Turkish Director, Bekir Bulbul’s debut feature, My Short Words (Benim Küçük Sözlerim) is a gentle, family film about childhood and friendship. It is also about the fundamental essence of nature and the necessity of slowing down and contemplating its beauty while we can.
by Valerie Grove
Watching something unfold in real time, otherwise known as ‘Slow TV’, recently became surprisingly popular viewing in the UK. Spending a couple of hours watching the gentle progress of a canal boat, or a herd of migrating reindeer with just the sounds of that environment, became a very relaxing antidote to the speed and noise of modern life.
Bekir Bulbul’s debut feature, My Short Words (Benim Küçük Sözlerim) is a film that also creates this very tangible slowing down into the pace and rhythm of nature. An adaptation of Mevlana Rumi and Said Nursi’s journey stories, the film is set in rural Anatolia and is about one important day in the life of three friends. After school on a hot summer day the three boys sit in the village fountain to cool down, but it’s small and what they really want to do is to swim. So they decide to get on their bikes and go all the way out to the big lake which can be seen in the far distance from their village. The journey inevitably ends up being more difficult than they think. The lake is further than they anticipated and their journey becomes one with challenges to overcome and lessons to learn.
We travel with them through vast layered landscapes with only the sounds of their voices the birds, insects and the wind in the trees. They take rests in which we stop with them and spend time, as they do, gazing at the magnificent beauty of the environment they are in. There is a distant and dreamlike quality to the whole film. Interspersed with scenes of the central character, Enes, sitting on his roof writing and drawing the story of their journey, it is even possible to think that what we are seeing is not really happening at all but is the story as it unfolds in Enes’s imagination.
The three child actors – Ebubekir Idare, Mevlut Idare, and Ahmet Enes Yaman – are natural and spontaneous and don’t ever really seem to be acting. They are entirely plausible as three kids disappearing for a day on an adventure and intending to be home in enough time to avoid getting into trouble with their parents. As the day goes on they have playful and not so playful fights. They laugh a lot together but swear at each other sometimes too. All the while we see more glimpses of their personalities emerging.
When they finally arrive at the lake things are not quite as expected but they play in the water and lose all sense of time. In keeping with the atmosphere often conjured up by the film there is a real dream sequence towards the end in which the thoughtful Enes, sleeping at the edge of the lake, is quite starkly made conscious of the transience of life.
My Short Words is a slow, gentle and slightly otherworldly film that paints a portrait of the seeking and the journey through the eyes of a child. It is also a film about the fundamental essence of nature and the necessity of slowing down and contemplating its beauty while we can.