Friday, December 09, 2005

Post-Modern Turkish Cinema - Article II

The other day, my beautiful Turkish friend Asli asked me if I knew when the next Turkish film Festival would take place. I said I was hoping it would be soon, before the year ends, to preserve the record of its unbroken annual continuity. My wife Clarice (psychologist and philosopher) had attended it with me last year, and could hardly wait to see the crop of the best Turkish films this year. I then told Asil about Vedide Kaymak, a remarkable woman who is the founder and artistic director of the said Festival based at the Rio Cinema (107 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2PB) since its inception 12 years ago – she has an impeccable sense for selecting quality films, upon which as a film-critic one can rely without any hesitation.

The man behind the throne, her Duke of Edinburgh as it were, is Charles Rubinstein, the General Manager of the Rio, who has been consistently sustaining Ms Kaymak’s heroic non-commercial, and non-mercenary, noble efforts in the heartland of the London Turkish community in Stoke Newington (Dalston). Together, they gave creative London its best New Year’s present in 2004 deserving post-facto a detailed critical analysis – exciting, meaningful, stunningly photographed films both from mainland Turkey, and Diaspora Turkish communities of the European Union countries.

In this too, Turkish cinema is making a unique contribution to world culture – its creative forces are emerging everywhere. German cinema (for example) seems to be quite dead in the water – some may disagree with me, but the only interesting sign nowadays of German cinematic life being shown seems to appear in… Turkish films subsidized by Bavarian capital – one could say without much hesitation that the best films of German cinema today seem to be directed (and acted) by an entirely Europeanised Turkish creative talent, lock stock and barrel, producing even a rich juicy dosage of rampant foul language surpassing the sewage-mouthed Tarantino, the American film-director whose linguistic post-modern Americana document a lamentable case of inarticulate idiocy.

The swearing in director Fatih Akin’s German-Turkish films are as colourful as his cinematography, and perhaps a source of great outrage for the fundamentalists of Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan’s ruling party, to use as evidence for the Western corruption of traditional Turkish social values – not that, mind you, the religious fundamentalists do not swear, just that they would not in public (and never in the presence of women!) In Turco-German Akin’s films everybody swears all the time, and beautiful women worse of all…

In this matter, I personally find myself in reluctant agreement with the Fundamentalists – I think outrageous social behaviour (drunkenness or binge drinking to the degree of public vomiting, drug addiction causing crime, incontinent use of foul language etc.) is unforgivable in life generally, let alone in films, but of course I would not then want to censor it, nor imprison people for it, or kill them for any reason – I can think of no conceivable reason as to why any human being, let alone a religious one, should want to kill, let alone for God...

More than anything, I feel sad and sorry for decent human beings suffering from a need to use foul language – a horrendous social self-degradation in capitalist societies. Those who think Karl Marx is finished – they do not understand that those social ills (yes, indeed the abundant use of ‘Fuck-shit’ category of expletives Hollywood style) have their true classical diagnosis in Marx’s theory of Alienation caused directly by the unjust inequalities of the capitalist relations of economic production.

What happened in Russia and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union is proof enough that Globalisation is the worst of capitalist imperialism – also a theme in post-modern Turkish cinema, as the Russian prostitutes have flooded the back streets of Istanbul.

If only Russia and its earlier Soviet satellites could show anything decent replacing their former regimes, one could have doubted the potential of Communism – but never, in view of what these countries have fallen into – the rape and murder of whole nations, where drugs and prostitution are the only commodities the ruling local mafias webbed to the American Mafia, are producing…

There were three additional strands to the main features of the usual Festival fare – Documentaries specifically tackling the problem of Cyprus, a tribute to Fatih Akin, and in search of new talent among a massive programme of shorts spread over 3 afternoon sessions.

Karpuz Kabugundan Gemiler Yapmak [Boats out of Watermelon Rinds]; Dir. Ahmet Ulucay, 98m, Turkey 2004.

