20 June 2014 | Seyirci
A masterpiece from one of the greatest film makers of our time
Winter Sleep is a masterpiece by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a film shining with literary eloquence and incisive social criticism.
Aydin ("intellectual" in Turkish) is a failed former actor, now a hotel owner with sufficient inheritance to make him command the stage as a condescending "king" of a village in Cappadocia. He feels licensed to instruct, intrude and judge, not only on his pitiable tenants, but also on his disaffected young wife Nihal and divorced self-doubting sister Necla. This sentiment ostensibly extends to poor, uneducated and religious classes of the country, making Aydin a stereotype of the Turkish elite. The brutal taming of the horse is an allegory of his marriage; young and pretty Nihal is just another decorative item in his life, not an individual with her own rights and pursuits. Aydin also epitomizes a male-dominated society, cutting across levels of education and affluence.
A glimmer of hope comes with a stone breaking the glass. While ruthlessly and decisively able to overpower everyone else in his reign, Aydin is disturbingly challenged by a stubborn 10 year-old boy Ilyas (Arabic equivalent of Elijah, a harbinger of the Messiah).
Putting the lens on the perpetually pretending psyche of the western-styled intellectual, Winter Sleep portrays the Turkish nation struggling between the East and the West. Aydin claims to have ideals and ideas but has no intention to make a difference for the good, does not even attempt to empathize with his fellow citizens. His articulate quote from Shakespeare echoes a confession.
It's no coincidence that Nuri Bilge Ceylan was charmed by Chekhov, a like-minded author from yet another nation torn between civilizations.
Hats off to 2014 Palme d'Or judges for their audacity. By recognizing the value of Ceylan's work, they have enticed global audiences to risk 3 hours 16 minutes of their time to a non-commercial film, a feast of cinematography and acting bundled with literary gratification.