Category Archives: Turkey

Dry Summer (1963)

Director: Metin Erksan

Dry film, too. This film is known for having been an international success (Berlin Film Festival winner, actual US release—overseen by none other than David Durston, of all people—and Oscar nominee), and for having been buried at home almost immediately for the best part of half a century, on the grounds that, well, it was kind of sexy (there’s one scene of our villain perving on the female lead which is kind of eye-popping) and maybe a bit politically progressive (although the Masters of Cinema booklet essay by Phil Coldiron frets about it not being Marxist enough). What we have, basically, is a western of sorts set in what I presume was contemporary Turkey; the previously mentioned villain is the landowner, Osman, whose property contains a spring that irrigates his land and that of the surrounding village. When a particularly hot summer sets in and water is at a premium, he decides to dam up the spring so it only services him and not the neighbours. Needless to say, this goes badly with the latter, and things end in Osman shooting one of them, convincing his younger brother to be the fall guy for him while he stays free to tend the property… and the brother’s wife. This is all quite tedious, rendered with some admittedly striking visuals plus some irritatingly choppy story-telling and some really bad technical issues (bad dubbing and what looks like some very ill-advised sped-up motion at some points), plus some pointless animal cruelty, but the dullness of the characters is what sank it for me. The wife is quite nice, but the villagers are fucking hopeless, Osman is just a dreadful person without any evident charisma to make his sheer awfulness watchable, and the brother, Hasan, is not much better; he disagrees with Osman’s scheme but doesn’t really do much to oppose him cos he’s, frankly, kind of spineless. And that’s kind of the point, cos the end of the film is about him finally discovering that backbone, but it’s a bit late by then. Not feeling the love for this one at all.

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Turkish Star Wars (1982)

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the release of Star Wars. And any dickhead could mark the occasion by watching that. It takes a special dickhead to watch Turkish Star Wars instead. And I need to apologise to Jess Franco. Though I criticised him, and I still think rightly, for using b/w stock footage in his colour production The Castle of Fu Manchu, the cack-handed deployment of stock footage in this film makes Franco look like Sergei Eisenstein by comparison. The Man Who Saved the World (as the film’s Turkish title more properly translates) got the Turkish Star Wars tag for its… bold use of footage from that George Lucas epic, although in truth it’s a mild misnomer as the film has bugger all to do with Star Wars really; with its liberal use of music from another film, it might as easily have been called Raiders of the Lost Brain. This would actually tie in with at least one aspect of the plot, as well as describing the overall feeling of watching the damn thing. I found it on archive.org here, and though the print is unsubtitled it actually doesn’t matter; I didn’t think it’d make any more sense were it in a language I actually speak, and I was probably right. This poor bastard (who got a subtitled copy) goes through the entire thing so I at least know what’s happening in the film, which, I hasten to add, is not the same as actually understanding it. There are still debates over whether it was deliberately bad or the seriously intended work of someone who had no idea what they were doing, and I suspect the latter is more likely. I’m sure it’s something you need to see once if you claim to be interested in cult movies, though I’m not sure if my sense of irony just didn’t extend far enough or whether I just needed to be fucked up on drugs/alcohol in a way I can’t manage any more…