“Hasan’s Promises”: a sumptuous naturalistic and supernatural journey

This film is sumptuous. And so far from the norms, complacency and turmoil of our time. Gaston Bachelard, the philosopher inspired by the four elements – air, water, fire and earth – would have liked it. The ritual question to which the author of “The Flame of a Candle” submitted his friends the poets: Tell me what is your ghost? The sylph, the ondine, the salamander or the gnome? “, he would undoubtedly have asked it to the Turkish director Semih Kaplanoğlu after having seen “the Promises of Hasan” (in theaters August 3).

The image is so beautiful that we almost forget the plot. Golden fields, as far as the eye can see, without a living soul. The powerful summer wind, which makes the radiant leaves of the fruit trees sing. An outdoor café, where farmers exhausted by the heat wave are seated, on which a huge sycamore spreads its warm shadow. And this tree with vast branches, alone in the middle of nowhere, which one would think established for eternity, which will be uprooted to better come back, as if fallen from the sky (I won’t say more, the scene is magical) .

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Old quarrels and badly extinguished fires

But here, in this Turkish countryside, the sun is as misleading as at Mikhalkov. The harmonious landscapes hide old quarrels and badly extinguished fires. A farmer, Hasan (Umut Karadağ), has won the lottery for a pilgrimage to Mecca with his wife, Emine (Filiz Bozok). To perform hajj and become a hajji, he must obtain forgiveness for his past wrongdoings. We discover that this gentle-faced man did not fail, in his life, to schem, to cheat, to circumvent a judge, to seek his interest first. Above all, he fell out with his brother, who can’t even blame him anymore because, posted in front of the horizon, he has Alzheimer’s (another shocking scene). And now the intransigent peasant suddenly begins to cry. Who knows if he too is not dreaming of forgetting everything.

This film by the filmmaker of “Milk” and “Miel” (Golden Bear 2010) takes its time: 2h27. Do not be afraid. Summer is the perfect time for this long journey that is both naturalistic and supernatural, when it hails nasty apples on sinners and where the earth is blue like an orange. Kaplanoğlu’s fresco is produced by the ARP of Michèle Halberstadt and Laurent Pétin, to whom we owe “The School at the End of the World”, improbable, broke and luminous Bhutanese film, which has just exceeded, on July 7, the 100,000 entries in France. We therefore want to believe that “Hasan’s Promises” will well deserve their title.

“The School at the End of the World”: if the era attacks you, registerHasan’s Promises, by Semih Kaplanoğlu, with Umut Karadağ, Filiz Bozok, Gökhan Azlağ. In theaters August 3.

Published in “L’OBS” of July 28, 2022.

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