UPPING THE STAKES – Turkey's brief fling with eroticism
By Jimmy Trash
I've already documented the conditions under which cosmopolitan Turks enjoyed a decade of liberty and moral relaxation in the 70s in my article on the Transgender Diva Bulent Ersoy. This flirtation with the West not only opened Turkish audiences to European, Japanese and American film and made cinemagoing a very fashionable pastime, but also gave rise to "Yeşilçam" (Green Pine), the street of studios responsible for the production of Turkey's now-notorious B movie scene. This genre has been given the international attention it deserves in documentaries such as the amazing “Remake, Remix, Rip-Off”. However there is another part of the Yeşilçam tradition not so delved into – the history and consequences of the addition of eroticism to the roster of movies being pumped out of Turkeywood.
Seen as a way to stay competitive with the racey and nudity stricken Western cinema that was playing in the Turkish houses, Yeşilçam started to include nudity and sex scenes in all genres of films already being made, as well as adopting a style of erotic comedy influenced by the Italian version of blue movies flooding over the borders. 1974's “Beş Tavuk Bir Horoz” [5 Chickens and a Rooster] starring the stunning and ill-fated Mine Mutlu (who had to retire after her fan club became to ravenous and demanding) was the first smash erotic comedy and was mainstream enough to brand a line of Turkish fashion after the title.
To talk of the colorful history of Turkish erotic cinema it is unfortunately impossible to drop the theme of sexual politics from the start or else we won't get passed the first lines of discussion. The movies were unapologetically sexist, and without the redeeming charm which allowed French and Italian movies of the same time to occasionally get away with it. There exists none of Jean Rollins' strong and vengeful vampiric female characters and no man-killing girl-sucking “Ilsa” characters to paint females as anything more than mean manipulators or passive victims. The naivety and hypocrisy in which the Turkish directors and public dealt with sexuality is most evident in the fact that women were not allowed into the cinemas where these films were shown – thus presenting a hidden image of the free and libidinous woman that the male audience so desperately craved but hiding her away from influencing the veiled and courteous women in the street.
However context is always needed in these historical reflections. Interviews with the people around during this time (courtesy of the mighty http://www.otekisinema.com) suggest that the misogyny of the film's themes (which also has to be accepted were in cinema the world over in this decade) were not reflected on the film set. Legendary director Yilmaz Atadeniz respected and admired the actresses, stating “it is important to realise that women in Turkish cinema suffered from the burden of thier work. They risked their health for scenes and showed great devotion ... in freezing weather they entered water, they performed love scenes naked, outdoors on sharp rocks ...”
Behçet Nacar, the Turkish Tom Selleck and heart throb of many films of this decade, also said that in sex scenes flesh coloured underwear was commonly used, men were not permitted to look directly at bared breasts on film, and usually in harder scenes, anyone not necessary for the shooting left the studio while the nudity was filmed.
All of the tricks used in regular Yeşilçam B-movies were employed in the erotic movies. Small snippets of hardcore European pornography were edited into sex scenes and cuttings from pornographic calenders were used in the film posters, which was later held as evidence in court to shut down Yeşilçam. Expensive and sexy scenes were filmed with the imagination that the shoots were not to be used exclusively for the film being made at the moment, so actresses seduced from the regular film sets to do one-off erotic scenes found their footage being used in films later down the track.
The amount of actresses brave and spirited enough to become stars of this genre were very few, as it did require a lot of stamina to perform this role over and over again, mentally and physically. Those who became big names were not only incredibly impressive actresses, able to portray authentic displays in the limited roles of their films, but tough women who dealt with the social consequences of their choices. The most renown was the awe-inspiring Zerrin Egeliler, who had the sexiness and character that one is most used to seeing in Russ Meyer's movies. She also could boast the most scope of any actor, male or female, in the Yeşilçam circuit: she had portrayed a curious peasant's daughter, a seducer, serious dramatic roles, a fiery maid, a cheat, a transexual, a club madame; however, still most often, she played a prostitute.
