Two things first. This is a very long movie. Three hours and sixteen minutes. And it won the Palm d'Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It is the longest film ever to win this award.
So, it is well worth the time it takes to watch it.
Winter Sleep: Hibernation.
Now, unlike bears, human beings do not hibernate for the winter. Not literally. But in some parts of the world the winters are long and hard enough to keep folks "shut in" -- shut into the confines of one or another sense of isolation. In this instance, in a hotel located in "the steppes of the Central Anatolia region of Cappadocia, Turkey."
And that's all it takes for those who harbor any number of resentments towards those sharing the same "inescapable shelter". Everything comes to the surface.
In one sense this film explores the dynamics of a relationship in which the "family arguments" come and go and are "resolved" not by the most reasonable frame of mind propounded [whatever that might be] but by the one most skilled in the art of rhetoric. And Aydin [the consummate narcissist] was once an actor. He knows his way around a stage. And, on a stage, performance is everything.
And in a world shrunk down basically to family/village interactions -- interactions bursting at the seams with ressentiment -- "winning" often revolves around things other than whatever the particular "truth" might be.
And then that ever ubiquitous tug of war between that which you really think and feel and how instead you are forced to embody a persona in your relationships with others. The turmoil inside and the age-old scripts that we adapt/adopt in order to keep everything from just exploding.
But: What is this but one tiny slice of the historical and cultural pie. Each of us as individuals will react to it all based on our own particular historical and cultural prejudices....on our own particular experiences reflected in [and derived from] our own particular world.
Still, it is a film in which intelligent and articulate men and women go about the business of exploring that which I think is the most important question of all: How ought one to live?
And, in particular, one gains insight into why some segments of the Muslim population today might wish to retain the ways of old. Back then there was always a place for everyone and everyone always knew their place. Not so in our post-modern world. No one is really at all sure how one ought to live. And even though the village here is way out in the sticks, modern communication technology and the internet create a whole new dynamic.
Above all, it depicts [in this day and age] the sheer futility of human communication when, in any number of contexts, we can only understand another up to a point. Then everything becomes entangled in enormously complex points of view. At least among those who venture down below the surface of human interactions.
Look for the part that is all about class. About those who have and those who don't. And how that becomes intertwined in this whole new world.IMDbDirector Nuri Bilge Ceylan revealed that he had more than 200 hours of material and his original cut was 4 hours 30 minutes. He then "worked hard" to make it down to 3 hours 15 minutes.
Winter Sleep was inspired by the short stories of Chekhov, as well as works by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Voltaire.
Turkish director Ceylan is being sued for alleged animal cruelty as one of the horses was tortured during capture. The Law for the Protection of Animals in Turkey stipulates various fines for those who commit animal cruelty. A draft code that was submitted to the Turkish Parliament this month calls for jail time for those who abuse animals.
Despite being husband and wife, Aydin and Nihal don't so much as touch each other once throughout the entire film, likely a deliberate decision from the filmmakers to show how distant the two are to each other, both emotionally and physically.
at wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_Sleep_(film
WINTER SLEEP [Kis Uykusu] 2014
Written in part and directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan Ismail [to Hidayet]: Cut it out. You took our fridge and TV for a lousy rent. Isn't that enough? Now you're hassling a kid?
Hamdi: Your window is broken and we'll pay for it. We'll pay the rent too as soon as we can. We haven't forgotten. God willing, I'll bring it to you in person. We are just having a hard time.
Hidayet: We're not here for that. That's a a different issue.
Of course it's not a different issue at all. And then the part where Allah gets factored in. And Marx too. Aydin: It's not about wealth and poverty. Poverty existed in the past, too. If you only have three olives, you can place them nicely on a plate, or gobble them out of a plastic bag.
Necla: I know what you mean.
Aydin: I told you we went to the hodja's? You know, our tenant. If you saw how filthy it was, how messy.
Necla: Did you go in?
Aydin: No, the garden. They've ruined it. First of all you are a man of God. You should be a model to your community. Shouldn't you be neat and tidy?
Aydin [to Necla]: My kingdom may be small but at least I'm the king here.
Necla [to Aydin]: Sometimes on the internet some awful writers get praised to high heaven. Everyone has their fans somewhere. That's why I think one shouldn't take such praise from the locals so seriously.
Aydin: I must say that you surprised me, Nihal.
Aydin: Well, because thanks to you this hotel has been run like a charity for years.
Nihal: What are you trying to say?
