Distant (Uzak) ~ (Turkey, 2002) ~ Netflix

This completes the viewing of Nuri Bilge Ceylan films (4) that are available. Distant from 2002) is an interesting one in that it was mentioned in a book I recently read: Zona: A Book About A Film About A Journey To A Room by Geoff Dyer. As a group of men are sitting around a table discussing photography, the name Tarkovsky comes up:

“You used to be then you’d make films like Tarkovsky”

“So why are y0u trying to forget those days?”

“Photography is finished.”

The film starts with the familiar longshot as a man trudges toward the camera over a frozen lake. The signature dog barking is the only sound other than the crunching of his footsteps, and an owl hooting. Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a director that likes to make sure you’re settled in before he really starts.

The man trudging through the lightly falling snow (Yusuf) is a relative the man whose house he’ll be staying at in Istanbul (Mahmut), as he looks for work. This plan does not go well, and Yuusuf quickly gives up, hanging around aimlessly until Mahmout loses patience with him.

There is another Tarkovsky reference when Mahmout is watching Stalker with his nephew. His nephew is obviously bored and opts to turn in. As soon as he is out of the room, Mahmout slips a porno DVD into the dvr. It seems he has quite a collection, and he has shown his ‘cultured’ face to his nephew. Now it’s time to whack one off!

Mahmut is an industrial photographer who works for a tile factory. In his spare time he takes “serious” photographs. The arrival of Yusuf is an invasion of his space with which he grows increasingly irritated as the stay progresses.  Mahmout is a man set in his ways and his routine has been upset. His complaints are petty, yet one can easily understand them.

Mahmout is dealing with his own personal crisis in the form of his ex-wife who has decided to leave Istanbul with her new husband. There seems to still be a connection between Mahmout and his former wife. He follows her to the airport and she thinks she sees him, but is not sure. Did she want him to come after her? The deepest  and truest desires of people are unknown, perhaps even to themselves.

We are all ultimately ‘distant’ from one another. How are we to know the heart of another if we don’t know our own first?

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