Honey – Original title: Bal (2010)
Directed by: Semih Kaplanoğlu
Winner of the Golden Berlin Bear Prize 2010.
Here we have a movie from Turkey. As some of you might have noticed, I enjoy looking for unknown gems from “exotic” cinema, but Turkey WAS an exception. All the Turkish movies I watched were the “Z” ones such as “Badi” (the Turkish version for ET), “Duniayi Kurtaran Adam” (their Star Wars) and “Turist Omer Uzay Yolunga” (this movie was “based” on Star Trek), so you can realize that, after watching the mentioned films, I didn’t look for other titles (yes, I had already realized that those were terrible movies, but not THAT terrible – I do enjoy watching low budget movies from time to time).
Well, I was wrong. I missed a lot of great movies that come originally from this very interesting historical nation. Now, to redeem myself, I’m trying to watch them all. It is impossible, but I want to watch, at least, the classical as well as the new releases. So, after being able to see “Egg” and “Milk” (the first Yusuf trilogy installments), I finally watched “Bal”. I have to say that this is one those movies that leaves you thinking about it for hours and maybe even days.
The scenery is fantastic, beautiful and breathtaking. You can only imagine yourself there, calmly admiring the alluring landscapes (if you live in a similar region I envy you, as I live in a concrete big city) and not thinking about all the troubles we have ;-). I read an IMDB reviewer stating that “watching Bal is like viewing a Discovery Channel documentary in that the movies presents lots of scenes of both natural and man-made surroundings”. I couldn’t agree more concerning this description. The acting is also another plus as all of the actors were indeed impressive (I’ve read a few complains about the actors not having a Black Sea region accent, but for non natives this should not be a matter at all).
I believe that Munira Zeyneb splendidly summarizes: “Bal is a spectacular film. It’s not a film meant for festival audience. It’s not a film promoting some highly intellectual ideas few can make sense of. It features a breathtaking beauty, beauty of life itself. Without any superficiality such as music, effects and faster than life rhythm it creates suspense so much so that we stay on tip toes till the end wondering: what shall become of Yusuf? And we find it out at the end… OK I don’t want to spoil it. But let me tell you one thing when the movie was over nobody could move from their seats. This is the miracle of Dir. Semih Kaplanoğlu. No doubt Golden Bear was a well earned award for him and for Bal.”
The plot is simple. The movie isn’t. It deals about life and its perspective through the eyes of a child. “Bal” tells the story about Yusuf. The youngster lives in an isolated mountainous Black Sea region with his parents. His father is a beekeeper and Yusuf has a very strong bond with him. One day his father disappears and Yusuf, trying to find a meaning for his life, wanders through the mysterious woods in search for his dad.
Kaplanoğlu stated: “In the name of Turkish Films, this (Golden Bear) is a very meaningful prize. It’s a help to making better films.” We all hope so that we will be able to enjoy new masterpieces from his country.
Take one hour and forty minutes and let yourself travel to the years when you were a child, imagine yourself in such a magnificent and magical scenario, you won’t be disappointed. And I finish this suggestion applauding Bora Altas, Alev Uçarer, Tülin Özen, Erdal Besikçioglu, Orçun Köksal, Semih Kaplanoğlu and everyone else involved in this work of art. You deserve it.
Ps.: If you don’t like slow paced movies, don’t watch it and neither any of the Yusuf trilogy ;-).