Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Original theatrical poster
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Produced by Zeynep Özbatur Atakan
Written by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Ercan Kesal
Ebru Ceylan
Starring Muhammet Uzuner
Yılmaz Erdoğan
Taner Birsel
Cinematography Gökhan Tiryaki
Editing by Bora Gökşingöl
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Studio Zeyno Film
Distributed by Cinema Guild
Release date(s) 21 May 2011 (2011-05-21) (Cannes Film Festival)
23 September 2011 (2011-09-23) (Turkey)
Running time 157 minutes
Country Turkey
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Language Turkish

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Turkish: Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da) is a 2011 Turkish drama film, co-written and directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan based on the true experience of one of the film's writers, telling the story of a group of men who search for a dead body on the Anatolian steppe. The film, which went on nationwide general release across Turkey on September 23, 2011 (2011-09-23), premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival where it was a co-winner of the Grand Prix. The film has been selected as Turkey's official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[1][2]



A group of men including a police officer, a doctor, a district attorney, drivers, civil servants, grave diggers, gendarmerie forces and two homicide offender brothers drive through on rural Anatolian steppes in a single night at a town named Keskin in search of a body buried under an unknown location.The killer leads the police officer from one fountain to another because at the time of the crime he was intoxicated thus he can not recall specifically where he and his mentally challenged brother buried the body.Anatolian steppes' similarity and indistinguishable physical appearance does not help the killer nor the policeman in their quest because every fountain they arrive is pretty much same with the prior one.

During their mission Turkish men interact with each other under varying topics such as yoghurt, lamb chops, urination, family, spouses, ex-wives, death, suicide, hierarchy, bureaucracy, moral ethics, past, their jobs and especially about themselves behind each others back with a smile on their face and confess or imply secrets also things they feel guilty most about their personal lives.

Before dawn the district attorney gets hungry so the group drops by at a nearby village to eat and drink.After the meal the killer confesses his purpose of the murder -the victims son was actually his and after he slipped that secret from his mouth, things got ugly- and whereabouts of the body.

The sun comes up, the body is discovered and taken to the state mortuary.The police leaves after the discovery, the D.A. invites victims wife to identify the body in the morgue women replies "Yes" the first and only word spoken by a female in the whole movie. Than he files necessary paperwork and leaves the corpse to the doctor for regular autopsy process.When they cut up the body, soil is visible in throat and lungs but the doctor intentionally does not put that evidence on record which proves that the victim was buried alive, may help the offenders getting away with smaller charges.The doctor watches the widower and her son through the window with blood of the victim on his face, the movie ends.


  • Muhammet Uzuner as Doctor Cemal
  • Yılmaz Erdoğan as Commissar Naci
  • Taner Birsel as Prosecutor Nusret
  • Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan as Chauffeur Arap Ali
  • Fırat Tanış as Suspect Kenan
  • Ercan Kesal as Mukhtar
  • Cansu Demirci as Mukhtar's Daughter
  • Erol Eraslan as Murder Victim Yaşar
  • Uğur Arslanoğlu as Courthouse Driver Tevfik
  • Murat Kılıç as Police Officer İzzet
  • Şafak Karali as Courthouse Clerk Abidin
  • Emre Şen as Sergeant Önder
  • Burhan Yıldız as Suspect Ramazan
  • Nihan Okutucu as Yaşar's wife Gülnaz


Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan grew up in a small town similar to the one in the film in terms of mentality and hierarchy, and says he feels a close connection to the characters depicted. The story is based on real events. One of Ceylan's co-writers was an actual doctor, and, in order to attain his license, had been required to work for two years in the town where the plot is set. The story in the film is based on very similar events the co-writer experienced during this period. The title of the film references Sergio Leone's film Once Upon a Time in the West, and was something one of the drivers uttered during the actual events. When writing the screenplay, the filmmakers tried to be as realistic as possible, and the main aim was to portray the special atmosphere, which had left a strong impression on the doctor. At one point in the film the realism seemingly breaks, as one of the characters sees a ghost; according to Ceylan however the ghost only appears in a dream, and "dreams are part of life, they are realistic elements."[3] A number of quotations from stories by Anton Chekhov were also incororated in the script.[3]

