Film 4 champions movies that most viewers would never otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy, let alone even know about. Therefore, they are to be congratulated and supported for showing minor gems such as 'Honey' (Bal).
A small number of films have been applauded for stripping down both pace and cinematic frills to convey a way of life. Literally, any slower and we'd be in real time! Italy's 'A Tree of Wooden Clogs' is a famous example which understandably divides opinion quite severely.
It is almost incidental as to whom, what, and where 'Bal' is set and about. It will obviously appeal to those who prefer the organic side to things in life, whether in nature, lifestyle or in the cinematic process. Bal covers all these to a generous degree.
Yes, it features throughout a six year old stammering Turkish schoolboy - Yusuf - not particularly photogenic, or cute, or naughty, or anything. Just an everyday kid who has a bee-keeping father, who doesn't actually keep bees. Well, not in any one place - he places the hides in remote and beautiful areas and then extracts the honey. His quite young (looking) dutiful mother picks tea.
I feel quite privileged to have been given a beautifully, often exquisitely, photographed study of this life and taking up just two hours of my own life. I learned much and there is a quiet story in there somewhere - you can make of it what you will, it's almost unimportant. Or is it?
I turned my hi-fi amplifier up quite high when playing the film's sound through it and would strongly suggest you do similar. The all- encompassing natural sounds are so well recorded, every nuance and snippet of sound help paint a very vivid sonic picture. You could almost close one's eyes and listen to this on its own. Almost uniquely, (and thankfully) you won't have to suffer a sudden booming beat or great crescendo of added noise to make you jump out of your skin. It would sound great with headphones, too, I'm sure (as long as you have a stereo source, of course).
Personally, I always find it comforting when a film, involving a child features a good teacher. We all know and recognise one, from our own childhoods - Yusuf's teacher is measured and fair, calm and patient, rewarding good work, dissuading bad. These scenes were an absolute pleasure.
Apparently, this is the final part in a trio of films by Turkish writer/director Semih Kaplanoglu, though chronologically, it is the first part. Naturally, now, I want to see the other two parts, 'Egg' and 'Milk'. I'm hoping that Film 4 will be showing these, too, at some point.
The young boy Yusuf's best friend is his father, who supports his family's modest life with the honey he collects from tall trees in the forests of the remote Turkish countryside. Yusuf is a quiet boy, and his mother is concerned for his future. Perhaps he will follow in his father's footsteps, or perhaps school will offer him other opportunities. But the honey crop is failing, and Yusuf has trouble learning how to read. The greatest fear strikes when Yusuf's father doesn't return home from the forest.—Peter Brandt Nielsen
Uploaded by: FREEMAN