A strange choice for the Gala opening night of the festival – the weakest film of the season, it beggars belief that the artistic directors could have given it the great publicity it did not deserve. The work of an obviously inexperienced director, an overextended short film, the director could have been hailed as a great potential talent if this film was no longer than twenty minutes.

Obviously derivative in its main theme from a minor theme in Fatih Akin’s Solino (2002), Ulucay’s film deals with the sweet travails and tribulations of two village boys wanting to build a film projector. They are teenagers (14 years old?), surely old enough to know that they cannot pull a film manually with their own bare hands through a torch lens to expose it on a screen… this overstretched gentle joke produces furtive walks in the night, through unlit streets, haunted by shadowy figures, ending in what looks like a scene from the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, burning their film in a massive cauldron with other unwanted garbage from the village…

This village they call it a “town” in the subtitles of the film, counts hardly more than a few streets, revealed when one of the boys chases two sisters down the lanes, going presumably non-existent supermarket shopping… Their mother, a widow, takes one of the boys (apprenticed to a watermelon seller, hence the title) to her heart and hearth, infuriating her elder daughter who wishes to be posh, and looks down her nose at everybody else calling them “gypsies”!

The boys (and the men) with their western clothing look blaringly modern against the women in medieval Sufi shalvar albeit brilliantly coloured, spic-and-span laundered and ironed – it gives the film a discordant pitch, making it obvious that these are posh Europeanised Istanbul actresses thrown into the deeper end of the Turkish medieval village life, entirely out of their own depth, and it shows.

I am no expert at the swearing habits of Turkish villagers, but I find it highly unlikely that the women would utter “fuck off” under any circumstance, not even to a boy!

I think it inconceivable that a mature woman could be found going to the fountain in the village square well after… midnight, hazarding a walk through unlit winding streets, with pales of water, and moreover, chat to a teenager…

Something is quite not right with this film, in fact something fundamental is quite wrong, and I think it is this – such cinematic projects need the Italian neo-realist competence of handling non-actors in their natural environments.

The young director is undoubtedly talented, and his film suffused with human warmth typical of Turkish cinema does not lack original sequences as, the boys’ daily long march to the “town” from their dusty villages, photographed from their backs, like two Chaplinesque figures trundling along, discussing their childish problems seen through occasional profiles. The watermelon seller is a handsome middle-aged man whose shop is the mere pavement in a corner street opposite a funeral director – he is so bored out of his wits that when a coffin is laid before him, he imagines the dead moving – it is a small sweet jump to his good-hearted fantasy that he could marry soon the widow, using his apprentice’s connections – no wonder he goes bankrupt towards the end of the film giving up his whole stock to the local mafia…

Insaat (Under Construction); Dir.Omer Vargi, 108m, Turkey 2003.

This is the first time in a lifetime of film viewing that I did not wish the film to end… and that includes the masterpieces of Ingmar Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, Vittorio de Sica, and now the forgotten classics of Rouben Mamoulian – the Hollywood Armenian film-director who produced the world’s first Technicolor film.

Not that this Turkish film did not achieve its natural conclusion. On the contrary, Vargi’s film flowed into a logical ending – just that the whole cinematic experience was bathed in overwhelming human warmth – the sheer human decency of its working class characters was breathtaking to witness.

Characterized (in publicity materials) as a “black comedy”, it is nothing like any Hollywood black comedy you have ever seen – it is in fact a perfect example of the deeply flawed critical habit of judging Turkish films (and the films of other nationals) by the yardstick of American genres – simplistic categories, with stereotypical characterizations and simple stories – plot twists and turns, as some American film experts seem to think, do not render a story complex but merely foolish – intended for the mass-consumption of unsophisticated dumb American audiences. We must get rid of the genres, and all critically inane talk about it – thank god, none of the non-American greats of world cinema ever created their masterpieces according to those Hollywood categories meant for easy consumption, by non-thinking infantile audiences grabbed by Walt Disney…

This Turkish film begins with a semi-touristy aerial photography of Istanbul’s wealthy areas, to cleverly shift and sift visually through the Banking area, then to the slum regions of the Byzantine capital, to finally descend onto a building site, where two mates are stuck building a house for a Mercedes driving boss.

