Winter Sleep DVD Review

DVD Review by Jon E Clist
Winter Sleep

The Premise
Aydin, a former actor, runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal with whom he has a stormy relationship and his sister Necla who is suffering from her recent divorce. In winter as the snow begins to fall, the hotel turns into a shelter but also an inescapable place that fuels their animosities...

The Review
Okay so first things first, this is a long film and when I say long film I mean Lord of The Rings Extended Version long film. Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan revealed that he had more than 200 hours of material and his original cut was 4 hours 30 minutes. He then "worked hard" to make it down to 3 hours 15 minutes. However even with its long duration this is a film that has garnered plenty of praise out there. It is the longest film ever to win the Palme d'or.

Of course that doesn’t mean that this film is for everyone. With its duration, subtitles and scenes of animal cruelty there is quite the specific type of audience who will enjoy this film. If you are into blockbusters and high action films or romantic comedies, please give this a miss. Of course after watching the trailer I can’t imagine many non-target market will give this film a go. Having said that, for those who enjoy a well-paced slow burner with plenty of dramatic tension and well written characters this is a treat.

Winter Sleep was inspired by the short stories of Chekhov, as well as works by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Voltaire and was loosely based on two short stories of Anton Chekov; 'The Wife' and 'Excellent People'.

I hunted around to find some good one liner quotes about the film to help put into words what I thought of the film and it was interesting to hear what the critics thought of it. At Rotten Tomatoes it is one of the few films where the Critics percentage and the audience percentage is the same, both sit at 85% which is a very solid score. Here are a couple of the short quotes about the film.

“Probably the finest (and paradoxically, least faithful) Chekhov adaptation on film.” –Michael Phillips Chicago Tribune

“Winter Sleep crackles like a hearth fire-it's a slow but incandescent burn. – Joe McGovern Entertainment Weekly

“My favorite movie of 2014 is three hours long, and it's about Turkish people who live in caves. – Ella Taylor NPR


The Verdict
Despite its long duration, the intensity of the film certainly keeps drawing you into the story and it certainly is an interesting study on people and how being in close confinement with each other can have a detrimental effect. However be warned that there are scenes in it that involve animal cruelty that could disturb some viewers.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 8th January 2015
Rating: M – Contains Offensive language & content that may disturb
Duration: 196 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Haluk Bilginer, Melisa Sözen, Demet Akbag
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Distant, Three Monkeys)

The Extras
Lead actor Haluk Bilginer rejected the role for three times because of his theatre schedule. Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan insisted and filming planned according to Haluk Bilginer.

Winter Sleep's winning of the Palme d'Or at Cannes coincides with the centenary of Turkish Cinema.

The poster of the film is inspired by I. Glazunov painting which was painted for Dostoyevsky's first novel 'Netochka Nezvanova'. Relevant painting can be seen in Nihal's room.

This is the second - the first being Yol (1982) - Turkish film to win the Palme d'Or.

The protagonist's name, Aydin, means intellectual in Turkish.

Turkish director Ceylan is being sued for alleged animal cruelty as one of the horses was tortured during capture. The Law for the Protection of Animals in Turkey stipulates various fines for those who commit animal cruelty. A draft code that was submitted to the Turkish Parliament this month calls for jail time for those who abuse animals.

Official submission of Turkey to the best foreign language film category of the 87th Academy Awards 2015.

The screenplay is 285 pages long.


The screenplay took 6 months to write.