‘Turkish intellectuals illiterate in knowing,' acclaimed director Ceylan says

‘Turkish intellectuals illiterate in knowing,' acclaimed director Ceylan says

Cansu Çamlıbel CANNES / Hürriyet
‘Turkish intellectuals illiterate in knowing, acclaimed director Ceylan says

Acclaimed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is seen at a news conference for the film ‘Winter Sleep,’ in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. REUTERS photo

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest film, “Kış Uykusu” (Winter Sleep), lasting three hours and 16 minutes, is one of the favorites for the Palme d’Or at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. The film does not aim to have a political message, but most people are wondering whether the acclaimed director is trying to say something political with the film.

While making "Winter Sleep," Ceylan said he was not thinking about focusing on certain political events or social problems, but wanted these issues to seep through from the background.

“I don’t want the main idea of my film to be completely understood. Rather than to clarify a complicated issue, I like to confuse the issue. Even if there is a political message, I prefer it to be hidden. But of course there may be a social background or metaphors that can be described as political in my films. This is generally the background to make a film realistic. I think that I make films on ambiguous issues that even I hardly understand,” he said.

‘Turkish intellectual’

Ceylan added that he was inspired by certain people, including himself, while creating the “Turkish intellectual” typology in the film.  He said this could not be described as "criticism," but he could not stop referring to some of these people’s characteristics.

“I can’t say that what we call the Turkish intellectual is a homogenous thing that can be generalized on. But if I speak about some of these characteristics in the film, even though they have improved intuition and know a lot about other people, they are surprisingly illiterate in knowing themselves," Ceylan said. 

"They have very advanced skills in deceiving themselves when something is not bearable anymore, and have tended to embellish almost everything they do with some virtues. If half the energy spent protecting ourselves was spent knowing ourselves and face the truth when necessary, more burdens would be off our hands,” he added. 

These issues of deception are included in the film, Ceylan said. “Three characters, who know each other very well, get angry at each other for deceiving themselves and try to spoil the game to prevent themselves from being deceived. Necla can’t stand that Aydın deceives her and always feel like telling it to his face. But at the same time, she tries to rationalize her desire to return to her husband by turning to a particular philosophy,” he added.