Ali (initially slightly amateurishly acted by Sevket Coruh – but no matter, he achieved greatness halfway through, to the end) and Sudi (played perfectly by Emre Kinay, deserving better than an Oscar – a double Oscar!) are the two mates, so close as to be blood brothers. Their relationship is constructed with such profound warmth and humanity, without a whiff of any homosexuality, that it serves as a perfect example of the remarkable skill with which Turkish film directors seem to be endowed uniquely in world cinema – the ability to portray the profundity of same-sex friendship without sexualizing it into homosexuality, which seems to be the post-modern requisite norm in American and West European film industry. In this, I think Turkish cinema has a lot to teach Western film-makers. Let Omer Vargi’s film be a whole big textbook on the subject.

There is an interfering neighbour, a hunchbacked old woman (gloriously hilariously acted straight, without any camping up, which would be the trap of a British film director) from the other side of the street, constantly watching the mates, and critiquing daily their bricklaying and cementing work, commenting on the right mixture of sea sand that she thinks must be cleansed of its shells…

As if the old woman’s publicly shouted nagging were not enough, Sudi one night is awoken by the noise of a spade digging surreptitiously in the backyard, only to discover that his boss is burying a… dead body! The mates are horrified, and terrified – they are citizens of such decency that they would want to have nothing ever to do with any criminal act – the film is full of one-liners, wise philosophical Confucian-style sayings splurged here and there, from anybody’s mouth, enlightening life’s difficulties and the need for survival through economic poverty, the constant exploitation of the poor by the wealthy, and the mafia infestation of Turkish social life – one of the characters, a hysterical ‘shorty’ (played excellently by an actress) is a TV journalist on the verge of a scoop, to be given by a mafia super-grass the list of all the famous Turks snorting cocaine… instead, she runs him over by mistake!

She becomes only one of an endless string of first, Mafiosi, then, ordinary people bringing their murdered bodies to the construction workers to get rid of them – soon the mates’ working (and living) site turns into a cemetery of mass graves. The TV journalist had forgotten her camcorder at their place. Clever clogs Sudi begins to secretly film their customers, egged on by himself, to tell the circumstances of their crimes – never mind the Mafia Families, some of all the professions (symbolical of Turkish social classes) are there – Bankers, psychiatrists, jealous lovers, feminists fornicating with toy-boys, Gays – all kill their mates unwittingly, accidentally, out of bottled up rage, misunderstandings, unfulfilled passions, any imaginable cause that can let people lose control, and end in murder.

The interfering neighbour opens a second vein of money-mining for the pair, when Ali makes up to her that Sudi is the great grandson of a Mufti – an imagined Sheikh Sehabuttin, capable of distance healing with… amulets! A new stream of an endless queue of clients forms, to consult Sudi, especially at night time – mostly women of all sorts, concerned mostly with their relatives’ sex lives... Sudi has to change his clothes frequently, to wear the traditional loose striped shirt, and sit cross-legged for the blowing of hot air on worried faces, lifting off the evil spells of evil spirits…

The director Omer Vargi does not forget to explore also the Biblical theme of the Woman’s evil, very much the preoccupation of Turkish men – both traditional and modern, and post-modern even more so… A local sophisticated divorcee comes between the mates, as Sudi falls seriously in love with her. But they make up – Ali in turn finds love in the sweetly unsophisticated daughter of one of their old-women customers. Ali himself is cross-eyed, and they both take delight in Ali’s identification with the ‘Armenian’ cats of Lake Van – apparently most famous in Turkey for possessing eyes that can see both ways…