Aydin: Well, when a chronic philanthropist, who has helped almost every school in the area, opposes this idea so firmly, I fail to understand.
Nihal: What is there to understand? It's a matter of urgency. There are primary school with leaky roofs and rotten windows, little kids studying with their gloves on. Isn't it more logical to solve those problems first? We've been collecting donations for this for a long time now. But it never attracted your attention. So I don't understand your sudden charity.
The trials and tribulations of the well-off: Who to help first? Suavi: You know all this poverty and hardship is like a natural disaster. In a sense, it's the will of God. You can't fight destiny.
Aydin: But God also gave us the intelligence to fight such things.
Suavi: That's true. However there are people specially created for those tasks. You should leave those tasks to them. You're a creative man, you are an artist. Why bother yourself with such things? Stick to your own work.
Again, there is a rationalization for any behavior.Aydin: Have you asked Ilyas why he did it?
Hamdi: Yes, of course, I asked him.
Aydin: And what did he say?
Hamdi: Well, Mr Aydin, the kid was upset by the bill collector, so he went and did a stupid thing. Especially seeing his father get beaten up.
Aydin: Beaten up?
Hamdi: When the debt collectors came, Ismail tried to stop them obviously. And the police were there. So things got out of hand.
Aydin: Now, Hamdi, listen...I've got various houses and shops in town. If I tried to look after all of them myself, I'd have no time to work on my books and articles. So I let Hidayet and the lawyers deal with the rents and the lawsuits. I often don't know what they are doing. And if they tell me, I tend to forget...I wasn't even aware you were my tenants. When the rent is not paid, lawyers do these things automatically.
The part embedded in Allah, the part embedded in Marx: To evict or not to evict Ismail. Of course Aydin punts it to Hidayet and "the lawyers". Seque then to this...Aydin [to Necla, reading from his column]: "In a country with a 99% Muslim population, don't people deserve men of God. Men who are cultivated, neat, whose very presence is reassuring? The weekly sermon is prepared by our imams and will be heard with pleasure and admiration and will elevate the people. Islam is a religion of civilization and high culture."
Necla: If we were to make this idea of not resisting evil the basis of our behavior, what kind of life would we have?
Aydin: What kind of life? Thieves, murderers, psychos would prosper. Chaos would reign everywhere.
Necla: What would be left then?
Aydin: Cripples and madhouses.
Necla: Maybe you're right. But I couldn't take the easy way out like you do.
For example by excluding the act of sending "debt collectors" out to beat up a tenant unable to pay the rent. No evil there to resist, right? To wit:Necla [at the dinner table]: Maybe we're fooling ourselves when we're fighting evil. As if we didn't want to look at every aspect, we hide some.
Nihal: It's easy to understand what Nacla is saying. She says if something bad is done to us, by not resisting, the evildoer may be sorry and give up.
Aydin: Is that possible?
Nihal: That's not the question. I'm just saying one could try.
Aydin: So the Jews should deport themselves so that Hitler doesn't get tired? He says, "Here they are, no point in gassing them"?
Nihal: You are joking?
Aydin: No, that is how I understand it. Help evildoers do evil so they stop doing evil. Never heard such nonsense before.
Necla: I wonder what would have happened if I had behaved differently with Nectet.
Nihal: You mean, if you hadn't resisted all the bad things he did, he would've finally felt ashamed?
Necla: Yes. Exactly. You put it well. I know it sounds absurd, but it isn't, believe me.
Nihal: I'm sorry, Necla, but I find that hard to believe. People don't change that much after a certain age. On the contrary, all their bad habits get even worse. So being silent in the face of evil does nothing but make the other feel even more justified.
Necla [more or less to herself]: Those petty, multiple-meaning, sarcastic words...and those little cynical lip movements. I realize how sick I am of it, how much I hate it.
Aydin: Maybe she reads my articles in secret.
Necla: I believe she does. She's an expert at criticizing by remaining silent.
Necla: In the old days, we admired you. We thought you'd do great things, become quite famous even. But it didn't happen.
Aydin. Hmm. The elephant gave birth to a mouse. Sorry to disappoint you.
Necla: It's obviously not your fault. It's us who set the bar too high.
Aydin: What about "Flowers of the Steppes"?
Necla: To be honest, that's the article that actually made me think like this.
Aydin: Really? In what way?
Necla: How can I put it? This soppy romanticism. This naive, unconvincing self-belief. Takes no risk, for one thing. It looks like the writer adopts positive values accepted by all, just to endear himself. Sometimes the disguise of lyricism makes it stink of sentimentality.
