Kasaba: The Majestic Beginnings of Nuri Bilge Ceylan (review)

Kasaba: The Majestic Beginnings of Nuri Bilge Ceylan (review)

Unpublished until now, the first feature film by the author of Dry Herbs makes it possible to measure the original power of his staging

It is always interesting to discover after the fact the first weapons of a beloved filmmaker. In 1999, Nuri Bilge Ceylan was already 40 years old when he presented his first feature film, Kasaba (The Little Town), but it is with his second opus, May cloudsspotted at the Berlinale in 2000, that the international public spot this filmmaker who will very quickly be decked out with several bird names, to choose from: Kiarostami, Tarkovski and of course Bergman, whose affiliation he continues to claim.

Summer 2023, barely recovered from the discovery of Dried herbsthe distributor Memento has the good idea to offer this Kasaba that we will necessarily put next to his latest masterpiece. And already, there is this snow covering the setting of a village in the Turkish countryside. A snow whose significance is reinforced by a raw black and white. Children have fun doing slides before suspending their flight to let ” the fool “. The latter, in a Chaplinesque movement stumbles, the camera captures his face in close-up. The film will be seen in the light of this disturbed spirit, therefore, enlightened, according to the precepts of the plays of Anton Chekhov (the other idol of Nuri Bilge Ceylan). The first part of the film takes place in a school class where the teacher has his pupils read aloud, ” the rules that govern social life fake… The action takes place in the seventies. Here the dialogues seem to evaporate in a setting that sometimes has fun putting them into perspective or contradicting them. Nuri Bilge Ceylan or the art of detail, of metaphor… It’s a snowman that a toddler has fun knocking over just after the shot of a bust of Mustapha Kemal Atatürk, the melancholy gaze of a donkey Bressonian or even drops of rain on the pane of a window which blurs the vision… The faces of the children literally take possession of an action which accords with the languor of suspended time. Kasaba is a wonderful film about the gaze. The beauty of the compositions testifies to the importance of an expressiveness enhanced by a divine naturalism (Tarkovski, indeed). Kasaba also knows how to wrap the spectator in a magical intimacy, as proof, this family reunion by the fireside in a clearing where a grandfather recounts his feats of arms and loses himself in a story that seems to embrace the whole history of Turkey . Kasaba is as much a discovery (it remained unpublished in France) as a sign of recognition (all of Ceylon is already there) Hurry up in theaters!

By Nuri Bilge Ceylan. With: Mehmet Emin Toprak, Havva Saglam, Cihat Bütün… Duration: 1h24. Released August 16, 2023

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