The Aesthetics of Boredom

Slow Cinema and the Virtues of the Long Take in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

in Projections
Restricted access

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between boredom and cinema, particularly by attending to the ways in which it has been used as an aesthetic strategy in contemporary slow films. These films use long takes and dedramatization to create dead time, where narrative causality and progress are abandoned to facilitate contemplative viewing. The article argues that this mode of spectatorship exhibits close affinities to underlying features of boredom, and that filmmakers mute dramatic intensity and foreground idleness and ambiguity for a more aesthetically rewarding cinematic experience. The article explores this question through examining different types of boredom and dedramatization, before concluding with an extended analysis of Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011).

Contributor Notes

Emre Çağlayan completed his PhD in Film at the University of Kent, Canterbury in 2014 and is currently visiting lecturer at the University of Brighton. His thesis examines the history and aesthetics of contemporary slow cinema, taking the films of Béla Tarr, Tsai Ming-liang and Nuri Bilge Ceylan as its most prominent examples.

Projections

The Journal for Movies and Mind

  • AndrewGeoff. 2012. “Journey to the End of the Night.” Sight and Sound 22(4): 2832.

  • ArslanSavaş. 2011. Cinema in Turkey: A New Critical History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • AytaçSenem. 2011. “Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da: Hakikat Kırıntıları [Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: Fragments of Truth].” Altyazı 110: 2831.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BairdBenjamin et al. 2012. “Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation.” Psychological Science 23(10): 11171122.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BordwellDavid. [1985] 2008. Narration in the Fiction Film. Abingdon: Routledge.

  • BordwellDavid. 2002. “Intensified Continuity: Visual Style in Contemporary American Film.” Film Quarterly 55(3): 1628.

  • BordwellDavid. 2005. Figures Traced in Light. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • CeylanNuri Bilge ed. 2007. Kasaba. İstanbul: Norgunk.

  • CeylanNuri Bilge. 2012. “The Second Marathon.” Sight and Sound 22(4): 3031.

  • DargisManohla and A.O. Scott. 2011. “In Defense of Slow and Boring.” New York Times3 June. www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/movies/films-in-defense-of-slow-and-boring.html (accessed 28 July 2015).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FlanaganMatthew. 2012. “Slow Cinema: Temporality and Style in Contemporary Art and Experimental Film.” PhD diss.University of Exeter.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GenetteGerard. 1980. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  • HanichJulian. 2010. Cinematic Emotion in Horror Films and Thrillers: The Aesthetic Paradox of Pleasurable Fear. New York: Routledge.

  • HendersonBrian. 1983. “Tense, Mood and Voice in Film (Notes after Genette).” Film Quarterly 36(4): 417.

  • HobermanJames. 2012. “A Search for a Corpse is So Much More in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.” Village Voice4 January. http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-01-04/film/a-searchfor-a-corpse-is-so-much-more-in-once-upon-a-time-in-anatolia/ (accessed 28 July 2015).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HonoréCarl. 2005. In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed. London: Orion.

  • JamesNick. 2010. “Passive Aggressive.” Sight and Sound 20(4): 5.

  • KochStephen. [1975] 2002. Stargazer: The Life World and Films of Andy Warhol. London: Marion Boyars.

  • KoisDan. 2011. “Eating Your Cultural Vegetables.” New York Times29 April. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/magazine/mag-01Riff-t.html?pagewanted=all (accessed 28 July 2015).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KuhnReinhard. 1976. The Demon of Noontide: Ennui in Western Literature. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Le FanuMark. 1997. “Metaphysics of the ‘Long Take’: Some Post-Bazinian Reflections.” P.O.V. 4. http://pov.imv.au.dk/Issue_04/section_1/artc1A.html (accessed 28 July 2015).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LeePamela. 2004. Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s. Cambridge: MIT Press.

