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Cannes Film Festival 2014

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 'Winter Sleep' is not what it seems

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Palme d'Or winner for "Winter Sleep", Cannes, 24 May
Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Palme d'Or winner for "Winter Sleep", Cannes, 24 May Reuters/Regis Duvignau

For its closing movie this year, Cannes changed its habits and showed a classic, A Fistful of Dollars – Un Pugno Pieno di Dollari of 1964, considered to be the first Spaghetti Western. It's a film which could hardly be in greater contrast to the winner of this year's Palme d'Or ...

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Quentin Tarantino, a man of action movies, presented Sergio Leone’s.

The contrast with the Jury’s choice of film is probably a coincidence, nonetheless it’s an obvious one.

Dossier: Cannes Film Festival 2014

Jane Campion and her international team of eight directors and actors, decided that the Golden Palm award should go to a film with a concentration of words and only measured action.

In Winter Sleep, the land of Central Anatolia in Turkey is quickly covered with snow, but the heart of the earth beats still, ready to be awakened when it’s time. Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan allows more than three hours for audiences to think about it.

“This film needs more help than the others because it’s very long and I don’t have any intention to shorten it. I hope that this award will help other difficult art films to survive in the jungle,” he said.

If action there is, it’s sparse - a boy breaks a 4x4 window with a stone, his father cuts his hand by breaking the window of his own house with it.

The main character, Aydin, played pensively by Haluk Bilginer, remains aloof from it all. He’s a landowner, master of his hotel, his land, his tenants, his wife and sister, and he delegates.

He does everything, even his own writing, at a distance. His action is to free the once-wild horse he has had captured and broken-in, then, after emptying his body and his mind, to free himself. The two women, his young wife Nihal (Melisa Sözen), his divorced sister, Necla (Demet Akbag), provoke the retiree.

Far from Tarantino and Leone’s cinema world though it may be, Winter Sleep is a sort of action film after all.

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