Kış Uykusu (Winter Sleep) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan


I watched Winter Sleep in the train back to Berlin and Ceylan is indulging himself with his movies becoming ever longer. Winter Sleep clocks in at three hours and fifteen minutes so by the time it was over I found myself well past Hannover.

The movie is about freedom—the bit with the horse and the guy on the motorcycle sort of gave it away—and in particularly the fact that however much apparent physical freedom people may have, they will not take advantage of it because their effective freedom is the product of complex social negotiation. At some point people become trapped both within themselves and by each other.

The script is based on writing by Chekhov which is apparent in the self-contained rustic scenes interspersed by the conversations of a family with deep seated issues. Maybe it’s just geographical proximity but Russian writers seem to be more accessible and prevalent in Turkey than I’ve found them to be in the Netherlands.

To close off the key scene with Ismail translated (mild spoilers):

Let’s see if we made a correct calculation.

If this much were for little Ilyas who put his life on the line to restore his father’s hurt pride.

If this much were for the self-sacrificing brother Hamdi forced to go kiss somebody’s hand by himself to restore his reputation.

If this much were for the drunk father Ismail who took a beating in front of his son disgracing himself and his family.

There would be a bit left.

And if that were for the heroic Ms. Nihal who by giving alms to people more unfortunate than herself tries to ease her conscience.

This would be exactly the right amount of money.

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