One needs patience with surrendering all those preconceived notions mainstream cinema fed to the senses to feel the transcendental quality of certain cinema. Names of Masters like Tarkovsky & Bresson flashes immediately to mind for discovering feelings to image but here I’m sharing an experience of cinema of a modern Turkish filmmaker named Nuri Bilge Ceylan. One need to watch at least one of his film to check what a mature artistic insight & wavelength he’s blessed with! The film won him not only Grand Prize but also France Culture award for Best Cineaste of the year at Cannes. The Best Actor awards to both actors was added bonus.
The English title of the film is ‘Distant’ and it is about encounter between two men: the unemployed young man Yusuf who leaves his hometown to seek a job in the city and his distant relative Mahmut, a mid age photographer. The film without feeding mainstream narration, quietly explores Mahmut’s self alienation. Yusuf on the other hand is a struggler didn’t getting a chance to find a job or a girl. His entry in Mahmut’s home intensifies the existential drama with somber mood. One can see the separation in space and relevance in everything whether approach, relationships, frames, characters, family life and above all emphasizing the space between its two non professional main leads; it’s poetry about the distant existential crisis the city brought to its dwellers. We witness the indifference & distant the city brought to the life where men are struggling between career, defunct family & relations, curbing down his dreams where a routine job ends up to get back to loneliness at home passed either in front of television set full of fifty or something channels offering nothing worthy to watch or clicking those inanimate objects in photographic frames.
In Ceylan’s films rather than dialogue driven story, viewers have to feel the image and sound. No he didn’t use background music in his later films like ‘Climates’ & ‘Three Monkeys’ including this one yet how wonderfully he managed to get the resonance of natural sounds in its tranquility coalesced with sudden & irritating mechanical sound whether its car horn, alarm, routine moving train on tracks. A few countries look visually as stunning and rich as Turkey, especially the snow clad city and landmarks of Istanbul and Ceylan’s camera rather than portraying locales as tourist spots features the atmosphere that somehow connects to the characters & theme. Long shots are his signature style; most of his films begin with that. But he knows how to capture silence or still moment breathing with internal vibrations of mind like Tarkovsky, in fact he paid homage to Master where the man is shown watching ‘Stalker’ on TV.
Recommended to all cinephiles who’ve witnessed either one of Ceylan films or haven’t explored anything by him.