Pre- the women, the mates were dreaming of escaping to Italy to start a new life in idealized and idolized Europe, when Sudi catches the TV news that Turkish refugees in Italy had just been arrested and imprisoned as illegal immigrants… The four of them, this time girl-friends included in social equality, have a summit and decide to call it a day, forget xenophobic racist Europe, take the monies accumulated under the mattress (in Dollars paid cash by their clients, as if Turkey was a state of the USA) and just leave – drive in an old banger in Turkey to anywhere, wherever a road would take them, as they cannot decide whereto…

But as bad luck would have it… Japanese scientists turn up with the local governor, wanting to dig up their building-site to measure the seismic potential of an earthquake happening soon… The mates resist, and in the fracas that follows, the competing Mafia Families all turn up together – in a hilarious inimitable send up of Hollywood mafia films, everybody puts a gun to somebody’s head threatening to blow their brains out… while the interfering neighbour, who by now has adopted the mates as the sons she never had, calls the Police that turn up and… leave, frightened of the Mafiosi…

Suddenly, the Capo di Capo – the Boss of the mafia Bosses, middle aged, handsome, turns up with his bodyguards, all dressed up in angelic camp creamy white suits (echoing the gay lead in the American film of Tennessee Williams’ play Suddenly Last Summer). With a totally reasonable calm rationality, he persuades everyone to lay down their guns, to save their skins. He calls for a rational solution of their crime feuds – you wish he were the United Nations ambassador sent to all the hot spots of the world as a master of conflict management! “You fools think we are in a Hollywood film?” he chides the Mafiosi memorably – “We are all in it together, let’s sit down and discuss it rationally” he orders, and arranges for the… Police to come and ‘discover’ the dead bodies, and arrest the workmates as the guilty partners! But little could he guess that Sudi had given the collection of his incriminating films to his girl-friend, hoping that she will hand them over to the authorities, to exact the justice they deserve.

The film ends on the Turkish national television reporting the shocking discovery of the mass graves, as if in Yugoslavia or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, while the two poor men (in all the meanings of the word) are carried through a horrified mob attacking them. The Big Question haunting the lives of all the poor and the abused in the world is left unanswered – can they, will they ever be able to get justice from their corrupt, mafia-infested rulers, even with all the recorded historical factual self-confessed filmed evidence of the criminals proving their own guilt?

With this film alone Omer Vargi joins hands with the greats of humane cinema. The film is not explicitly political, but profoundly sociological, unravelling corrupted social relations in a dollars-obsessed economy, where even the Mafiosi are victims of circumstances beyond their control – symbolized by the owner of the building site, whose life is threatened forcing him to turn reluctant accomplice in assuming the guilt of the mafia-murder of his childhood friend.

The neurotic local slapper is not a prostitute, but just a homeless village girl come to the neon lights of the Europeanised Istanbul, offered lodgings (and driven mad…) by her Bourgeois female friend living it up…

The interfering neighbour is a sweet old lonely lady, plainly out of her mind, because of sheer boredom and social isolation – a disease caused by the individual’s alienation in capitalist societies.

Vargi’s complicated film is not faultless – knots here and there, and I have some reservations about the necessity of the second thematic seam satirizing the religious fundamentalists as superstitious believers in hocus pocus, but I repeat, for the first time in my professional life, I did not want a film, this film, to end – and I saw it twice, without changing any of my mind. It should have been the Gala choice to launch the festival.

Neredesin Firuze [Where’s Firuze]; Dir. Ezel Akay, 138m, Turkey 2004.

In comparison with the warmth of the tragic-comic condition in Insaat, Akay’s film is an example of cold Turkish high (very high!) camp. The cinematography is superbly kaleidoscopically Technicolor in costumes and sets, even more than a Walt Disney cartoon.

I cannot tell if this film satirizes or imitates the infantilism of the Eurovision Song Contest, of which the British X-Factor is an awful parody – similar sequences pre-date it here. Of course the Japanese invention of Karaoke may have served as the common source of inspiration for both, whereby people of all ages try to sing, even though they are off tune, off pitch and quite bonkers...

