Our Grand Loneliness Reflected On The Screen On Films

in 30th Istanbul International Film Festival

by Murat Ersahin

Loneliness, deprivation, despair, entrapment, hopelessness, exhaustion, daily life that brings us to the end of our tether, in other words “the end of the world, the last act”… These concepts are amongst those we frequently encounter at the 30th Istanbul Film Festival. Let’s look at three different films revolving around these issues…

“Our Grand Despair” (Bizim Büyük Çaresizligimiz)

Based on the 2004 novel of the same title by author Baris Biçakçi, born 1966, the film is directed by Seyfi Teoman. The story of Ender and Çetin, two middle aged men eating away their 30s. A story of friendship, it is the soul map of two friends trying to seem different from who they actually are, unaware of their purpose in the “all knowing” Ankara, a reserved city of friendship, solidarity and simplicity. Perhaps the story of some people living in this geography, it is about two middle-aged men and Nihal, a young girl entrusted to their care. It encompasses the inevitable feelings of love, the drowning of self-control, responsibilities gnawing away life, storms breaking out within, a natural cycle and an inevitable final; big kids enveloped in solitude. It is a central Anatolian narration of a story to be continued forever in the same way: Gölbasi, Seymenler Parki, Atatürk Orman Çiftligi, Kizilay, Ayranci, Bahçelievler, Dikmen, Kavaklidere, Arjantin and Iran Avenues, Farabi, Faculty of Political Sciences; green beans, the smell of roasted onions pervading through the rooms, kitchen, living room, study; entrustment, anger, love and years go by. Literal meanings of hopelessness and despair. A true love story told over an unlived romance. Beauty, values and moments shared. Being side-by-side since high school and a lifelong togetherness. Undefined words of tenderness, an untitled attachment, raw love… In the final analysis, not of being together but the vital significance of staying together. The mediocre warmth of values at hand in contrast to moments missed, passed by. The static habits of civil servants’ children… A sense of melancholy for things never lived whilst walking towards Tunus station. The hard to explain harmony of cheese and strawberry jam. Illustrating the frets of life… it’s a piece that narrates without redundancy, shows without showing off; letting you feel without exploitation. And it is melancholic with a vengeance; a knife to the heart, a kill without blood…

“Another Year”

Mike Leigh, a master as we know… It might be necessary to say that this film is amongst his best works. It is a story of family, close friends and companionship over the course of the four seasons on an average year. The bold Englishman speaks of loneliness, deprivation and ageing. A birth followed by a death, isolation with no exit, the vital importance of being together, responsibilities, necessities, obligations that cannot be ditched, and beyond all, the humane side of those obligations. The feeling of ‘people closest to us being on the other side of the world’… Our ragged loneliness that we can’t shake off. Lives that missed the boat, so impossible to repair, occurrences and ultimate disengagements… That final look. The moment that a desperate woman and man come eye to eye. That “what lies beneath” gaze … With Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville in leading roles and a stunning team of actors. The challenging simplicity of the screenplay develops an analysis and diagnosis with no judgment. Without ignoring a class-oriented view, “Another Year” is an utterly honest, straightforward film on human nature. And this gives it its strength.

“The Turin Horse” (A torinói ló)

“Everything ended. The God is gone; you are all alone from now on” says auteur Béla Tarr adamantly, and adds that this would be his last film. The actors of the film are absolutely splendid: the farmer played by János Derzsi, his daughter by Erika Bók and the horse Ricsi. Besides, the film itself is absolutely splendid. It’s 100% cinema on the screen. The expert Hungarian filmmaker Tarr praises the German thinker Friedrich Nietzsche, who opposed his era. The Turin Horse is, in a sense, the tragedy of humans remaining all alone and unprotected on earth following God’s death. Another reading of the film would be “therefore humans must dedicate themselves to earth and labour and never lose hope”. What are the things that make life bearable? In order to survive, one should stand relentlessly and wait with patience where it is hard and difficult to endure. To succeed it is necessary to have a different consciousness. A consciousness beyond all difficulties. The director does not imply a way out. He believes in the capability of man, just like Nietzsche. In fact, the film stands against a nihilistic approach even though all action is in vain in the last stage of the drifting world. Perhaps in the final analysis it just embodies a waiting for death amidst a certain and dense darkness… The ravishing black and white camerawork of cinematographer Fred Kelemen and the theme music of Tarr’s favourite composer Mihály Vig render this 146-minute render the film into poetry on screen.