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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Turkish DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • The Making of Once Upon A Time in Anatolia
  • Interview with the director
  • Anatolia in Cannes
  • "Lost in Thought", a visual essay by Haden Guest, Director of the Harvard Film Archive
  • Theatrical Trailer

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
2011 | 157 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $34.95 | Series: Cinema Guild
Cinema Guild

Release Date: June 26, 2012
Review Date: July 2, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

In the dead of night, a group of men - among them, a police commissioner, a prosecutor, a doctor and a murder suspect - drive through the Anatolian countryside, the serpentine roads and rolling hills lit only by the headlights of their cars. They are searching for a corpse, the victim of a brutal murder. The suspect, who claims he was drunk, can't remember where he buried the body. As night wears on, details about the murder emerge and the investigators' own hidden secrets come to light. In the Anatolian steppes, nothing is what it seems; and when the body is found, the real questions begin.


PICTURE

The Cinema Guild presents Nuri Bilge Ceylanís Once Upon a Time in Anatolia in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this dual-layer disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

The film was shot in high-definition and I assume that the digital source was directly transferred to this Blu-ray disc. There are some limitations to the image, and theyíre more than likely inherent in the actual film, but in all the presentation is splendid. Half of the film takes place in the dark, with only car headlights appearing to light the scenes, yet the image is always clear an easy to see. The colours to show up during these sequences still manage to pop off the screen with perfect saturation. Black levels are rich and inky, but rarely crush details. Daylight sequences present a far brighter picture obviously, and again we get vivid colours and sharp details. A lot of the film is comprised of longs shots and still the finer details, like rocks or plants, remain clearly defined with sharp edges.

Since the film was shot on digital there are no print flaws of any kind. The image is mostly clean but I did notice some banding around headlights in places, but itís possible this is inherent in the source and not an issue with the transfer itself. As a whole, though, itís a beautiful looking image, the best Iíve yet seen from Cinema Guild and displays the filmís superb photography beautifully.

9/10

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AUDIO

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia gets a lovely DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. Itís a reflective, quiet film but it still manages to show off your system in spots. Dialogue sticks to the front speakers and is clear, but all sound effects creep through to the rear speakers and naturally move around the viewer. Thereís a heavy use of subtle sound effects, like the chirps of insects or a breeze blowing through the field, but there are some great moments involving a storm that seems to be growing closer by the minute; thunder can be heard overhead with a great amount of bass. The track is also crystal clear with no noise or distortion, and all sounds, especially the thunder, sounds realistic and natural. An impressive and clean presentation.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Cinema Guild delivers a fairly loaded special edition, though I only found a few things worthwhile. The biggest feature is the documentary (apparently exclusive to this Blu-ray) The Making of Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, running under 97-minutes. Made up of high-def digital footage and what looks like footage shot on a Flip camera (or something similar) it offers a ďfly on the wallĒ look at the making of the film, with footage of Ceylan directing his actors or pulling them aside and talking to them about what theyíre doing wrong (heís blunt), along with the cast and crew huddling about discussing a scene, just hanging out, or footage of the actors talking about the director and their characters. We also get to see some examples of the many, many takes that were done for certain shots. Itís a long piece, sometimes feeling longer than the actual film, but I found it an intriguing look at the directorís method and this filmís production.

Next, Cinema Guild devotes a large section of the supplements to the filmís Cannes premiere under Anatolia in Cannes. Under Photocall we get a 6-and-a-half-minute piece devoted to footage shot of the cast and crewís photo shoot complete with an incredibly painful commentary provided by the television commentators. After this thereís an even more painful and quick 1-and-a-half-minute television interview with the director and members of the cast. 7-minutes of footage from a press conference with the cast and crew is also provided, presenting the director first talking about a plot point at the end of the film followed by discussion of some of the technical aspects about lighting and the actors offering some notes about working with the director. Red Carpet Gala is 19-minutes of footage of everyone arriving to the premiere of the film, which was the last film to be shown during the festival. This isnít too thrilling and is typical red carpet footage showing plenty of photo ops and shots of fashions. Commentary is given over the video though none of it is all that interesting. We get teases of interviews but no translations. Iím guessing this was also footage shot for television. Event stills is a minute long piece showing a number of photos taken at Cannes around the cast and crew of Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Awards Ceremony is 13-minutes of footage from the actual awards ceremony where both Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and the Dardenne brothersí The Kid With a Bike both win the Grand Prix, announced by Jury President Robert De Niro. Ceylan gives his grateful acceptance speech, which is a wonderful one, but unfortunately the Dardenneís get cut off for the presentation here, though I guess this shouldnít be a surprise. It then concludes with a Q&A with Ceylan.

Overall Iím glad of the inclusion of all of this material though I found most of the footage fluff, typical television coverage. Only the awards ceremony was the section I found most worthwhile.

We then get some more footage from Cannes with the included interview with director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The 24-minute piece features the director talking about various aspects of the film, from the technical difficulties in shooting at night and making the lighting look natural to casting. He talks about Chekhov, a huge influence on his work, and then the appeal of crime stories. He admits he doesnít have worries about making a commercially successful film but does show a certain disappointment and fear about where filmmaking is going, now that everyone appears to be more concerned with making money. Itís a good interview mostly, though the interviewer occaionally cuts him off when Ceylan is getting into something interesting. As well, despite the fact most of his questions are good, he does have a few fluffy ones, however Ceylan manages to steer onto more engaging topics.

Cinema Guild then includes a video essay by Haden Guest, Director of the Harvard Film Archive. Entitled Lost in Thought, the 23-minute piece looks at the film and the common themes that cross all of Ceyanís films. It has some decent insights but itís unfortunately a fairly painful essay: Iím not sure if Guest is tired or ill prepared but there are a lot of moments that feel like heís trying to collect his thoughts, he stammers constantly, meanders, and I swear heís holding back yawns at moments, or suffering indigestion. Not trying to come off cruel, but itís one of the rougher video essays Iíve viewed on a DVD or Blu-ray.

The release then closes with the filmís American theatrical trailer and an insert includes a brief introduction about the filmís director.

A lot of stuff, though I could have done without most of it, the Cannes material being the most disappointing short the Ceylan interview.

6/10

CLOSING

A decent if unspectacular set of supplements but the audio and video presentation are both superb, stunning even. The Blu-ray comes with a high recommendation.




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