Winter Sleep

Nov 13, 2014

Winter Sleep is a Chekhovian drama from acclaimed director Nuri Bilge Ceylan filled with symbolism, prejudice and uncertainty.

Presented in Turkish with English subtitles, it sees Ceylan boldly probe the dark recesses of the mind, seeking answers and engaging his cast in imposing conversations of the sort that are ordinarily kept at arm’s length.

Aydin (Haluk Bulginer) is a man with status who dominates his environment and the people who cross his path. A former actor and regular column writer for the local paper (Voices of the Steppe), he is self-assured, comfortably well-off and fortunate enough to inherit the means to support his closed-minded views. From his study desk he observes the workings of the world at a safe distance, making plans to write a book on the history of theatre.

Aydin also manages “Hotel Othello”, a small tourist establishment nestled in a dramatic mountain region and carved out of the surrounding landscape of volcanic rock. He lives on site with his much younger wife, Nihal, and his sister Necla. There is a valley of distance between the family members, each with a brewing tale wanting to be told.

The human condition, primal instincts and motivations are explored through the film’s characters. From tenants struggling to pay their rent, to the broken alcoholic, conflict and dispute-filled bitterness underpin exchanges captured with wide-angled cinematography.

Winter Sleep explores a number of universal concepts, from the hypocrisy embedded in religion to the irony of familial expectations. Acts of rebellion and resistance are directed at do-gooders, while benevolent actions are met with outrage and outright hostility. In one climatic scene, Nihal learns the hard way that you can’t save someone who does not want to be saved.

The film shines a light on the magnitude of discontent and resignation rife in this world, and takes a cold, hard look at the futility of judging others.

Ceylan has won numerous awards with his previous films, including Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) and Three Monkeys (2008), and this latest effort has already scooped up the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, as well as winning the Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival.



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