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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)

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Released 3-Oct-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Directors Suite Trailers x 4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 150:44
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Madman Entertainment
Starring Muhammet Uzuner
Yilmaz Erdogan
Taner Birsel
Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan
Firat Tanis
Ercan Kesal
Erol Erarslan
Ugur Aslanoglu
Murat Kiliç
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In the pre-title sequence of Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da) three men are seen in one long pull in through a window eating and drinking at a truck repair shop on the main road. There is no music and their voices are indistinct, the only sounds are a dog barking and vehicles passing on the road. Welcome to the world of Turkish writer / director Nuri Bilge Ceylan and the film that won the Jury Grand Prize at Cannes in 2011.

     As the film proper starts it is dusk and three cars are seen traversing the barren Anatolian landscape. One of the men in the pre-title sequences has been murdered and buried somewhere on the plateau. The other two men have confessed to the killing and are leading the Police to the body. The problem is that the main suspect, Kenan (Firat Tanis), explains that he was drunk when he buried the body and has trouble remembering exactly where it is. In the cars with the suspects are a number of police, including Police Chief Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan), plus Doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner), Prosecutor Nusret (Taner Birsel), soldiers and a couple a diggers. During one long night, the group travel the back-roads of the plateau, visiting various locations. In the course of the search the film reveals the anxieties and personalities of those involved, and an insight into the way of life on the bleak and windswept Anatolian plateau. And even, after dawn, when the corpse is finally discovered there are many more questions still to be answered.

     Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a beautiful, hypnotic film where nothing is as it seems. It is made entirely without music (except for one brief song on a car radio) and so is carried exclusively by the visuals, the performances and the dialogue. The film, shot by cinematographer Gokhan Tiryake, is replete with long, static widescreen visuals of the cars travelling across the barren landscape in the dusk or during the night with the car lights casting an eerie yellow glow on the surrounding hills as they move. When the cars stop to investigate a possible site for the body, the sequence is often shot in medium wideshots, disclosing the men’s frames lit and silhouetted by the car lights, giving an otherworldly, disorienting feel. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is, quite simply, gorgeous to look at.

     The film has a nice touch of black humour, such as when the men are trying to get the corpse into the boot of a car. The performances are uniformly excellent, low key and believable. Each of the main characters has their own demons, and their own thoughts which are sometimes revealed through inner monologues but more frequently by snatches of dialogue. This is not a film that provides copious exposition but a film where little, and much, is said, a film that rewards those who are prepared to pay attention to the dialogue while watching the stunning images. On one basic level, the film is a simple police procedural, but just like the Doctor, the character who is our main entry point into the events on-screen, we must piece together the clues and arrive at our own conclusions.

     Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is slow moving, and very little seems to happen, at least on the surface. Ostensibly a police procedural, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerising search into the soul of mankind, where nothing is as it seems. This film is a masterwork, a must see for anyone even remotely interested in quality cinema.

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Transfer Quality


     Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a film shot predominately at night often using, it seems, car lights to illuminate the scene. As such the film can look quite soft and grainy, in fact sometimes it seems like it was shot through a gauze, or, indeed, a dirty window which is often the case. These things effect the shadow detail, but I think that this was deliberate and we see just what the filmmaker intends us to see. For example, scenes where the men are lit only by an eerie yellow glow from the car lights look beautiful, but of course lack sharpness.

     Colours are dull and muted throughout; this is the Anatolian winter after all. In the dawn the sky is grey, while the plateau is covered by waving yellow grasslands; there is no blue here, and limited greens. Skin tones also take on a yellow tinge, although contrast and brightness are consistent. Blacks are fine.

     Other than slight shimmer on the steps at 114:39 I did not notice any obvious film or film to video artefacts.

    English subtitles are available in either yellow or white. They are clear and easy to read and I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     A beautiful print, looking as the filmmaker intended.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is a Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps.

     Dialogue was clear, except when it was intended that we hear only snatches. The film has no music, and the surrounds carry only some ambient sound, such as wind, and the occasional thunder effect. However, the audio can be very effective, such as in the autopsy scene where it is quite graphic, or sudden thunder. The sub-woofer supported the thunder.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     There is no music.

     The layer chance occurred in a scene transition at 81:35 and except for the audio drop out would not be noticed.

     A low key natural audio track, again as intended by the filmmaker.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a film that needs help to interpret and understand all that is going on. Unfortunately, this Directors Suite DVD release contains none of the extras found in the Region 1 DVD, or the Blu-rays released in other regions.

Theatrical Trailer (1:33)

Directors Suite Trailers

     Trailers for other Directors Suite films from Madman: Le Havre (2:22), The Kid with a Bike (1:48), Certified Copy (2:01) and Honey (1:33).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US NTSC version of the film includes an interview with the director, a featurette “Anatolia in Cannes”, a featurette “Lost in Thought” (on Ceylan), as well as a booklet and trailer. Our DVD release, with only the theatrical trailer, is considerably short-changed which is a pity for such an important film. Thus, for DVD, the Region 1 US would be the preferred version.

     The Region A Blu-ray has all the above, plus an extensive making of. The Region B UK Blu-ray (which I own) includes the making of (92:42), an interview with the director at Cannes (23:44) and the trailer.


     Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, from Turkish writer / director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is a beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerising search into the soul of mankind, where nothing is as it seems. This film is a masterwork, a must see for anyone even remotely interested in quality cinema.

     The DVD has stunning visuals supported by the video, the audio is fine. A trailer, unfortunately, is the only relevant extra and we miss out on the extras available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, January 05, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE