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The "Wild Pear Tree" And "Distant"

Audrey Kupferberg inspects a film
Audrey inspects a film

The Wild Pear Tree is a Turkish film from Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Since the 1990s, Ceylan has been making internationally recognized films.

The main character in The Wild Pear Tree is Sinan, a young man recently graduated from college who returns to his family. He is about to take his exams to be certified as a teacher.

His mother and sister seemingly spend most of their time watching soap operas on TV in their modest home. They mainly are secondary characters.

The father is the other character who holds the attention of the viewer. He is a teacher in the primary school. A gentle-mannered soul, at one time he may have been a good teacher and a worthy human being. Now he is a disappointment in the classroom and in his life. He is a gambler, an addict who has lost all his earnings, put his family into poverty and debt, and borrowed from so many folks in their village that the family lives in shame.

Sinan, the son, is a good-looking guy (like his father) who has a talent for writing and has completed a book that he wants to publish. He should be looking forward to great success. However, as we spend time with Sinan -- and he is on-screen for much of the film’s three-plus hours, it becomes apparent that he has habits that will go against his life’s fulfillment. His personality is edgy and negative, and he becomes bad-tempered easily. Instead of impressing those who can further his ambitions, he turns influential people away.

Is Sinan so damaged by his father’s failures that he inadvertently will become a failure himself? Ceylan appears to be dealing with that theme -- the father’s failures being passed along to the son.

Aside from the plot of The Wild Pear Tree, which is carried out through skillfully-written monologs and dialogs, great visual art is present in the film. The outdoor scenes, in contrast to the gloomy humble home of the family, are elegant mood enhancers in terms of nature and its colors.

The Wild Pear Tree is co-written by Ebru Ceylan, the director’s wife, and Akin Aksu. This trio also wrote Kuru Otlar Ustune, currently in production, which tells the woeful story of a young teacher in a Turkish village.

Back in 2002, Ceylan’s feature Uzak travelled through the international film circuit and won many awards, becoming what is apparently the Turkish film with the most accolades to date. Uzak is available in the U.S. under the title Distant.

Distant tells a story of two men, cousins. Each has a problem. One is a middle-aged successful photographer in Istanbul who has made mistakes in his personal life. He is divorced from a woman he continues to love, but she has moved on. The other man of the story is a young guy who has lost his factory job in their small hometown. Inflation in Turkey at that time caused many to be unemployed. He arrives to share his cousin’s house in the big city for a short period as he attempts to find a job as steward on a ship. This rather simple premise becomes a deeply involving drama of personalities.

Ceylan and his films continue to win awards and offer viewers artful qualities and well-considered themes worthy of the viewers’ analysis. These films are available on DVD and for streaming.

Audrey Kupferberg is a film and video archivist and appraiser. She is lecturer emeritus and the former director of Film Studies at the University at Albany and co-authored several entertainment biographies with her late husband and creative partner, Rob Edelman.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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