Regarding “Dry Grasses” Review: The Hopeless Feeling

By Gita Samanta Mar15,2024
Regarding "Dry Grasses" Review: The Hopeless FeelingRegarding "Dry Grasses" Review: The Hopeless Feeling

The question of whether the world can change and if we can change with it is posed in the master director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s most recent intimate epic.

The artist is faced with two options. First, by empathy—that is, by deeply connecting with the world and interpreting it so that others might see the world through the eyes of the artist. The other is detachment, which is viewing everything from a distance and standing separate from everyone and everything.

The protagonist in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “About Dry Grasses,” Samet (Deniz Celiloglu), belongs to the second type of artist, and it hasn’t been good for his soul. After serving four years in East Anatolia’s public schools as an art instructor required by law, he is tired of the people there and believes they are primarily a waste of time. However, he isn’t very nice to anyone, even Kenan (Musab Ekici), his flatmate and colleague teacher, who seems to enjoy both his job and living there. Samet is in need of a transfer to Istanbul because she is miserable.

Sevim (Ece Bagci), a bright-eyed eighth grader who is likely infatuated with her instructor, is Samet’s teacher’s pet and the only source of happiness, or at least diversion, in his life. Their exchanges are not limited by boundaries. However, they behave as though they are classmates, Samet gives her a token present, and even the other students have noticed that he exclusively talks to Sevim and her pals during class. For this reason, when Samet learns that two students have accused him and Kenan of having improper contact with kids, he is deeply shocked and offended. He is ashamed and furious since he can guess who those two are.

From this point on, the plot thickens and Samet’s discontent grows. The current undisputed master of Turkish cinema, Ceylan, enjoys throwing a disoriented scholar into a perplexing scenario and watching him struggle, but his camera is never still, pausing for extended periods of time on the same frame and frequently contrasting the outside world with a character’s inner life. The scenery is wintry here. Everybody is always stumbling through the snow, and the never-ending whiteness highlights specific faces and forms.

Since Samet is an artist, he can see the potential for a fantastic image. Ceylan intersperses beautiful still photos of the locals, probably taken by Samet, throughout the movie, raising the possibility that he may actually be interested in their lives. But he does a good job of hiding his curiosity. Samet, along with his dominance, is the centre of his universe. (He resembles the misanthropic writer in Christian Petzold’s “Afire” in that he uses other people’s annoyances to justify his belief that his life is more meaningful than theirs.)

A portrait can be a snapshot of a person’s essence, or it might just be a composition that fixes a subject in a setting. Even Nevertheless, Samet’s portraits are of the latter type. One day, he promises his students that they would study portraiture, but when they object, he just tells them to sketch what they already know, as if they are incapable of knowing anyone at all.

Perhaps this explains why Samet first shows little interest in her when they go on a blind date and meet another local teacher named Nuray (Merve Dizdar). She is the complete antithesis of Samet—she is intelligent, fiery, and beautiful—having lost a limb as a result of her activism, but Samet lacks the will to be passionate about politics. He finds her boring since all he sees is her missing leg. Only when they click does Kenan decide to adjust his mind—not so much to denigrate his friend as to get to know Nuray.

It seems as though Ceylan is self-referential or perhaps self-inquisitive in his portrait of an artist. (He co-wrote the script with Akin Aksu and his wife Ebru Ceylan, with whom he collaborated frequently; Aksu’s journals from his three-year mandatory teaching assignment in Anatolia serve as some of the story’s inspiration.)

Like Samet, Ceylan is a photographer in addition to being a filmmaker. His videos frequently serve as unique forms of portraiture. Their length compels the viewer to delve into the inner lives of his characters and cease viewing them as mere props in a narrative. They are lengthy and drawn out.

The actors and the audience are both unexpectedly taken out of the framework of what we have been watching in a single, shocking moment. All of a sudden, Samet appears to be a performer for everyone; rather than experiencing his narrative, he is narrating it.

Ceylan poses a crucial query to both the audience and himself in “About Dry Grasses”: What does it mean to be involved in the world? And is it cowardice, superiority, or self-defense if you sit back and observe instead of taking part?

Although “About Dry Grasses” runs for almost three and a half hours, the duration seems appropriate. Because Samet never truly changes, it has the warp and woof of an epic in microcosm, one that feels both strangely anti-literary yet literary at the same time.

Neither does the scenery. An far more important question, and one that Ceylan has little interest in resolving, is whether or not the world can change. Rather, he is putting two routes in front of us and himself.

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *