Climates – Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Climates - Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Some movies you will enjoy more depending on the personal stories you bring to them. Sometimes filmmakers know about the stories most people go through and tap into the emotional essence to bring them to us.

I think this man really tapped into a subterrenean moving force that has some universal appeal. Not only in the story, but in the rhythm the discovery of this feeling occurs within us. But this in itself comes from two previous masters: Bergman and Tarkovsky.

Perhaps I wouldn’t be so inclined to cite this man’s influences if he weren’t so keen on informing us of them. He obviously considers himself minor to his influences, and this is reflected in the deliberate minimalism we find here. So there’s an earnestness that’s appreciated. However, the scope is too local to really project something powerful.

So it’s an enjoyable space to be in for the duration, but not a memorable stay. And this is what is so frustrating. He has local skills, like the way he composes shots, the rhythm in the way he cuts, and even the look on a woman’s face, but these things are never coordinated to be part of larger symphony, a narrative dance, something sublime that could wrap itself around your soul. I am convinced he knows this, and it frustrates him as well. So he tried his hand at something in that direction in the last part of it. Now this could have been a wonderful short film in itself, the ending here:

After having been told off by his former lover, he treks in a cab to a hilly place, to take some pictures for his thesis (get it? the long-form work he can never finish). He finds a wonderful angle of the landscape but hesitates to photograph it. He finally does but asks the driver to be in the frame, saying that it’ll be different for a change after all those pictures without people in them. He directs him to ‘look serious’. We are then shown the picture.

Now the final scene is exactly that same event, but entangled with what we know about the disconnection between him and his former lover. She stands in front of a wonderful landscape…’looking serious’…we linger on her for a good while, till she dissapears and only the landscape remains. Right before that we get a direct citation from Bergman in the telling of a dream to her lover. We then see her recreate this dream in the TV story she is filming (she works for TV)…and the take is suddenly interrupted by the sound of a plane overhead. Her lover is on that plane.

You see how clean this is? Even with the Bergmanesque annotation I would have infused it with its own personal merit. But no, it’s only one sequence. (And I’m convinced the wife wrote it).

I want to like this film, really. But it is only one cloud in the sky it directly references (and that sky is one of the most wonderful skies in cinema). I’ve been watching very good films lately, so am not so lucky to rate this by comparison. But maybe next time, if there is one. Maybe the next heartbreak (if there is one).

Oh, but if there is one reason you should watch this, it is the main actress. She is the director’s wife. She has a magnificient presence, infering the disconnection, loss, serenity, with only a few looks. I’m not sure what it is, maybe it’s those deep eyes. But those eyes, are a movie worth watching.


Categories: Notes

2 replies »

  1. This was my favourite film at last year’s Melbourne Film Festival. I found the film resonated with me for months after (even now). Even aside from the magnificent cinematography (we don’t see snow here), the changing relationship through the changes of seasons had a real grow-on-you effect.

    Your opening comment is apt, because the ability to appreciate something like this will depend on what one brings to it. I liked the ambiguity, the lack of explanation, the mystery. It leaves room to think, to ruminate, to wonder.

    I thought Ceylan was very bold to make a film in which he features so prominently as such an unlikeable character. While our natural inclination is to side with the wife, she certainly wasn’t faultless. A very nuanced film, indeed.

  2. first of all, mr. martin, I entirely agree with you. Mr. Hugo needs to be less critical towards this man’s work. Climates is a very good movie, although not as good as Uzak. This director reminds me of Bergman, and that’s a huge compliment. The final scene where the woman recounts her dream is a direct quotation from Bergman, and it is done expertly. This movie deserves all the awards it has won, with its moody atmosphere and the story of loss in the center.

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