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Dreams and daily life in the countryside

The Wild Pear Tree (Ahlat Agaci)
Regissør: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

TURKISH FILM / Nuri Bilge Ceylan follows up Cannes winner Winter Sleep with a new drama about credible characters in everyday situations – without the result being trivial.


Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan has won several awards
the Cannes Film Festival, including the Palme d'Or itself for its previous film winter Sleep from 2014. So would the pear tree also participated in the main competition on
same festival this year, albeit without being rewarded with any prize.

Like winter Sleep the new film is about three hours long drama from the Turkish countryside, with a lot of dialogue and relatively little external action. In other words, this is not a commercial kiosk nightmare, but a nuanced character and relationship study that rewards the patient spectator.

Author ambition.

The film's main character is the young academic Sinan (Dogu Demirkol), who returns to a small coastal town in Canakkale Province. Here he will live with his parents in a transitional phase after finishing his studies. The ambition is to become a writer, and he has already written an essayistic and partly autobiographical novel he is trying to get published. This is probably why he is not taking his imminent teaching exam very seriously, despite the fact that this profession is prestigious in Turkey. He is also of conscientious age, and several of his fellow students have ended up as soldiers in the military, fighting alleged terrorists as the safest path to income.

This time, the filmmaker has listed both Chekhov and
Dostoevsky as sources of inspiration.

A lot of
the drama revolves around Sinan's relationship with his father, primary school teacher Idris
(Murat Cemcir). Sinan realizes early on that his father is still struggling
gambling addiction, and that he is therefore in debt to many in the village. IN
In addition, the father works to dig a well on Sinans' country estate
grandparents, where no one else thinks it will be possible to find water.
The symbolism in this speaks in rather large letters, but that's about it
multifaceted that it never feels downright banal.

There is a certain contrast between the historical significance of the area and how little drama there is today: It was in Canakkale that the Turks killed the British and the French during World War I (in the Battle of Gallipoli), and it is in the same province that the ancient Troy was lying.

The Wild Pear Tree (Ahlat Agaci)
Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan

The film is
built up from a series of conversations Sinan has with people he meets in and around
the rural home. The encounters include an old flame who gives him a
fleeting kiss – and criticizes Sinan's condescending attitude towards the village and its
residents. This arrogance is further confirmed when Sinan ends up in
discussion with a local, successful author, in a longer sequence as follows
each slips into a dream scene.

Illusion Groundbreaking.

Oddly enough, this film comes to Norwegian cinemas the same month as Olivier Assayas' Between the lines (review here), which is also a highly dialogue-driven film centered around the author of a partially autobiographical novel. However, the similarities between the two films are not very striking: Where Assayas has created an enjoyable drama comedy based on the publishing industry and the trend for so-called reality literature, is So would the pear tree a more melancholic tale of artistic ambitions in the face of an illusion-breaking reality.

Certain elements appear to be deliberately unresolved.

Possibly there is an irony in the fact that Sinans
mother and sister almost continuously watch soap operas on television, in a film that is similar
with such series consisting of dialogues between characters in more or less close
relationship to each other. However, Ceylan and his regular photographer Gökhan Tiryaki make sure to do So would the pear tree to
a cinematic experience with tasteful compositions and elegant camera movements.
Occasionally, unconventional visual solutions are chosen, which reach parts of a
discussion about the relevance of religion in society is filmed from a distance – preferably
with the characters walking away from the camera.

Poetic and realistic

With the depiction of local bureaucracy, the inflamed relationship between city and country and the more structural aspects of the country's military power, it can be argued that So would the pear tree draws a picture of today's Turkey. But the focus of Ceylan and his co-authors Akin Aksu and Ebru Ceylan is primarily on the people who populate the story.

The Wild Pear Tree (Ahlat Agaci)
Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan

He lived
elements also seem to be deliberately unresolved, such as the fantasy sequences and some
apparently important characters who are not given the dramaturgical function man

winter Sleep was loosely based on short stories by Chekhov, and now shall
the filmmaker to have been inspired by both Chekhov and Dostoyevsky. Again changes
our sympathy for the various characters over the course of the film, albeit not in equal measure
degree as in the previous film. Sinan's youthful arrogance is recognisable, but since
he exhibits a consistently condescending attitude towards the people around him,
It's hard to really sympathize with him. On the other hand, we get more and more
respect for the impressively positive father, who seems to have found a form for
balance between daydreams and pragmatic daily life – despite the fact that
his life choices have greatly affected both his family's finances and his own
respect in the local community.

This time too, Ceylan has made a complex film about credible characters in everyday situations – without being trivial. Unlike winter Sleep however, it would not justify The Pear Tree's extended playing time in the same compelling way. Several scenes are seen as unnecessarily long, and the story might need some clearer turning points. At the same time, it is fascinating to see how the filmmaker avoids collecting all the threads of the drama and yet it makes it feel complete. The wild pear tree is both poetic and realistic, without these elements at the expense of each other.

So would the pear tree their Norwegian cinema premiere 3. May

avatar photos
Aleksander Huser
Huser is a regular film critic in Ny Tid.

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