Saturday, 16 February 2013


Once Upon a Time in Anatolia - poster [Original Title: Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da]

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Writers: Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ercan Kesal
Running time: 150 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Crime/Drama
USA Release date: 16th March 2012

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 16th February 2013.


A film much loved by the critics; picking up nominations and awards at film festivals all over the world; I thought it worthy of a look. Not least because one Mark Kermode, a critic whose opinion I respect and who listen to via podcast on a weekly basis, recommended it as his TV movie of the week. For those that fear the subtitle; I know there are still a few of you out there; I should warn you that the film is in Turkish and yes, there are subtitles. Also, it’s a very long film; at two and a half hours it’s quite a time commitment; but worth it IMO. So for those I haven’t put off by now, here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia - 1 The film plots the investigation of a murder and we follow a group of officials as they try to locate the body of the deceased. They have brought along two suspects; principal of which is Kenan (Firat Tanis); who is having trouble remembering exactly where the body was left, claiming he had been drinking at the time. The Police Commissar, Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan), gives him a hard time about this to the extent that Prosecutor Nusret (Taner Birsel) has to step in at one point to calm him down. Also along is the Doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner); who is present to determine the cause of death; if possible. The search begins at night and after trying a few locations the party decides to take a rest at a local village. It’s a very bleak landscape and they find their task quite tiring and so a break is very welcome. The next day brings the final discovery of the body and whatever consequences that might carry.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia - 5 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.

IMDb Score: 7.7/10 (based on 14,460 votes when this review was written).

MetaScore: 82/100: (Based on 21 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia - 7 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 94/100 (based on 68 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 73/100 (based on 4,702 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia - 6 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia - 4 LINKS:
(NOTE: All links were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site:

1 comment:

Cleo Rogers said...

With its wide-open setting and taciturn, macho characters, it's a film that earns the right to use the "Once Upon a Time" title that Sergio Leone made so perversely famous.

Cleo Rogers (Janitorial Services)