Aydin: But dear, you're not coming up with coherent, constructive criicism. Like your remarks are always hiding something. That's what's annoying. So I get to thinking it's me you hate, not the articles.
Aydin: Religion, morals, this and that. Nothing of your interest.
Necla [of Hamdi and Ismail]: Now I see. You found a victim and you're making the most of it. Stop harrassing the poor man.
Aydin: Necla, I'm losing my temper. What does it have to do with it?
Necla: I should ask what religion, faith, spirituality have to do with you? Have you ever set foot in a mosque? Have you ever prayed?
Necla [to Aydin but more to herself]: I wish my threshold of self-deception was as low as yours. Then I could easily find things worth doing and escape this boredom perhaps.
Necla [more to herself]: I can't believe how I left a place like Istanbul and agreed to come and live with you. My soul's withering here.
Aydin: I feel at home wherever my books are. I feel no need for another place. You must be able to create a world for yourself...you're bored because yoiu sit around doing nothing. Of course you're bored. We must work, have a passion.
Necla: It depends on your definition of "working". It doesn't mean running around pointlessly.
Necla: Nihal. She walks around like she was a guardian angel, but in reality, she doesn't do shit. Glaring at people with that contemptuous look.
Aydin: Are we both now guilty because you do nothing? Do something. Nobody's stopping you.
Necla [of Nihal]: Philanthropy isn't tossing a bone to a hungry dog, it's sharing when you are just as hungry.
Aydin: Look who's talking about realism. Dealing with art, struggling for people's spiritual development...it's "alchemy", you say.
Necla: No dear, what I am saying is this: If all you thinkers thought about solving the big problems all this trivia you fuss about now would solve itself in the process. If you go up in a balloon to see a town, you'll incidentally see the trees, rivers and meadows too. But no, you focus on one tiny spot. Lazy, cowardly, conservative. But no one has the courage to face the truth. If you're looking for something more real, you'll have to be destructive when necessary, dear Aydin. But since you're an actor, you forget about being real, being yourself. You jump from one personality to another, like a grasshopper.
Aydin: So, you want me to be realistic? Alright, listen, then. You're a person sentenced to loneliness and bordom for life. Because you're a coward, because you're lazy. You're used to living like a parasite expecting everyone to help you. You act as though the whole world owes you something....Thinking more important than action? Ha ha ha. There we go. The age old excuse of cowards and slackers.
wins these arguments. And yet to be human is to engage them. And that's more or less my point, isn't it?Aydin: I heard that you raised funds here last night.
Nihal: Yes, we did. So what?
Aydin: Why didn't you tell me?
Nihal: Did I have to?
Aydin: You didn't have to, but I would have appreciated it. I might have wanted to make a significant contribution.
Nihal: I don't think that is a good idea. We're doing fine on our own. We don't need you, thanks.
Aydin: Come on, one always needs more. After all, I'm a wealthy man.
Nihal: Nobody expects anything from you.
Aydin: From you neither, darling. Yet you created a huge committee in our house without me knowing. Didn't you?
Nihal: Aydin, listen to me please. We've lived in peace for two years, each to his own affairs. What's suddenly changed? Yesterday your aim was to humiliate me and my guests. Think I didn't notice?
Aydin: Me? Never even crossed my mind.
Aydin: Nihal, my darling. You haven't got tired of banging the same drum for years. As if I'm keeping you here by force. I've never stopped you, have I? Go whenever you like. Maybe you should. Try it. Find a job at the minimum wage. From 8 to 6. After work, you can go on saving the world, if you have energy left.
Nihal: I'll do it if necessary. Much better than wasting my life living like a parasite with an arrogant man like you. Thanks to you, I'm drifting in vain here. I'm sponging off you. I spend your money. But I pay for it with my freedom and my useless loyalty. Do you know how donating even a little of someone else's money feels?
Aydin: No, I don't. And why? Because I've worked like a dog all my life not to know.
Nobody ever wins these arguments either. But it helps to be the one with all the loot. Aydin [regarding the donations for the needy school]: Nihal, let's be reasonable. Don't you trust my experience, my honesty?
Nihal: I'm still not sure what you are after.
Aydin: What could I possibly be after? I'm just trying to prevent any problems for my family. I have a right, don't I?...Now, let me see the donations and your expenses.