The film was produced through Turkey's Zeyno Film, in co-production with the Bosnian company Production2006 Sarajevo, and the Turkish companies NBC Film, 1000 Volt Post Production, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, Imaj and Fida Film.[4] Filming took place during eleven weeks around Keskin, a district of the Kırıkkale Province in Central Anatolia.[5] It was shot in the CinemaScope format.[4]


Once Upon a Time in Anatolia premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival on 21 May.[6] The Turkish premiere was on 21 September 2011 at the 18th International Adana Golden Boll Film Festival. The film was released in regular theatres two days later.[7]


Dave Calhoun reviewed the film for Time Out London: "Ceylan is a sly and daring screen artist of the highest order and should draw wild praise with this new film for challenging both himself and us, the audience, with this lengthy, rigorous and masterly portrait of a night and day in the life of a murder investigation[.]" Calhoun compared the film to the director's previous works and noted how it to a lesser extent follows genre conventions: "Displaying a new interest in words and story (albeit of the most elusive kind), Once Upon A Time in Anatolia feels like a change of direction for Ceylan and may disappoint those who were especially attracted to the urbane melancholia of Uzak and Climates. ... Beyond being chronological, the film follows no obvious storytelling pattern. Things happen when they do and at a natural rhythm. ... Ceylan invites us along for the ride – but only if we're up for it."[8]

The film received the Cannes Film Festival's second most prestigious award, the Grand Prix, in a shared win with the film The Kid with a Bike by the Dardenne brothers.[9]

See also


  1. ^ "Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da Oscar'a aday adayı oldu". Haberturk. http://www.haberturk.com/kultur-sanat/haber/674996-bir-zamanlar-anadoluda-oscara-aday-adayi-oldu. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 
  2. ^ "63 Countries Vie for 2011 Foreign Language Film Oscar". oscars.org. http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2011/20111013.html. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  3. ^ a b Proimakis, Joseph (2011-05-31). "Interview with Nuri Bilge Ceylan". Cineuropa. http://cineuropa.org/interview.aspx?lang=en&documentID=204434. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  4. ^ a b "Press kit English Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da". Zeyno Film. http://www.festival-cannes.com/assets/Image/Direct/040219.pdf. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  5. ^ Staff writer (2011-05-19). "Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 'Anatolia' making first Cannes splash". Today's Zaman. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-244457-nuri-bilge-ceylans-anatolia-making-first-cannes-splash.html. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  6. ^ "Horaires 2011" (in French). festival-cannes.com. Cannes Film Festival. http://www.festival-cannes.fr/assets/File/Web/HORAIRES%202011/Horaire%20internet.pdf. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  7. ^ Staff writer. "'Anatolia' given Turkish premiere in Adana". Today's Zaman. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-257643-anatolia-given-turkish-premiere-in-adana.html. Retrieved 2011-09-27. 
  8. ^ Calhoun, Dave (May 2011). "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia". Time Out London. http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/89838/once-upon-a-time-in-anatolia.html. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  9. ^ Collett-White, Mike; Vinocur, Nick (2011-05-22). "Factbox: Prize winners at 2011 Cannes film festival". Reuters.com. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/22/us-cannes-winners-fb-idUSTRE74L2K820110522. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 

External links

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  • Anatolia — /an euh toh lee euh/, n. a vast plateau between the Black and the Mediterranean seas: in ancient usage, synonymous with the peninsula of Asia Minor; in modern usage, applied to Turkey in Asia. Cf. Asia Minor. * * * or Asia Minor Turkish Anadolu… …   Universalium

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  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan — (* 26. Januar 1959[1] in Istanbul) ist ein türkischer Filmregisseur, Drehbuchautor, Filmproduzent und Fotograf …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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