentially a Police Procedural that also serves to highlight the complexities associated with the Human Psyche. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia serves to be a case study on how humans behave, especially when made to step out of the comfort zone. The world of cinema today finds itself at the crossroads. In a bid to satiate the ever growing demands of the money mongering business moguls the creative aspects of cinema are often forced to take a back seat. The commercialization is not new to cinema, and is something that cannot be done away with. After all, everyone has the right to eke out a living. However, what is worrying is that the business sharks that rule the movie arena merely treat cinema as a money making instrument. This naked opportunism is not only undermining the efforts of the great visionaries of cinema who had nurtured cinema with their blood and sweat, but is also posing a great treat to its evolution as an Art form. Over the years, cinema has been undergoing a continuous transformation from being a mere medium of indulgence to being a profound means of self-realization to being a tool to generate the moolah, but in the process it has seemed to lost its golden glory.

With the Japanese, Swedish, Italian, and Russian Cinema having lost their true vigor, and the Anglo-American Cinema already on the verge of no return, the onus truly lies with the Iranian, Korean, Argentine, and Turkish Cinema to be the beacon of cinema's hope of survival as an Art form. As far as the contemporary Turkish Cinema is concerned, it's synonymous with the name of one Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Ceylan, undoubtedly, is one of the greatest movie makers of our time, and his singularly evocative style not only makes his work poignant and thought-provoking, but, I dare say, also puts him in the same league as Kurosawa and Tarkovsky.

Ceylan delivered a punch with his stunning family tragedy 'Three Monkeys' in 2008. He incredibly manages an encore with his latest flick, the brutal yet brilliant, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is Ceylan's finest achievement till date, and has already earned him some fine accolades including the coveted Grand Prix at Cannes. The two 'Once Upon a Time' movies by Sergio Leone were indeed masterpieces and this is no less, at least one in the making that is expected to withstand the test of the time. Just like with Leone, Ceylan's camera does all the talking with the dialogue itself taking the back seat. Even in its subsidiary role, the dialogue never loses its weight and packs the punch whenever the need arises. The laconicism in dialogue is well substituted by the cinematographic detail, which forms the backbone of Ceylan's work. The panoramic shots of the Anatolian Steppes are highly reminiscent of Leone's widescreen cinematography in the 'Dollars Trilogy'. The latent wilderness of the Anatolian Steppes is greatly analogous to the secrets that lay hidden in the hearts of the deeply convoluted characters. The movie also offers a great insight into the complex procedure adopted by the police to solve murder cases, and the role of autopsy in estimating the actual cause of death.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia acquaints the viewer with the dark side of human psyche. The stark beauty symbolizes the pain—that the characters have experienced right through their lives—which has robbed their inner peace and beauty, and has made them ugly and brutal. The murder mystery that lies at the very core of the plot is just one small part of a highly complex puzzle that has much more to it than meets the eye. The plot allows each character's caricature to have multiple layers, a facet that adds great depth to the movie, and makes second viewing absolutely essential. The Driver, the Police Commissioner, the Prosecutor, the Accused, and the Doctor, who at first come across as run-of-the-mill characters of the quotidian, are in actuality bearers of deeply eccentric personas, victimized by the vicissitudes of fate, stuck in the middle of nowhere, waiting desperately for their eventual doom.

One very unique feature of the movie is the striking yet consistent difference that exists between what the characters try to project, and what actually is going inside their diabolical minds, something that only the viewer is made aware of, but not always. The night scenes in the first half of the movie are absolutely astonishing to watch. The cavalcade of cars moving ahead in the pitch black darkness, made visible by the projection of their head lights, is symbolic of hope amidst abject distress when everything is lost and there's is no place to run or hide.

The scene that's my absolute favorite, and that each and every time leaves me completely speechless and awestruck, is the one in which the Mayor's seraphic daughter serves tea to the guests with her pristine, entrancing beauty stimulating a sense of delirium not only in minds of the guests, but also in minds of the viewers. Her piety and pulchritude is incorruptible to such an extent that it has the power to purge the evil that resides in others. The divine glow of her angelic face under the lamp light is worth the luminosity of a million stars in the Universe.

Overall, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a fine specimen of movie-making that elevates contemporary cinema to new heights, both as an Art form as well as a medium of entertainment. The movie's multilayered plot and complex characters make second and probably a third viewing absolutely essential for a deeper and clearer understanding. 9/10


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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Language:

Turkish

Release Date:

23 September 2011 (Turkey) See more »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia See more »

Filming Locations:

Turkey See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,952, 8 January 2012

Gross USA:

$152,408

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,099,472
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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