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Distant (2002) at UW Cinematheque
October 21, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree
Mahmut (Muzaffer Özdemir) sits alone on a bench by the water amidst the desolate, wintry landscape of modern Istanbul, while contemplating the Void of existence.
Excerpt from Jason Fuhrman’s review:
Distant (2002) unfolds in a seamless succession of long takes that throws into sharp relief the immense divide between the two individuals. However, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s film also highlights the purposelessness and vacuity of Mahmut and Yusuf’s respective lives. Although they are polar opposites in many ways, the two men share an inability to communicate their feelings, the absence of any fulfillment in personal and professional pursuits, and a deep-seated sense of existential futility.
With its elliptical narrative, psychological acuity, realistic performances, and rigorous, stunning compositions, Distant masterfully evokes the difficulty of forming meaningful connections in an increasingly alienating modern world. In Cahiers Du Cinéma, Ceylan states: “My first intention was to make a film on the emptiness of life, the sensation of the void and uselessness.” While the prospect of watching such a movie might seem bleak and depressing, the power of Distant derives from the auteur’s exceptional ability to absorb viewers in the fine details of everyday life.
Distant should be seen in a movie theater to truly appreciate the subtle impact of its pure visual poetry and immersive sound design. Ceylan uses a deceptively simple premise to craft a vividly atmospheric, richly textured, and mesmerizing meditation on the human condition. His portrait reveals unexpected depth in existential emptiness, fleeting beauty in the spiritual wasteland of advanced industrial society, and elusive, ineffable truths in the spaces between human beings.
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