If Akay’s film is intended as a satire on the Indian Bollywood film industry, then it is a fair and good game. Still, it is not to my tastes, while I acknowledge the popularity of this Turkish market, and the massive audience it obviously attracts (the most sold out of the Festival season).

I was startled to note that a young Turkish lady from the cinema Gallery, in a question and answer session (after the first showing of the film) asked the Director on the stage… to sing for ‘us’. Thank god the Director was professional enough to decline, but the young lady would not give up, and insisted cheekily to have her wish granted, which of course was not.

Inat Hikayeleri [Tales of Intransigence]; Dir. Reis Celik, 90m, Turkey-Germany 2003.

A remarkable narrative film (could have been another Gala opening choice) – stories within stories that show the originalities of Turkish treatment of established genres – compared with Kurosawa’s incomparable Rashomon (one of the pioneers of the multi-layered story-telling), and the more repulsive examples of Pasolini’s Decameron, Canterbury Tales, and the totally disgusting Salo, Celik’s film shines brilliantly as a gem.

It begins with that magnificent and glorious actor Tuncel Kurtiz, whose voice contains a hundred cellos, himself looking like a volcano on the verge of eruption, standing in a snow bound mountainous landscape – he tells us that many nations have fought endless battles massacring each other on these lands so unnecessarily that, even the beloveds of his mountains – the clouds, have vanished, causing their lovers- the mountains infinite grief and eternal snow… He promises to tell us the stories bounded by cities like Kars and Ardahan – Armenian audiences would instantly recognize these as the region of their ancestral cities topped by their sacred mountains of Ararat, subtitled only at the end of the film.

The first (of the three) is a story of a bet set long-term by a wishbone (from a chicken consumed at a wedding party), forced onto the two notables from different villages. The Bet is set, when they pull at the V-shaped bone joining the wings of the chicken, until it breaks off. Then the punters must miss no occasion to give one another objects, counting on the possibility that the opponent might have forgotten the bet, in which case the giver wins. Not to lose, the opponent must say loud and clear before he touches the offered gift, that he remembers their bet.

One of them gets so obsessed that he starts experiencing constant nightmares, dreaming of his wife committing adultery with his opponent. Every time he wakes up, he beats up his wife… a typical male behaviour in Turkish villages, missing no opportunity of ensuring that the wife never forgets Who’s Boss!

One day, even during the day, daydreaming while blizzards outside punish the world, he dreams of giving the reigns of his horse to his opponent, who he is sure would not remember the wishbone-bet amidst the inhospitable climatic chaos. He wakes up, jumps up, and against the pleas of wife and son, risking life and limb, rides to his opponent’s village, makes to the house, gives the reins of his horse to him… but alas, alack, the opponent shouts he remembered the bet. As a kind friend though, he wants him to stay overnight in the warmth of his house. But no, no use, the man is inat, literally enormously stubborn like a donkey – the folk belief in these parts of the world – with his masculine macho pride hurt, he rides into the blizzards, and freezes to death…

Masculine chauvinist macho stubbornness causing human tragedy and death is one of the grand themes of Celik’s film, titled in Turkish as Tales of Stubborness, and there is no excuse to mistranslate it in English as intransigence.

The second tale is a love-story – a class-conscious land-owning father (played magnificently by Tuncel Kurtiz as the Narrator, and the lead in all the three tales) decides that his son should be forced into marrying the paternal choice of a bride, having rejected the earlier ones, starting at the top with the daughter of the Padishah of Iran… The son refuses even this one, the daughter of the local chief, and is terrified to confess that he is actually in love with a poor peasant girl.

The father is desperate. He goes to consult an experienced polygamous friend, who comforts him by proposing that he shall set the peasant girl a riddle, which no one, not even a wise man like himself could solve, for a hundred years. They give the girl five pairs of match-size sticks, to be placed on a table like a radiating sun, of which a star is to be made, but without manhandling any of the sticks – a truly impossible task!

