The Story of an Oscar Nominee Movie

Written by Ebru Çavdar

Since the first breath of the human being, humans have been in the position of a narrator. While narration need is not in the Maslow’s hierarchy, it is as essential as nutrition. As a communication device, a means of relief, the basis of art, a form of belief, narration has been a continual habit for thousands of years and the basic living function of human beings.
While we don’t know when the first time a human performed a narration function, the first human, most probably, told the things he went through to another person, to nature, to his couple or to his God, at the end of the day. The existence of words is equal to the existence of narration. Narration has always confronted us in the holy scripts, myths, legends and the remnants of human belongings.
Telling and narrating skills have been spoken highly in every society, the ones having these skills have been defined differently from past to present. Prophets, poets, wizards, narrators of Manas, storytellers, speechmakers, politicians, comedians and so on…
The storytellers who record and bring the motions of human societies and all the things they do to future. They present all the values, written or unwritten codes and life rituals of the society to their followers as a fertile field. Thanks to these storytellers, stories travel the world and indicate how the issues are interpreted.
Today, even if there is no storyteller granny, public storyteller or Dede Qorqut who travels village to village and gives advices, there are some modern storytellers who aim to convey the stories that they hear, live, read or see, in different forms to another medium, by draining them from their filter. Indeed, each of them is an artist and they use different instruments of art. Because the cinema is the most novel, giddy and sonorous art of the era, today’s artists can tell their stories most effectively over the cinema. The channel of narration is no longer steppes, weddings or gatherings; it is the screen/curtain.
When Walter Benjamin says narration is an experiment, he asserts that story listeners go through that experiment which disappears with novel later and he argues that storytelling has already come to its end. However, cinema is an experiment itself, like novel. The mood of a cinephile who goes to a cinema, a viewer in front of the TV at his home, a young person who watches a movie on his computer is not the same before starting and after finishing the film. Each of them experiences the film and is involved in the story that the director tells. After the film, the cinephile by the article that he writes on his blog, the TV viewer next day by his conversation with his colleagues, the young person on his computer by the tweets he posts can transfer their experiment with others.

Cinema contains this storytelling issue in its genes through its own means as an autonomous art, and again by the motion and time blocks in its content transfers the story to the interlocutors of this art. It does this neither like novel nor like tale or like another art; it realizes this by its own perspective.
Today’s film makers are the most important narrators. The film makers who spread this narration issue best to the other side are very limited. Especially, in our recent cinematography, Nuri Bilge Ceylan is, too, one of that limited directors who achieve storytelling issue by staying inside cinematography. The director who took credits both in our country and in the world since the first films he made, by manifesting himself in another new field, he sets off a journey towards the Academy by being the Oscar Nomination Candidate of our country. After receiving the well-deserved awards in Cannes and many other international film festivals by many of his films, the director will go on to his adventure on a different course by his latest film The White Pear Tree. The White Pear Tree contested in Cannes this year, and created great influence in social media by being applauded for minutes after the screening. Many critiques has written about the film throughout the year and it has been talked about intensely. As another matter to write and speak, being the Oscar nomination candidate has made The White Pear Tree a current issue again.
As we have mentionedz at the beginning, storytelling is probably the most important foot of a trivet. Narration issue is managed by cinema today, this is also true, but this must be done by cinema, by the style that belongs to cinema.
By his film Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan has put both his narrating and cinematography together as a balanced way and has left an important artefact that is a genuine cinema product to cinema history. In his previous films and the next film, either storytelling issue or capturing images like a painting issue dominated. That’s why his other movies have been associated with novels or paintings. Although this looks as praise content, it was the summary of a failing situation. For cinema is cinema. Again in The White Pear Tree, storytelling aspect overweighs obviously, because each character at the film take up lengthy speeches to explain something. All of them tell their ideal stories in their lengthy monologues. In The White Pear Tree, a storyteller director is before us, but while doing this, he does this in the classical form which does not suit the art of cinematography properly, and then the film becomes “like a novel”.

The brave casting in the movie, which Nuri Bilge Ceylan did and managed this in his almost all films, and directing this cast, draw attention. From the opening scene, the film suggests that this will be a Nuri Bilge Ceylan movie in which new things will be experienced. Editing technique, color preferences and shots are not like the Ceylan films that we are used to. Actually, the director was novel and experimental in all his films. Nuri Bilge Ceylan cinematography causes an excitement in its audiences every time.
The White Pear Tree was an expected movie by the audiences both in our country and in the world. For the director, the story of the film consists of the basic questions and the problems: Father-son, center-rural, good-evil… In fact, these are from the main issues of humanity and they are the stories that have been narrated to the present in different forms and interpretations for ages. However, making this known and narrated story an art is the skill of the artist. The director creates the feeling that as if the first time we heard or viewed this.
As an Oscar candidate film, The White Pear Tree will draw attentions mainly with the experiments of the director in technical meaning. The chances of the film will increase because this “classical” storytelling issue will come close to the “classical” Hollywood cinema. After all, being universal of the basic issues of the film that we have mentioned above will come close to the Academy members, as well.

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Ebru Çavdar

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