• July 16, 2024

Unveiling the Layers: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “On Dry Grass” explores the boundaries of reality in cinema

 Unveiling the Layers: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “On Dry Grass” explores the boundaries of reality in cinema

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest film, “On Dry Grass” (Kuru Otlar Üstüne), takes audiences on a thought-provoking journey through the intricate layers of storytelling and cinematic innovation. In this captivating piece of cinema, Ceylan delves into the realms of reality and fiction, challenging our perceptions of narrative and character development.

Breaking New Ground in Ceylan’s Cinema

“On Dry Grass” presents a formal innovation that stands out in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s illustrious career. While the film revolves around the life of Samet, a teacher in Eastern Anatolia with dreams of escaping to Istanbul, it introduces a surreal twist that is unprecedented in Ceylan’s filmography.

Behind the Scenes: A Brechtian Twist

A pivotal scene towards the film’s conclusion unravels a surprising Brechtian element. Samet’s character, played by Deniz Celiloğlu, takes a brief hiatus from the narrative to step behind the scenes of a different movie set titled “On Dry Herbs.” This unexpected detour into the realm of filmmaking adds an entirely new dimension to the story. Samet’s journey becomes a reflection of the duality between fiction and reality within the cinematic world.

A Role within a Role

Imagine if, in a twist of narrative, “On Dry Herbs” were the real story, and everything we witnessed in “On Dry Grass” was merely a performance within that film. This perspective opens a window into a different interpretation of the movie’s themes and characters.

Samet’s Struggle for Escape

Samet, an art teacher seeking an escape from the confines of his small town life, undergoes a transformation throughout the film. His interactions with the townsfolk are marked by a sense of detachment and objectification. Samet’s only solace is in pursuing relationships with his students, particularly Sevim, as they provide an escape from his stifling reality.

Nuray: A Complex Character

The film introduces Nuray, a teacher who has endured the loss of a leg due to a bomb attack. She represents a stark departure from Ceylan’s usual characters. Nuray emerges as a fiercely political and critical character, questioning Samet’s apolitical stance and the meaninglessness of his life. The contrast between Nuray and Sevim, who remains silent and passive, highlights the thematic complexity of the film.

The Brechtian Element of Realization

Traditionally associated with Brechtian alienation, the scene featuring Samet’s departure from the narrative can also be viewed as an “element of realization.” In this interpretation, Samet’s brief departure from the story symbolizes a moment of awakening or confrontation with reality. His escape from the filmic space serves as a response to Nuray’s challenge to his masculinity.

Baudrillard’s Influence

French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s concept of porn films as simulative universes comes to mind. In these films, male actors momentarily step out of the frame, returning as confident performers. Samet’s journey in “On Dry Grass” parallels this concept. His escape into reality with the “erection pill” serves as a return to the authenticity of life.

Feyyaz’s Departure

Another character, Feyyaz, portrayed by Münir Can Cindoruk, takes a similar path of departure. Feyyaz, a revolutionary figure, leaves the narrative despite all attempts to keep him within the story’s confines. His exit reflects a desire to engage with reality beyond the film’s constructed world.

Ceylan’s Aesthetic and Realism

Throughout the film, Nuri Bilge Ceylan juxtaposes the aesthetic and the real. The town of İncesu, captured through Ceylan’s lens, is portrayed as both visually captivating and static, mirroring the protagonist’s sense of entrapment. Moments of punctum disrupt this aesthetic, providing glimpses into Ceylan’s photographs and a deeper engagement with reality.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “On Dry Grass” is a cinematic masterpiece that invites viewers to explore the intricate interplay between reality and fiction. Through its Brechtian elements and complex characters, the film challenges conventional storytelling and offers a unique perspective on the human condition. Ceylan’s exploration of the boundaries of cinema leaves audiences with a profound sense of contemplation, sparking discussions that delve into the essence of storytelling itself.