About Dry Grasses

About Dry Grasses
About Dry Grasses
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A film director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has been one of the biggest forces in Turkish cinema over the last few decades. In 2008, the Istanbul-born director became famous with his movie Three Monkeys when he was awarded Best Director at Cannes Film Festival. A couple of years later, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia bagged him Grand Prix at Cannes by which he remained one of contemporary international cinema’s foremost lights throughout. He has come back this year 2023 with his new film: About Dry Grasses. It is an epic story that spans three and a half hours; it certainly provides all the verisimilitude required of such films as this as it fully immerses you in its long duration.

This movie first premiered at the Cannes Film festival, where Merve Dizdar who led actor became Turkey’s maiden Best Actress award winner. Since then, it has been nominated to be Turkey’s entry for Academy Awards and perhaps making it into the long list might be an uphill task but things are getting hot there. After premiering at Cannes Film Festivals since then About Dry Grasses is released in Turkey and moves through various international festivals like Chicago and New York.

In this movie, Deniz Celiloglu acts as Samet who is disenchanted art teacher working in rural Turkey. The movie follows his egoism and how he enters into a relationship with one student of his called Sevim.Somewhere along the way, He becomes closer to his roommate/coworker accused alongside him for sexually assaulting students and they become friends with a woman colleague who lost her leg after surviving terrorist explosion.

The protagonist of this epic story is Samet; an art teacher working in rural Turkey. He used to teach in Istanbul but now works here after being transferred from there by authorities. He totally detests this area and looking around us one can easily see why there is not much in this place. Camera cranes to the sky of a town where it’s always snowing and at times people get inside their homes because of the heavy snowfall. Samet, however, seems to have a soft spot for a young girl in one of his classes named Sevim and other students have noticed that she is given preferential treatment.

Everything starts changing when there was a mandatory bag check which revealed an undisclosed love letter from Sevim’s bag. The teacher went into the faculty room and picked up the note leaving it on his desk. When Sevim came requesting for her letter back, Samet said no and lied saying that he had torn up the letter so that it could not be found again. Even after she began crying out loud in tears, Samet still does not give her back the letter; hence, one of them must have been: “Sevim first claimed him and Kenan” her friend Aylin reported both Samet and his roommate coworker who were accused as having relationships with female students.

Kenan and Semat are let off the hook without any investigation, but this actually builds a deeper friendship between them. In the process, they meet Nuray, a woman who teaches in a nearby village and together they form a trio for a while. Kenan is deeply interested in Nuray more than Samet does according to him as it has been assumed that they are having potential romantic relationship. One day Samet sees Nuray getting into Kenan’s car meaning the two may be doing something behind his back. This is what makes Samet act later on in the film even when there is an odd moment where he walks past all the crew and out of set towards lavatory.

In interim, they continue to meet as three people whereas when Samet caught wind from one of his colleagues that mainly accused Kenan were two students by then he begins to think that perhaps Kenan had been lying about himself for all this time. Henceforth starts the driving force for the rest of the movie since Samet will now have to deal with what happened while girls were still at school, how they continued trying reporting him, what caused his wrathful outbreak against his class or who was growing fond of Nuray due to his dissatisfaction with Kenan.

For example Turkish cinema has come into its own over recent years just like other national and regional cinemas have their own language and way of working. Essentially About Dry Grasses is very much a Turkish film right down to its filmmaking style and even its dialogue itself. Some monologues in certain scenes can feel like poetry where connections are made between human spirit, egotism as well as everyday objects we commonly pass by without knowing their names. Among other striking monologues featured in this film there is one voiceover which comes up during its last moments when Samet prepares himself for another journey outside the world where he has stayed for quite some time.

Though snowy landscapes might seem oppressive to Samet and the other characters this has been shot so beautifully that it shows how minute this village is in relation to their numerous problems. For instance, as a person Samet is extremely selfish who only thinks of himself for half of his time hence making the film quite unbearable because he pours out such language and also terrible words to people who don’t deserve them. There is an implication that even Sevim’s love letter could be for him and when she starts resisting his little games it inadvertently provokes more anger in Samet.

But all the same, films of this nature such as About Dry Grasses tend to make these types of people human. And after a long talk with Nuray during which they had dinner together, we are allowed in on the inside story of these two characters and their perception about other humans as well as life in general. Ceylan places emphasis on Samet’s belief that there should be societal order through juxtaposing it with images, people presented and spoken language indicating subtle hints at what could be political or religious conflict within the area; he does so by representing both urban and rural livelihoods.

The agrarian way of life is looked down upon by persons like Samet thus his dislike for everything connected to town he was sent to.

Sevim has somehow managed to completely detach herself from him. In terms of masculinity encoded into DNA of the movie, Samet represents something evil regarding patriarchy and power relations. He talks with an under-aged girl who is his student in friendly manner. His students even tell him that he favors Sevim and her friends more than them implying that it is no secret.

Therefore, one might get away with it. When confronted by school district superintendent Kenan about the report, he tries to smooth talk himself out of trouble while we see him interrupting Nuray every time she tries engaging him conversationally before making a move on her. This isn’t a protagonist that’s meant to be liked in the long run, and even towards the end of the film, he admits that he isn’t the definition of someone the village people will keep in touch with On several occasions when having emotional meltdowns with his students, outrightly says terrible things about a person such as he who deep down is indulging in self-pity whereby making others bear his anguish.

At over 200 minutes long About Dry Grasses has some its best moments disclosed by script itself as it comes crashing unto conclusion line. Finally, towards the end of the film, all poetry and narrative merge in a beautiful way, which is however a quite exhausting journey to this point. It is a movie that demands deep thought, and every actor in it is giving their best. No one else would have made a film like this one except Ceylan who does so ably as an experienced filmmaker.

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