Saturday, January 26, 2008
2008 | Ulak / messenger by Çağan Irmak
official web site of Ulak/messenger
Çağan Irmak’s long-awaited ‘Messenger’ finally hits the road
Director Çağan Irmak’s latest film “Ulak,” which opened this week in theaters across Turkey, follows Zekeriya, who travels from village to village to tell children stories about İbrahim, a “messenger.”
Finally, after all the curiosity we've experienced about what kind of film young Turkish director Çağan Irmak would give us following his successful "Babam ve Oğlum" (My Father and My Son), we receive news that his new "Ulak" (Messenger) has hit the silver screen.
Despite the fact that making films with only small breaks in between brings with it some obvious difficulties, after watching "Ulak," it was clear that director Irmak has not been spinning his wheels in this brief period between films.
It is completely normal that when people think of Irmak these days, the first thing to come to mind is his box office hit "Babam ve Oğlum." Almost all agree it was a film not easily forgotten. To those who thought this young director would continue on his path with similar styles, Irmak, with "Ulak," has begun to say something completely different to his audience. "Ulak" is the kind of film which, as you watch it, you'll start looking inside. It is as though, from the very beginning of the film to the end, you are wandering around in a fairy tale. But not just as an observer and a listener, rather, as though you are interacting with everything. It is a film that makes viewers ask themselves "is this real, or just a story?" over and over again, starting off somewhat like one of the stories your grandmothers and grandfathers might have told you when you were young. But as the film goes on, following the courier's specific tale, everything changes color suddenly. The screenplay for "Ulak," which has been well hidden until now, brings forth with it echoes of words we used to hear from our uncle, the storyteller: "Like all good tales, our story today begins with the name of our Creator..."
The person who we enter into this journey with is none other than Zekeriya, the traveler. Everywhere he goes Zekeriya gathers all the children around him to tell them stories about İbrahim, a "courier" or "messenger." (This is where the film gets its title from.) Zekeriya's goal is that everyone should know the stories connected with this enigma of a messenger. But this old man is no ordinary storyteller. When he tells his tales, he wants to enliven every aspect of the minds of the children he is talking to -- to the point that, no matter whether good or bad, his tales become unforgettable. And this "Messenger İbrahim" is in fact a symbol of courage. He is someone who can elicit the untapped sense of action just sitting and waiting in some people. Maybe he is an idol smasher or maybe a revolutionary. Whatever İbrahim is, as Zekeriya tells his stories, the pain in his own heart becomes lighter. But it is in the final village that Zekeriya stops in that the color of the story starts to change a bit. This village is a spot that seems literally damned, as though the sins surrounding it have washed over it wave after wave. Those listening to Zekeriya's stories here begin to believe that "Messenger İbrahim" will definitely one day come there and that, as such, there will be no more hidden sins in this village.
Perhaps Irmak is trying to tell a story from centuries of years ago with this film. Or perhaps this is a story from these days. But whatever the time frame, the message contained in the story is applicable to yesterday, today and even tomorrow. Maybe the film is an attempt to reach tomorrow using the language of yesterday. In any case, the actors are different but the roles are the same. The director underscores the necessity of people like İbrahim in today's world, with all its vulgarities. As we mentioned from the start, "Ulak" is not a film that can be compared to "Babam ve Oğlum." Some moviegoers might be disappointed by this, but for those interested in what Irmak has to say, it is still a film worth seeing. While cinematographer Mirsad Herovic captures scenes as beautifully as he did in "Babam and Oğlum," Evanthia Reboutsika's musical score adds incredible sounds and action to the visuals. Hümeyra, Şerif Sezer and Yetkin Dikinciler, as well as all the younger stars of this film, deliver great performances while Çetin Tekindor in the role of Zekeriya is quite unforgettable.