They give the bride-to-be forty days, causing her immense grief struggling for a solution. The forty days pass and the father, an ancient castle-owner, orders the servants to begin preparations for the marriage of his own choice of a wealthy bride, when lo and behold, in the nick of time, the peasant girl arrives on horseback to announce that she has indeed solved the riddle… the proof? She places the stick-pairs on the table, drops water over them, and behold – slowly the wooden sticks expand and form a beautiful star…

The virile father and his chauvinist cohorts are stunned, that a woman, let alone a peasant one, can possess enough brains to defeat male wisdom and experience of ages… They demand to know how she found the solution. She answers that in her desperate love and wretchedness, when her tears fell on the sticks accidentally; it provided her with the natural solution... the moral? Emotional creative nature conquers rational logic!

The men reluctantly agree to the marriage – but wait, this peasant girl is also a post-modern feminist – she says the castle-owning father can stuff his wimpy son in whatever hole he wants, as she is having none of him, for putting her through forty days of total misery, and she stomps out of the castle room never to return…

The Director, Reis Celik intelligently, subtly and beautifully integrates the ancient, the modern and the post-modern in intricate narrative embroidery that could teach a thing or two to any film director of international standing. As the first story is undoubtedly about murderous virile stubbornness (be it manifest in men like George Bush or women like Condoleeza Rice), the second story is without a shred of doubt about liberated female emotionality – wiser than the wise men, and most loving even in desertion.

The last tale is a masterpiece of obscene political humour, told masterly, unforgettably, and cleanly, without any visual or verbal obscenities – a powerful and devastating attack on the most inhuman social system of Capitalism.

Celik imprints his last parable on the viewer’s brain like a computer burning data on a CD – you will never forget it, and will laugh and laugh forever, feeling eternally grateful to Celik for such a powerful insight – it is worth telling in detail.

Saho (Tuncel Kurtiz) is a punter whose speciality is betting. He is also the frustrating riddle of the young handsome local Bank Manager, half his age (perfectly acted by Kemal Gultekin, I think), as he can never understand how Saho always saves money in his bank, and never withdraws any!

How can Saho survive without any money? Obviously a capitalist’s murderous nightmare – if it were at all possible, it would destroy the money-obsessed system that makes whores of us all!

The Bank manager is determined to find out Saho’s secret, in case he can exploit it himself to make even more money he does not need, as he is obviously well paid. He invites Saho to a foxy warm meeting – offers him tea, letting Saho even get sexually excited by his tea-making young secretary. And finally, the million-dollar question – What does Saho do, as a profession, that lets him save money in the bank, and never makes him need to spend any to survive… Saho is happy to oblige and proudly announces that he is a betting man. The Banker is even more amazed – surely Saho would lose some, as he may win some.

Saho’s answer falls like a thunderbolt – he never loses any bets! Proof? He will bet with his host, the Bank Manager himself, that in a month’s time, a grey hair from somewhere on his body will change direction and jut out of his…ass!

And Tuncel Kurtiz gloriously, in a grotesque gesture, sticks his finger up! The Banker, this youthful jet-black haired Americanised symbol of globalisation, is dumbfounded – he agrees instantly to the bet, as he is cock-certain that no such hair will overtake his well-groomed bottom in the foreseeable future.

Saho leaves their high-powered meeting, promising to return in a month’s time, on the 25th of April – the genocide of the Armenians ordered by the Young Turk regime had begun on the 24th of April, 1915 – with an independent witness to check the condition of the Banker’s arse.

On the said date, Saho appears with a briefcase full of the agreed betting sum of one million pounds, with the appropriately formally dressed moukhtar (the local governor) to verify the results.

A close-up shows the name of the Bank as Cildir Bank, of madness…They take tea together. The Banker, very much like an IMF banker, cock-sure that the world is his to rule, shows some compassion to poor Saho, offering to cancel the bet (symbolical of the Third World debt to the Americanised IMF?). Saho and the governor would not hear of it. They are here for the beer – to check for the grey hair in the Banker’s bottom.