The gap between the best of intentions and the rigors of the law. Aydin: You once told me that if I could change some of my behavior, you would forgive me completely. Remember? Which means for you I am guilty of something. Therefore, calmly and briefly, in terms I can understand, I ask you to tell me what I am guilty of. What have I done to you? Is it that you are young, beautiful and would like to live your own life? I'm much older than you and you hate me for that? Is that my guilt? I never forced you to marry me. I never restricted your freedom. You live as you wish, independently in your part of the house. You have even set up a huge committee here. If you want even more freedom, it's yours. No one's stopping you. I mean it. If you want a divorce, I won't stop you.
Nihal: I don't want anything like that. Of course I wanted to marry you. It's not that I'm young and you're old...or I could love someone else if I were free. I always felt that I was older than you anyway. But you are an unbearable man. You are selfish, spiteful, cynical. That's what you are guilty of.
Nihal: You're actually a well-educated, honest, fair and conscienctious man. Generally you are like that. I won't deny it. But you sometimes use those virtues to suffocate people, to crush and humiliate them. Your high principles make you hate the world. You hate believers, because for you, believing is a sign of underdevelopment and ignorance. But you also hate non-believers for their lack of faith or ideals. You dislike the old for being conservative bigots and not thinking freely. And you dislike the young for thinking freely and abandoning the traditions. You defend the virtues of community. But you suspect everyone of being a thief or a bandit.
Sounds like another rendition of my own dilemma.Nihal [to Aydin]: In the past, you stopped us splitting up, using various methods. I was too young to leave. I didn't have the courage or the money. Or anywhere better to go. But didn't you feel any remorse seeing a young, healthy, proud, lively woman wither away in emptiness, boredom and fear? In our first years, I felt fear. Now I feel ashamed.
Aydin: You wouldn't know, but people like me who grew up in villages with not even electricity, understand the joy and pleasure of being in a small, warm, cozy room like this, listening to my wife, even if she is screaming in my face how bad I am. Our youth was very dull, Nihal. We didn't know how to be happy. So we may not know how to make others happy. But as I said we had no bad intentions. We set out with good intentions, pure, innocent dreams. We wanted a better life and society.
Nihal: Sorry, but I don't believe you. I've heard it all before. You're not on stage anymore. We all start with good intentions. But as you said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So all this means nothing. All those fine words mean nothing to me now. When you start talking like this I feel you're pulling a trick to get your way. I have never understood what you really want from me. Even so, I'll ask you one more time. Whatever you call my activity, self-deception or feminine logic, leave me alone. Because that is my only consolation.
Aydin: Nihal, darling. You're a good-hearted, smart, rational, sensible woman. Everything you say and do is very reasonable. It really is. But not seeing a man for what he is, idolizing him like a god, and then being mad at him because he's not a god. Do you think that's fair? I wish I were the successful, charismatic actor you dreamed of. But I am not. I'm a simple man. And what's worse, I'd like to stay that way.
Aydin: I suggest you work with people who are conscientious, principled and have moral sense. One day, you'll understand better.
Nihal: Conscience. Morals. Ideals. Principles. The purpose of life. You're always saying those words. The words you always use to humiliate, hurt, or denigrate someone. But if you ask me, if someone uses these words this much, he's the one to suspect.
Aydin [to Levent]: Is it fair to accuse me just because we have a few bucks? Did I create this world? That's how the system is. This is how God created it. What can I do about it? Justice doesn't even exist in nature. So why should it exist here?
Levent: I would like to quote Shakespeare, by way of a conclusion. "Conscience is but a word that cowards use devised at first to keep the strong in awe.
[suddenly he slams his hand down on the table]
Levent: Our strong arms be our conscience, swords are laws."
Aydin [voiceover, looking up at Nihal]: Nihal, I didn't go away. I couldn't. Whether it's because I've grown old, or I've gone mad, or because I've become a different man, think what you'd like. I just don't know. But this new man inside me for a few days won't let me go away. Please don't ask me to do either. I now understand that nothing is calling me to Istanbul. Everything is alien to me there, as it is everywhere else. I want you to know that I have no one but you. And I miss you every minute, every second that goes by. But my pride will never let me tell you this. I know how terrible or impossible it would be to part from you. Just as I know that you do not love me anymore. I know we can't go back to the old days. And there is no need to. Take me with you like a servant, like a slave. And let us continue our life, even if we do it your way. Forgive me.
What we are not privy to are the thoughts of Nihal. Just a shot of Aydin sitting at his desk [as he always does] and then a shot of Nihal sitting forlornly alone in a room.