What do you do when you go on a long travel without knowing the destination with some not so close colleagues where the resources like current and connectivity is very low? Adding to this, what if it is a tense professional situation? This is what happens in a 157 minute movie. The movie’s name is Once upon a time in Anatolia (Turkey)
I had never heard of the director’s name. I am not a big fan of Turkish movies either. But stumbled upon this from a friend’s blog reference and immediately intrigued by the trailer. The movie starts with three sets of headlights travelling in a night at a remote area in the outskirts of Turkey. The vehicle contains a police inspector, his driver, a doctor, a public attorney and a killer. The killer who had killed his friend and confessed his crime with the inspector. The trouble is to finish the case they need the corpse and the killer forgot where he buried his friend as he had consumed alcohol while committing the crime.
They travel from one place to another in a windy night, clouds threatening a downpour at any minute. The frustration of each person to end the work and going home reflects in different manner. And then the next day the find the corpse and take it to the mortuary to finish the autopsy. The movie ends there.
What is so intriguing in the film where police search for a corpse and do the procedures? you may wonder. But the director made sure that each character and prop in the screen grow in you and you start to feel familiar and travel with those people in the cramped car. This movie is a masterpiece example of dominance of the director in each frame. There are two female characters. They may have totally five scenes together. But the movie is about family. You always feel there is some kind of feminine aspect in the movie. There is no suspense. You know where they are heading from the first frame of the movie. An act has been done and no one can do nothing about it. The movie is about this, committing an act and the helplessness of nothing can be done to correct it.
When the suspect has walked a long distance with the inspector to identify the place where he buried the corpse, the prosecutor and the doctor strike up a conversation. It is about a girl who predicted her death. The girl apparently didnt live one more second than she had predicted. The doctor being rationalist and city bred questions the situation. This conversation extends throughout the movie with breaks now and then. This is one of the most important aspect of story telling cleverly handled by the director.
Be it the prosecutor who narrates the incident to the doctor, Or the killer himself who feels bad for what he had done in few minutes of fury, Or the doctor who had left his family and city life for the reason best known to him, or the inspector whose son has developed some sickness and cannot do without his medicines every single day, everybody has resigned to fate. There is no optimism in the faces of any person in the movie. The lighting is bleak. And that is why the movie is so real. Somethings which had been done, we can regret it all our life, but nothing can be done to correct it. We must live with the consequences.
This is not a movie for people who want a start, plot distribution, character establishment, what happens, why happens, how it ends movie watchers. If your colleague tells you a story about a funny incident that happened in high school, you will be given a brief introduction of characters, then the incident happens and the narration stops there. That is the style of the film. But the director manages the film and characters grow in you with minimal dialogues.
The camera work should be applauded. The first part of the movie totally takes part in the night. There is no light source except for some powerful headlights of a patrol vehicle. At times we wonder whether we are seeing a motion picture or a well arranged montage of canvas paintings. Something like Barry Lindon by Stanley Kubrick. At some point of time gradually the people in the movie get clear about where they are heading and it dawns literally. The extreme wide angle shots and the tight closeups to the faces of the main characters adds a lot of depth to so many scenes in the movie. See this if you want to know how beautiful the movie is
The audio engineering and mixing in the movie deserves a special mention. Be it the windy night or the last scene in the autopsy room where we don’t see the autopsy but thanks to the sound engineer we can clearly hear each and every procedure he perform and squirm in our seat.
If you are a fan of letting a movie or book consuming you, then this movie would interest you. This movie is for serious movie buffs. Don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you.