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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2012)



Average Rating: 8.2/10
Critic Reviews: 21
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 5,629

My Rating

Movie Info

In the dead of night, a group of men - including a police commissioner, a prosecutor, a doctor and a murder suspect - drive through the tenebrous Anatolian countryside, the serpentine roads and rolling hills lit only by the headlights of their cars. They are searching for a corpse, the victim of a brutal murder. The suspect, who claims he was drunk, can't remember where he buried the body. As the night draws on, details about the murder emerge and the investigators' own secrets and hypocrisies

Jun 26, 2012


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All Critics (72) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (66) | Rotten (5) | DVD (2)

Ceylan's own growing reputation will, I hope, continue to grow. He uses the realistic film as an avenue to what lies around and beyond the realism.

June 19, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It runs 157 minutes, and I can't say you don't feel them. You do - but in the way you would, reading a very good book in an uncomfortable chair.

May 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Comments (2)
Boston Globe
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A movie of such dark, smoldering intensity that it's easy to forget that half of it takes place in near darkness.

May 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
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A police procedural as existential inquiry, set in a remote dreamscape of mystery and foreboding.

April 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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Ceylan's visual style is less heightened, more down-to-earth than the more stylised 'Three Monkeys', but still some of the night-time scenes look like careful paintings, such is the precision of their lighting and composition.

March 14, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Ceylan doesn't slap us with big dramatic moments, but allows us to live along with his characters as things occur to them.

March 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
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Uma obra encantadora e hipnótica.

May 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

This is a very slow-moving movie, but it also has its attractions, such as its beautiful cinematography by Gökhan Tiryaki, particularly the wide angle shots showing the vastness of the Turkish landscape.

December 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

The literal "once upon a time" of a series of disillusioned men who no longer think about the future because they obsess over the past.

August 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

It's a masterpiece crime story that tells us as much about searching for the truth in modern Turkey as it does about violent criminals and those who prosecute them.

July 14, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

You can't expect a slow burn drama to payoff spectacularly unless it burns slowly, and this is precisely what Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan orchestrates in this masterful murder-mystery.

July 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Quickflix

It's a unique film that is best enjoyed knowing very little about it - so go and take a look

June 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Mesmerising cinema... This is a film that deserves your attention. It may be slow and the plot points obtuse, but the rewards are great

June 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a film that stays on the mind days after the credits role. While quiet in tone it is rich in character and atmosphere.

May 24, 2012 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

... while quiet in tone, is rich in its character studies...

May 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Nuri Bilge Ceylan uses a matter of life and death to look at the mundane, human nature, and the mystical effect of women on men in his sixth feature film, a masterpiece.

May 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

The pace is sometimes grindingly slow, and at more than two-and-a-half hours, Ceylan's exploration of its characters' shifting views on the truth can become wearying.

May 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune | Comment (1)
Salt Lake Tribune if a lush landscape painting is being invaded by the cinema.

April 9, 2012 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

With its wide-open setting and taciturn, macho characters, it's a film that earns the right to use the "Once Upon a Time" title that Sergio Leone made so perversely famous.

April 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Oregonian

The denouement offers a satisfactory conclusion to a drama that, in its scope, rigour and discipline, confirms Ceylan as a contemporary master.

March 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

Ceylan doesn't offer much in the way of resolution, but his oblique approach does cumulatively imply much about ripple effect the crime has on all those who come into contact with it.

March 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Scotsman

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's latest film, a thriller as challenging as Antonioni's Blow-Up, is his finest work to date.

March 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Audience Reviews for Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

This beautifully shot Turkish film puts a lot of responsibility on the viewer - it asks you to be patient and to find a point within seeming pointlessness. A simple (and arguably overlong) tale that seems to take place in rural Turkey but actually takes place solely within the psyches of its characters, audiences are asked to forget what they know about film narrative and find out more about human interactions and how people deal with the truth and accept that the truth may never be knowable.
October 11, 2013
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

Mysterious and beautiful. It really is a thing of beauty, every shot looks like an award winning photograph. The premise is simple but things are never quite what they seem, just when you think you can shout 'Stereotype' you'll find quite the opposite is true. I'm so glad Nuri Bilge Ceylan is back directing, his film Distant (or Uzak) is one of my favourites and really re-ignited my passion for film. This film deserves all the praise it gets.
July 16, 2012

Super Reviewer

to call this a police procedural or crime drama seems wrong but i don't know how else one would describe it in genre terms. it's gorgeous, mysterious and rewards patience
June 14, 2012
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia'. Slow burning, but oh-so-absorbing! A most beautiful look at the mundane that is life.

Every frame of that first hour and a bit is a painting waiting to be sold. Exquisite composition and cinematography, with many a long take emphasising the beauty of the rolling hills against the slow-moving people and cars.

Every take is a patient one. Life isn't quick cuts and dramatic reveals. We're forced [I mean it in the best possible way, but others will say it's in the worst] to experience the banality these men go through.

Clearly this is masterful screen-writing and direction, because I was leaning forward, on the edge of my seat the whole way through, while the sighs and fidgeting echoed around me.
June 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Commissar Naci: It's the kids who suffer in the end, doctor. Everyone pays for the things they do. But kids pay for the sins of adults.
    – Submitted by Ahmad M (2 years ago)
    1. Commissar Naci: You're not human.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (DE)
  • Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Bir zamanlar Anadolu'da) (UK)
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