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Interview - Nuri Bilge Ceylan

The changing man

Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Nuri Bilge Ceylan the great Turkish filmmaker of Uzak and now Climates speaks about marital discord and the movies.

‘I was on holiday with my wife Ebru, and we were discussing ideas over lunch for a film about a marriage. We went to the beach and did some test shots with ourselves playing the parts of a husband and wife. I liked our performances so much in these tests that I decided that we should take the lead roles, and I went away and wrote the Climates script for the two of us.

‘Ebru didn’t need much persuading to be in the film. She knows the kind of minimalist acting that I prefer. I’d tell her the general guidelines - “Don’t act big, keep things small!” - and that was enough for her. People in Turkey were surprised that I wanted to direct and act at the same time, but I thought “why not?” And I decided that I would act the part of Isa by relying on my intuition.

‘Climates is the first film on which I’ve used a director of photography, because I usually operate the camera myself. Now I think it’s better to work with a cinematographer, because as the director I can use the monitor to concentrate on the acting and the framing. And this was also the first time that I’d used digital video. I really like the sharpness of the images you can get from high-definition cameras. Celluloid is like vinyl: after several showings there are already scratches. You can try out far more things on digital, and the editing is more creative. I shot seven times more footage for Climates than I did for my last feature Uzak.

‘With Isa, I wanted to show the weak side of man. To me, though, women are more stable emotionally and more content than men. In my films the landscapes connect the characters to a sense of something cosmic. I try to recapture those moments in life where you suddenly feel that connection to a wider universe. Sound too is very important to the way I create a particular atmosphere, more so than music. The sound, for instance, of dogs barking in the distance at night creates lots of feelings for the viewer. Of course our ears are very selective - we don’t hear everything. That’s why in the post-production process I add whatever I want to the sound mix.’

See review of Climates.


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