  • LimSong Hwee. 2014. Tsai Ming-liang and a Cinema of Slowness. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

  • LopatePhillip. 1998. “Diary of a Country Priest: Films as Spiritual Life.” Pp. 7385 in Totally Tenderly Tragically. New York: Anchor Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MarguilesYvonne. 1996. Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • MartinAdrian. 2010. “Slow Defence.” de Filmkrant 323 (July–August). http://www.filmkrant.nl/world_wide_angle/7218 (accessed 28 July 2015).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MisekRichard. 2010. “Dead Time: Cinema, Heidegger, and Boredom.” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 24(5): 777785.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MrazekMichael D.Jonathan Smallwood and Jonathan W. Schooler. 2012. “Mindfulness and Mind-Wandering: Finding Convergence Through Opposing Constructs.” Emotion 12(3): 442448.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PetroPatrice. 2002. Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

  • RomneyJonathan. 2010. “In Search of Lost Time.” Sight and Sound 20(2): 4344.

  • RosenbaumJonathan. 2000. “Overrated Solutions: L’Humanite.” http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2000/06/overrated-solutions/ (accessed 28 July 2015).

    • Export Citation
  • SarrisAndrew. 1970. Confessions of a Cultist: On the Cinema 1955–1969. New York: Simon and Schuster.

  • SayarVecdi. 2011. “Bozkırda Otopsi: Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da [Autopsy on the Steppes: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia].” Altyazı 107: 3941.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SchoonoverKarl. 2012. “Wastrels of Time: Slow Cinema’s Laboring Body, the Political Spectator, and the Queer.” Framework 53(1): 6578.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SitneyAdams. 1979. Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde 1943–1978. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • SmallwoodJonathan and Jonathan W. Schooler. 2006. “The Restless Mind.” Psychological Bulletin 132(6): 946958.

  • SpacksPatricia Meyer. 1995. Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

  • SvendsenLars. 2005. A Philosophy of Boredom. London: Reaktion Books.

  • TanEd. 2011. Emotion and the Structure of Narrative Film: Film as an Emotion Machine. New York: Routledge.

  • TooheyPeter. 2012. Boredom: A Lively History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

  • YücelFırat. 2011. “Utanç [Shame].” Altyazı 110: 1.

  • ZavattiniCesare. 1978. “A Thesis on Neo-Realism.” Pp. 6778 in Springtime in Italy ed. and trans. David Overbey. London: Talisman Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AkermanChantal. 1975. Jeanne Dielman 23 Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles. Belgium and France.

  • AlonsoLisandro. 2001. La Libertad. Argentina.

  • BenningJames. 2009. Ruhr. Germany.

  • BressonRobert. 1951. Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d’un curé de campagne). France.

  • CeylanNuri Bilge. 2011. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da). Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • HuttonPeter. 2007. At Sea. USA.

  • LeoneSergio. 1968. Once Upon a Time in the West. Italy, USA, and Spain.

  • LeoneSergio. 1984. Once Upon a Time in America. Italy and USA.

  • RosselliniRoberto. 1953. Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia). Italy and France.

  • SerraAlbert. 2006. Honor of the Knights (Quixotic). Spain.

  • SnowMichael. 1967. Wavelength. Canada.

  • SnowMichael. 1971. La Région Centrale. Canada.

  • TarrBéla. 1988. Damnation (Kárhozat). Hungary.

  • TarrBéla. 1994. Sátántangó. Hungary, Germany, and Switzerland.

  • TarrBéla. 2000. Werckmeister Harmonies (Werckmeister harmóniák). Hungary, Italy, Germany, and France.

  • TarrBéla. 2011. The Turin Horse (A torinói ló). Hungary, France, Germany, Switzerland, and USA.

  • WarholAndy. 1963. Eat. USA.

  • WarholAndy. 1963. Haircut. USA

  • WarholAndy. 1963. Sleep. USA

  • WarholAndy. 1964. Empire. USA.

  • ZvyagintsevAndrey. 2006. The Banishment (Izgnanie). Russia.