THE (KASABA) (director/writer:
Nuri Bilge Ceylan; screenwriter: story by Emin Ceylon;
cinematographer: Nuri Bilge Ceylan;
Ergürsel; music: Ali Kayaci;
cast: Cihat Bütün, Emin
Ceylon, Fatma Ceylon, Muzaffer
Özdemir, Havva Saglam, Emin
Toprak; Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; Artificial
Eye; 1997-Turkey-in Turkish with English subtitles)
"Outstanding feature debut."
by Dennis Schwartz
title Kasaba means small town. Turkish director-writer
Nuri Bilge Ceylan's ("Clouds of
May"/"Climates"/"Distant") outstanding feature debut
is an autobiographical work shot in black and white,
non-professional actors and members of his own family.
It's a rambling but accomplished work following a
schoolgirl and her younger brother through the four
seasons, who live in an impoverished rural small town
where not much happens. We see the world through the
eyes of these children.
lyrical film opens during a snowy winter, in a
schoolroom, where the teacher conveys the message of
community responsibility and loyalty to country being
of utmost importance. It follows in spring to a
cemetery, in the middle of a corn field, where the
11-year-old girl picks plums and her curious
7-year-old brother learns that a turtle will die if
his shell is on the ground, since the turtle can't
turn over on his own. On a summertime family picnic,
extended family members talk at night as they sit by a
camp fire in the woods and roast maize. They talk
passionately about the past, the high price of a
haircut, civilization, poverty, war and their fears.
The grand-dad talks proudly of being a British POW
during the First World War, while the sibling's dad,
the only educated man in the village, talks about his
admiration for Alexander the Great as a soldier and
that his education was accomplished because he was
driven to learn despite the hardships of getting an
education. Also at the picnic is an alienated single
cousin, who has become an idler since discharged from
his military obligation and sneers at work, war and
society rules. The fall scene is uneventful but serene
dream-like one, as the family returns home and the
girl stands by the peaceful stream that runs by her
muted but observant film has these ordinary folks
trying to make sense of their lives, and envisions
life in a small town and what are the aspirations of
the people; especially, in regards to relating to their
nationality and their place in the world.
the Caligari Prize at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 1/13/2012 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