The Banker happily invites them to his private bathroom. Now if this film were directed by a gay American, or a European Pasolini, Bertolucci, by now the viewer would have been offered a hundred close-up shots of well made-up bronzed-up Californian sun-drenched US buttocks, or anal shots of Italian gladiators! Not a sight of them in this Turkish film.

With a jump-cut, the Turkish Banker and his clients are merely shown to come out of their private viewing, with the bet confirmed out of the spectator’s sight – the Governor leaves sour-faced but with the satisfaction of a mission accomplished…

The IMF type Banker happy that he has won the bet wants his pound of flesh from Saho, who joyously hands over to him the briefcase, announcing that it contains not one, but two millions, one million for the Banker, and one million for Saho himself to be put in his own account, for, he had simultaneously betted with the moukhtar that on this day, he, Saho, would get the Bank Manager to show them his arse… Capitalism is fit for bottom-displaying Apes!

Reis Celik achieves all this in a bleak but beautiful snow-bound landscape, of almost monochrome location work in Anatolia, with the snow filmed in all its nuances of natural light, woven in an unforgettable framework (outside of the stories) of complex topical references as people go about their ordinary lives locked into stubborn competitiveness.

There is Kaiser for example, a Turk with a German name epitomizing the epithet of the German Kaiser responsible for the First World War, when Germany was Turkey’s main ally, and the main cause of its loss of the (Ottoman) empire.

Celik builds complex satirical puns and modern references in the script, decrying those fatal imperialist political errors – the Turkish Kaiser here is the owner of a modern minibus coloured dark blood-red… ferrying passengers across a frozen lake (the Armenian Lake Van? in the heartland of Anatolia – the mother of Se-van up in the Caucasian Republic of Armenia) that may shatter and swallow them up anytime. He threatens the livelihood of the local traditional horse-drawn cart owner, doing the same journey but safely, without any risk to the passengers’ lives, providing them moreover caringly with warm blankets, and frequent stops for provisions.

Kaiser’s minibus has all the mod-cons – heating, stereo, windows … even though it gets stuck in the snow, and the passengers have to get out dragging it out, like donkeys! While in the bus, they discuss the… Korean War, some of them have fought for the Americans they label as “cowards”, and who are “only brave in the presence of Turkish soldiers”!

The chauvinist joke is immediately dissipated by the further observation of a veteran of the war, who leaves no doubt that they themselves (the Turkish soldiers) were ignorant of any causes for the senseless war, were used merely as canon fodder by their own Machiavellian Turkish governments at home in Ankara, – “they said go – we went, they said fall on the ground – we fell, they said shoot – we shot!”

The Director’s topical references will not spare even Bush’s war in Iraq – Saho tells the Banker that he won’t bet on the outcome of the war there, even though he knows who shall be the ultimate winners – the bomb-makers! And because all the sides are losers, except of course the anonymous bomb-makers…

What unfortunately and tragically spoils almost a perfect ‘Marxist’ work-of-art is the sudden inexplicable, and unacceptable racist chauvinist nationalism of the last only few concluding lines of the film – the film had began with commendable Marxist internationalism, enlightening all human condition, condemning the horrible warmongering of all nations, only to conclude in total contradiction at the end of the film, with the same Narrator on the screen, that these and such wonderful tales from the Ararat region were carried by the local troubadours – by the Turks – to Europe and all over the world, initiating everybody’s culture…

Thankfully (and cleverly) “by the Turks” was not subtitled, presumably not to offend the world, but it was there in the film, in the narrator’s speech, as a grotesque monstrosity.

The absolute unalterable historical fact is that the Turks appeared in the West and sacked Constantinople in the mid 15th century – Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’ founded the Ottoman Sultanate only in 1520 AD.

