The Lay of the Land: Geography in ‘Melancholia,’ ‘The Descendants,’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’

A little while into Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Turkey’s entry for last year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar, the small police caravan stops at what the murderer thinks is the location of his victim’s buried body. It’s very late, maybe two o’clock in the morning. The murderer and a few of the police officers walk down the hill by the road and disappear into the night. The rest of the group stays by the cars. They talk some, then the doctor walks off to relieve himself. He wanders over a hill or two and comes to a little valley next to some rocks sticking out of the hillside. I think it’s also raining, or threatening to. He starts his business and after a few seconds of stillness there’s a flash of lightning, revealing the distinct shape of a face in the rocks next to him—a face made of the rocks. The doctor starts, or maybe I remember that because I did. In a movie built on moments of quiet resonance, this was the one that stuck with me.

Image 1. The face in the rocks, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

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