Fantastic in Turkish Cinema

Once, the Turkish cinema as a whole was practically considered an “unknown” territory, only accessible to some specialized scholars or film historians. Then starting from the 80’s and thanks, mainly, to the works of director, screenwriter and actor Yılmaz Güney it gained world wide recognition and started participating in international film festivals collecting awards and recognitions. actually the Turkish cinema has gained a place in its own right among Europe’s national cinemas expanding it’s boundaries and getting attention through the works and arcievements of a brand new generation of talented cinematographers. Still there are a lot of things to be discovered in its 93 years old history (1914-2007).

The aim of this web site is present and investigate the “FANTASTIC TURKISH CİNEMA” under the title MASKE & YUMRUK (MASK & FIST) in its various aspects and examine its “genres” ranging from the Fairy Tale to Science Fiction, from Epic Fantasies to Weird Action films, from Super Heroes to Turkish Crazy Westerns. It must be underlined in its own right or researched on an historical basis. Obviously most of the films considered in this context are not “arthouse” films, the majority of them pertains to “B” movie category or double-bills. Nevertheless they remain a part of the industry and exist as surprising manifestations of “popular cinema” at its best or at its worst. Some of the feature films mentioned are actually available abroad, both in Europe and the United States on video casettes, some are already familiar to “B” movie buffs in fact from time to have been reviewed in video magazines or fanzines but the majority is yet to be discovered. Thus the aim of this web site (like Fantastic Turkish Cinema book by Giovanni Scognamillo and Metin Demirhan) is to lead the way for such a discovery and to recreate a world almost forgotten.

*Dişi Kilink / Female Kilink (Aram Gülyüz-1967)

Fantastic enters to Turkish cinema in the late 40’s, early 50’s and like most beginnings, everything starts with a thrilling twilight horror movie called Çığlık / Scream (Aydın Arakon-1949). Çığlık tells a story about a man who getting mad in an old dark house. Four years after from the unsuccesful Çığlık, comes a fairy tale called Balıkçı Güzeli:Binikinci Gece / The Handsome Fisherman: 1002nd Night directed by Baha Gelenbevi. The story is set around a dashing hero, an alluring Princess, an evil witch and a seemingly carnivoroud giant spider. In 1964 it’s the turn of the Forty Thieves and their magical cavern in Cilalı İbo ve Kırk Haramiler / Shoeshiner İbo and the Forty Thieves starring popular comedian Feridun Karakaya as Ali baba under the direction of Mehmet Dinler. And while Keloğlan / The Bald Boy (Yavuz Yalınkılıç-1965) bring a well-known folk hero to the white screen. Bağdat Hırsızı / The Thief of Baghdad (Ertem Göreç-1968) remains an uninspired adaptation of classic theme.

The Fairy Tale moviereaches its peak is 1970 with Ertem Göreç directing the first adaptation of the Grimm Brother’s famous tale Pamuk Prenses ve Yedi Cüceler / Snow White and Seven Dwarves. Though heavily inspired by Walt Disney’s feature lenght cartoon film (1937) the film is well done and it becomes an instant hit which opens the way to several similar pictures; Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde /Little Ayşe and the Magical Dwarves in the Land of Dreams (Tunç Başaran-1971) adapted from Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz / Oz Büyücüsü (1939) stars the Seven Dwarves from the previous movie who by now have become very popular; Ali Baba ve Kırk Haramiler / Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (O. Nuri Ergün-19710) with star comedian Sadri Alışık; Binbir Gece Masalları / The Arabian Nights: Tales of the 1001 Nights (Ertem Göreç-1971) as well as two seperate adaptations realized the same year, of Charles Perraults “Cinderella” respectivelly tittled Saraylar Meleği / The Angel of Palaces (Aram Gülyüz-1971) and Sinderella / Cinderella (Süreyya Duru-1971).

Things change radically with Halit Refiğ’s Adsız Cengâver / The Warrior Without a Name (1970).The film features special effects by the Rank Studios in London, here fantastic themes of eastern and western folklore blend in an action tale featuring an enchanted sword, a giant coming out of an old lamp, a magical tapestry, a witch transforming men into statues, a fire pit and many other attractions. With several episodes of Keloğlan / The Bald Boy films, we are back to Turkish folklore traditions. The hero both naive and smart is played by Rüştü Asyalı. In successive adventures our hero saves a princess (Keloğlan / The Bald Boy, Süreyya Duru-1971), goes to the city in a modified storyline to the 70’s (Keloğlan Aramızda / The Bald Boy Among Us, Sırrı Gültekin-1971) meets the Seven Dwarves (Keloğlan ve Yedi Cüceler /The Bald Boy and the Seven Dwarves, Semih Evin-1971), tries to become a fearless warrior (Keloğlan ile Can Kız / The Bald Boy with the Sweet Girl, Metin Erksan-1972), confrontsa witch queen ( Ben Bir Garip Keloğlanım / I’m a Strange Bald Boy, Süreyya Duru-1976).

By the end of the 70’s the era of the Fairy Tales closed and in recent years the only example from this genre is director and well known as a composer also singer Zülfü Livaneli’s own rendition of Şahmaran (1993) in wich the snake queen (half a beautiful woman half snake like mermaids) has been transformed to a smuggler woman living in the old byzantine ruins.

*Demir Pençe: Korsan Adam / Iron Claw: Pirate Man (Çetin İnanç-1969)

*Demir Pençe: Korsan Adam / Iron Claw: Pirate Man (Çetin İnanç-1969)

*Altın Tabancalı Ajan / The Spy with the Golden Gun (Çetin İnanç-1970)

Yazar hakkında: Murat Tolga Şen

Çocukluğu Samsun'da eniştesinin müdürü olduğu sinemada film izleyerek, film parçalarına oyuncak merceğinde bakarak geçti. 2005 yılının sonunda "Öteki Sinema" yı kurdu. Beyazperde, Cinedergi ve Medyaradar'da yazıyor. Motor, yelken ve fotoğraf tutkunu... Film izlemeyi ve filmler hakkında yazmayı herşeyden daha çok seviyor.

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