Friday, May 06, 2005

Ten Best Turkish Film | Herd (1979) by Zeki Okten

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Directed by Zeki Okten
Cast: Tarik Akan, Melike Demirag, Tuncel Kurtiz, Meral Niron, Yaman Okay
1979, 125 minutes

Festivals and Awards:
Otto Dibelius Film Award; OCIC Award, Berlin Film Festival ; Golden Leopard, Best Actress Awards, Locarno Film Festival; Most Original and Imaginative Film, London Film Festival; Grand Prize, Antwerp Film Festival; Grand Prize, Valencia Film Festival; Belgian Film Critics' Award

Synopsis: The Herd (Sürü) sweeps you off your feet.. Like a tempest raging from the heart of East Anatolia, a mighty gust of wind.. Like an anguished scream.. Like an unbridled symphony.. Here is a piece of cinema that contends with every shape and form of resistance, prejudice and judgment, censure, philosophical uncertainty and rhetorical debate and does so with remarkable maturity..

The Herd unfolds on several quite different levels. It is a richly textured film that contains a multiplicity of themes; one that demands a multiplicity of approaches… Where to begin? The most important aspect of the film is the richness it derives from a masterful script. Yilmaz Güney (the writer, poet and astute observer of his country and people) has interwoven the story of Berivan and Sivan with extraordinary riches… Next to the one-dimensional, mechanical story-lines that too often characterize Turkish cinema this is a masterpiece of richness!...
The outstanding and most consequential character of the story/film is undoubtedly Hamo Aga. The ageing Kurdish chief is disagreeable, brutal, intolerant, callous throughout the film, but these traits are less the product of his psychological make-up than triggered by economic factors. Hamo senses that the familiar order is being shaken, that the ground is being swept away from under his feet… He strives to halt the process, to retain command of events (as he used to). His desperate endeavour turns him into a tyrant, an offensive and merciless individual. Hamo's 'evil' persona takes on fresh significance, symbolic value and new dimensions…

With its literary framework and cinematic flair, its powerful narration and liberal use of local colour, tents, dress, song and instrumentation, The Herd attains a startling, jarring quality of epic proportions. It is a fundamentally intelligent film that sets forth a solid dialectic; a film that frames its popular, visual and cinematic appeal in an irresistibly engaging epic structure… It is the product of a team effort, where every member of the team has excelled, from Güney the screenwriter to Zeki Ökten the director; from DoP Izzet Akay to musician Zülfü Livaneli; from the accomplished leads, Tarik Akan, Melike Demirag and Tuncel Kurtiz, to the secondary roles… There is no doubt that The Herd will enjoy a more enduring presence than Turkish cinema, that it will continue to impress audiences, to be talked about and discussed for many years to come…

Atilla Dorsay - An extract from his book, 'The Yilmaz Güney Book

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