Winter Sleep (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
May 16, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Winter Sleep” is an entertaining, smartly written, conversational film from director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. A film that uses conversation as a way to bring out the characters, in a similar style of Bergman and Rohmer, I was captivated by the film for its intelligence and beauty. “Winter Sleep” is highly recommended!
© 2014 Adopt Films. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: Winter Sleep
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 196 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Color, 16:9, Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 with English Subtitles
COMPANY: Adopt Films/Kino Lorber
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: May 5, 2015
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Written by Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Inspired by the Short Stories by Anton Chekhov
Produced by Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan
Co-Produced by Remi Burah, Mustafa Dok, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Olivier Pere
Executive Produced by Sezgi Ustun
Cinematography by Gokhan Tiryaki
Edited by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Bora Goksingol
Art Direction by Gamze Kus
Haluk Bilginer as Aydin
Melisa Sozen as Nihal
Demet Akbag as Necla
Ayberk Peckan as Hidayet
Serhat Mustafa Kilic as Hamdi
Nejat Isler as Ismail
Nadir Saribacak as Levent
Emirhan Doruktutan as Ilyas
Directed by the Turkish cinema master, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, this enthralling, brilliantly photographed film won the top prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was Turkey’s entrant in the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film category. Ceylan’s Once Upon A Time in Anatolia had shared the top prize at Cannes in 2011. Set in the amazingly picturesque Cappadocia region in central Turkey, the exterior scenes strikingly capture the remarkable topography a World Heritage site while the interior scenes bring Rembrandt to mind. A retired actor has inherited a small hotel where he is ensconced with his recently divorced sister, his much younger and growingly discontented wife. A seemingly trivial incident sets in motion a drama of personalities at odds with each other and the paths their lives have taken. The superb cast of actors quickly takes your attention and won’t let it go.
From Award winning Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan (“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, “Three Monkeys”, “Distant”) comes his latest film “Winter Sleep” (Kis Uykusu), an adaptation from the short story “The Wife” by Anton Chekhov.
The film would star Haluk Bilginer (“The International”, “Innocence”), Melisa Sozen (“Hunting Season”, “Cenneti Beklerken”), Demet Akbag (“Eyyvah Eyvah”, “Vizontele”), Serhat Mustafa Kilic (“Remember Darling”, “Veda – Ataturk”) and Nadir Saribacak (“Yozgat Blues”, “Sarmasik”).
“Winter Sleep” was the winner of the Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and now, the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Adopt Films.
“Winter Sleep” is set in Anatolia (western Asia) and revolves around a famous and retiring actor Aydin (portrayed by Haluk Bilginer). Aydin runs a mountaintop hotel known as Cappadocia and is also a writer for the local newspaper and often researches the history of Turkish theater for a possible book.
He is married to Nihal (portrayed by Melisa Sozen) and lives with her and his sister Necla (portrayed by Demet Akbag). He happens to be wealthy, educated and quite opinionated.
One day as Aydin and his assistant Hidayet (portrayed by Ayberk Pekcan) are driving to a nearby village, a young boy named Ilyas, throws a rock and shatters his window. Hidayet takes Ilyas to his father Ismail (portrayed by Nejat Isler), which we learn that Ismail and his family are behind on rent and so Aydi sent a collection agency after them and took away their television and refrigerator and because Ismail resisted, he was beaten by the local police.
As Hidayet tries to get an answer of why Ilyas threw the rock, Ismail slaps his son and breaks his fist on a window to see if they are satisfied with the punishment. But Ismail’s anger starts to get the best of him and before things get messy, his brother Hamdi (portrayed by Serhat Mustafa Kilic), a local imam (a worship leader in the community), intervenes.
Because of the messy situation, Hamdi repeatedly tries to bring Ilyas in an attempt to make amends with Aydin but because it annoys him, he writes a column of how an imam should be to their community.
But we then gradually get to see how the people close to Aydin resents him because of his critical verbal ways. His sister Necla feels he uses his power just sitting and writing and criticizing people (and the two often exchange barbs towards one another). While his young wife Nihal is often disturbed by him and while she tries to give back by fundraising for developing schools, Aydin dismisses her actions as nothing that will result to failure because unlike him, she is inexperienced and not educated.
And this leads to individuals reexamining their relationship to Aydin.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Winter Sleep” is presented in 16:9 and Turkish 5.1 Surround Sound with English subtitles. If one wants the best picture and audio quality, I highly recommend going for the Blu-ray version of this film, rather than the DVD. With that being said, the DVD does look and sound good, but as best as one would expect for DVD. I didn’t notice any major compression issues or problems with audio.
“Winter Sleep” comes with no special features.
“Winter Sleep” is another wonderful film from filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
But I classify his films, almost in a similar context with French filmmaker Eric Rohmer or Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman in which intelligent conversation dominates the entire film.
I am drawn to smartly written films in which conversations explore one’s perspective towards life and these conversations and their reactions are ways of character development. Something quite rare to see in today’s cinema.
Earlier in the film, we know of Aydin’s power in the village and how there is a unique divide as he is wealthy, he is very critical and in his mind, his thoughts are almost final and no one can change it.
In showing the character of Hidayet and Ismail or even Hamdi and Ismail, he is not a character that can put himself in the shoes of those who are without money. He can not and will not care for the poor, he has a set way of thinking. Why did young Ilyas throw a rock at the window of Aydin’s car? It’s evident that the young boy despises the landlord who has made his family suffer.
And while Hamdi also despises Aydin, as the imam of his village and also his family is involved, he must try to make sure any friction is calmed before things can get any worse.
But while Hamdi and Aydin’s scenes show the divide between rich and poor, the juxtaposition between Aydin and his young wife Nihal is what I find most interesting.
Nihal’s face shows how distant she is from Aydin, her face shows nothing but discontent of a woman who knows that everything she says to her husband, does not matter. He is opinionated and everything must go his way and nothing else. She is not an equal partner in this relationship, she is just a woman that remains with him because of his power, wealth and influence.
But the film wouldn’t be as enjoyable if the women did not at least challenge Aydin in his thoughts and beliefs, both Nihal and his sister Necla do their best to challenge his beliefs, especially of the topic surrounding one should not resist evil. A debate if one is attacked by something evil, do you let it happen or do you fight back? Will the victim’s choice change the perpetrator if they did not fight back or resist?
But a film examines that for Aydin, does this man have a care, a heart towards the people around him? Or has his beliefs made him indifferent to others?
As for the DVD, it’s important to note that if you want the best picture or audio quality, a Blu-ray version is available for the film. The DVD does look good, as one can expect from DVD, and there are no special features included.
Overall, “Winter Sleep” is an entertaining, smartly written, conversational film from director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. A film that uses conversation as a way to bring out the characters, in a similar style of Bergman and Rohmer, I was captivated by the film for its intelligence and beauty.
“Winter Sleep” is highly recommended!
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