Eight months after its premiere at Cannes, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s The Wild Pear Tree is opening next Wednesday in New York and its release has been heralded with this lovely poster by Scott Meola for Cinema Guild. I led off my Cannes competition round-up last May with an earlier poster for the film—one which also featured its protagonist dwarfed by a saturated landscape and Turner-esque skies—but this one is even better.
The Wild Pear Tree is a magical film, but its magic is hard to encapsulate in a poster. Most of its three hour running time features its hang-dog anti-hero, Sinan—an aspiring writer newly graduated from university who returns to his home town to try to publish his writing—shuffling around the town and its environs with his hands in his pockets, his head bowed and his mouth in a perpetual sneer. The film is composed of a series of conversations: with his dead-beat father, whose gambling debts become the bane of Sinan’s life; with his long-suffering mother; with a old crush; with a school friend; with a local writer; and with a couple of imams he encounters in an apple tree. But if the film is talky it is rarely static, with either the camera or the interlocutors in motion. And if it is serious it is rarely ponderous, and often very funny. But this being a Ceylan film it is also gorgeous. The quality of light in the film—in dappled groves, streaming through a cafe window, across the city at dusk—is always a wonder to behold. And it is that quality of light that Meola has tried to capture in his luminous poster.
This was the aforementioned international festival poster released for Cannes:
But the poster for the commercial release of the film in Turkey in June of last year could not be more different: a floating head, star-centric poster if ever there was one (not unlike the Turkish posters for Ceylan’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Climates).
There is another official Turkish release poster, designed by Arda Aktas, which I imagine was made to appeal more to the arthouse crowd (while reminding me a little of Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts).
Ceylan’s website features a number of other designs which seem to be unused comps, all attempts to render either Sinan or that stunted titular tree, or both, in a variety of styles.
Of these, the odd one out is the poster above left which depicts a scene that does not appear in the film: of Sinan’s school-teacher father posed outdoors with his class. Quite possibly these designs were commissioned before Ceylan had finished editing his film.
Of all the unused comp designs for the film I especially like these two illustrated pieces by the artist Ethem Onur Bilgiç:
The British, French and Italian release posters, meanwhile, all use the same still taken from one of the most beautiful sequences in the film:
Finally, just to give you a better sense of where Ceylan’s cinema stands in relation to Turkish cinema in general, here are two posters for recent films by The Wild Pear Tree’s two stars: Murat Cemcir, the father, seen top left with his regular comedy partner Ahmet Kural, and Dogu Demirkol, who plays Sinan, seen bottom right above the red van.