The Armenians were there two thousand years earlier, surviving the Hittites, the Urartians, the Byzantines, the Ottomans – their last sultan Hamit, who was given the sobriquet The Red Sultan by the international press of the time precisely for his genocidal attempt to massacre bloodily the native Armenians of Anatolia. Toppled by the pseudo-revolutionary-republican Young Turks Party (with the help of truly revolutionary Armenian political parties), the bloodied Sultan nevertheless left them his genocidal legacy – most of the generation of my own grandparents alas perished in 1915, deported (with our parents as children) on a death march out of their ancestral lands they had settled continuously for millennia.

Older than any European Aristocracy, my own paternal and maternal grandparents owned between them most of Khasgal-Adapazar for example, producing ‘Chinese’ silk from cocoons fed on forests of mulberry trees… My paternal grandfather Hovhanness (whose name I bear) owned further several water-mills, and was the local proto-Medici money-lender – more than a hundred IOUs have survived miraculously now in the Matenataran – the National Manuscript Museum of Armenia – from three bags full lost during the deportations. Most of the family names of the borrowers mentioned in those documents have survived only…in those documents. My grandfather’s emptied mansion sited on a hill (as in Britain’s Iron Age archaeological sites) was later turned into barracks by the retreating Greek armies during the civil war in Turkey following the end of the First World War (a Greek soldier has left us a photograph!), to then be used for the same purpose by the victorious Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Still later, it was burnt to the ground we do not know when, how, why, and by whom?

The continuity of our historical identity was viciously, violently, abruptly, inhumanly cut-off. I cannot tell my children my family’s full history, as my parents would speak of only happy bits and pieces, trying desperately to forget the genocidal trauma they had lived through.

How could Reis Celik, a man of such admirable intellect and knowledge, a creative filmmaker of genius, think he could get away with a monstrous lie, when even the real people (the non-actors) in his film (never mind the ‘vanished’ Armenians) are… Kurds, speaking Kurdish, which a Turkish speaking person would not understand (unless he knew Kurdish), as the two languages are so very different?

And why this strange masochism, this self-immolation, of wishing to destroy an otherwise a perfect piece of film-making?

Why turn from an internationalist Marxist to a racist nationalist Fascist – within the short span of a film?

Is it perhaps only to please the modern Turkish authorities that deny the Armenian ownership of those beautiful lands conceived by the Armenian Troubadours as paradise on earth?

PS. Let us not forget – and even ignorant fascist Armenians do in their understandable but unjustifiable blind hatred of all things Turkish – that Ata-turk himself, the ‘Father’ of the modern Turks, acknowledged the genocidal crime of the Young Turks by court-martialling their leaders in absentia, resulting in a Guilty verdict, condemning them to death.

The ridiculous Armenian Diaspora battle for a Turkish state-recognition of the genocide, was one of the cleverest Anglo-American conspiracies

(1) To re-write history, to exonerate their own guilt of reneging on the American President Wilson’s map of an independent Armenia including Anatolia,
(2) To trap and dissipate and waste Armenian intellectual power and financial resources that the Armenian Diaspora leaders in foolish love with all things Anglo-American fell into.

The Armenians must now stop convincing the world that the Turks deny the genocide and inform the world instead that their ‘mythical’ Father, the Great Ataturk himself left the water-tight State-legacy of Recognition – Law enough, and enough law, for overdue Reparations, not in hot-air money, but in Real Estate American style!!!!!!!

Let the super-wealthy American-Armenian Republican capitalists try to persuade their omnipotent President Bush they love so much, and his omniscient Condi Rice, to finally realize their truly great President Wilson’s map of historical Armenia, instead of killing a hundred thousand innocent Iraqis with (phosphorous) Poison Gas, dumdum bullets, cluster bombs – the whole bloody arsenal of illegal weaponry – only to line their mafia New Con gang pockets with Iraq’s Oil.

2 Comments:

At 3:58 AM, Blogger midINDIAN said...

it is a very helpful article for turkish film

 
At 12:31 AM, Blogger Maria said...

Nice! Let me introduce you big suit,you can use it in Turkish.

 

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