Another notable mention in this list of incredible female actors is the rampaging Feri Cansel – a Turkish Cypriot who grew up with a London art education before moving to Istanbul and marrying her building's janitor for a visa and working as a stripper. She was known as the “Emmanuelle of Kasinpasa”, an area know for it local habitual use of bad language and was a stunning presence in her movies. Her fiery mouth was last thing anyone heard from her when in 1983 she was killed by her fiance after a fight...
After the military coup d'état in 1980 most female actors of erotic movies were blacklisted from acting (and Yeşilçam was anyway dismantled entirely with a lack of funds and court cases for indecency) and either ran away to smaller cities for a quieter life as the more conservative era of Turkey commenced, or started careers in caberet or music.
"This short documentary about cheap Turkish pop movies of the 1960s-80s is required viewing if you get the DVD featuring "Tarkan and the Blood of the Vikings" and "The Deathless Devil". It's the special feature and it explains the context for these two god-awful but highly entertaining films.
The story of these grade-z films from Turkey is given through the use of narration, film clips and interviews with actors of this bygone age. It gives a lot of information, though it is by no means thorough or chronological. It's more a film made for fans--not film scholars, though I wonder if most film scholars would admit to enjoying these sort of silly escapist films." -plaktonrules, IMDB.com
Altin Cocuk (Turkish James Bond) Vahşi Kan (Turkish First Blood) Kara Simsek (Turkish Rocky) Ölüme son Adim (Turkish Mad Max) Seytan (Turkish Exorcist) Çöl (Turkish Jaws) Homodi (Turkish E.T. 2) Cellat (Turkish Death Wish) Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde (Turkish Wizard of Oz) Yarasa Adam (Turkish Batman)
Oil wrestling (Turkish: yağlı güreş), also called grease wrestling, is the Turkish national sport. It is so called because the wrestlers douse themselves with olive oil. It is related to the Uzbeki kurash, Tuvan khuresh and Tatar köräş. The wrestlers, known as pehlivan (Persian: پهلوان meaning "hero" or "champion") wear a type of hand-stitched lederhosen called a kisbet (sometimes kispet), which is traditionally made of water buffalo hide, and most recently has been made of calfskin.
Unlike Olympic wrestling, oil wrestling matches may be won by achieving an effective hold of the kisbet. Thus, the pehlivan aims to control his opponent by putting his arm through the latter's kisbet. To win by this move is called paça kazık. Originally, matches had no set duration and could go on for one or two days until one man was able to establish his superiority, but in 1975 the duration was capped at 40 minutes for the baspehlivan and 30 minutes for the pehlivan category. If there is no winner, play continues for another 15 minutes—10 minutes for the pehlivan category, wherein scores are kept to determine the victor.
The annual Kırkpınar tournament, held in Edirne in Turkish Thrace since 1362, is the oldest continuously running, sanctioned sporting competition in the world. Oil wrestling festivals also take place in northern Greece in the Eastern Macedonia (Serres region) and West Thrace(Rhodope Mountains). In recent years, this style of wrestling has also become popular in other countries, particularly the Netherlands and Japan.
Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (The Man Who Saves the World) is a 1982 Turkish-made adventure movie commonly known as Turkish Star Wars because of its notorious use of unauthorized footage from Star Wars worked into the film.
Directed by Çetin İnanç and written by Cüneyt Arkın, a well-known Turkish actor whose works span the last five decades, the film also starred Arkın in the leading role. Other actors include Aytekin Akkaya who later starred in the Italian film Sopravvissuti della città morta, as well as Hüseyin Peyda and Füsun Uçar both of whom remained in Turkey.
The film follows the adventures of Murat (Arkın) and Ali (Akkaya), whose spaceships crash on a desert planet following a battle, shown by using footage from Star Wars as well as Soviet and American space program newsreel clips. While hiking across the desert, they speculate that the planet is inhabited only by women. Murat does his"wolf whistle", which he uses on attractive women. However, he blows the wrong whistle and they are attacked by skeletons on horseback, which they defeat in hand-to-hand combat. The main villain soon shows up and captures the heroes, bringing them to his gladiatorial arena so they can fight. The villain tells them he is actually from Earth and is a 1,000 year old wizard. He tried to defeat Earth, but was always repelled by a shield of concentrated human brain molecules, which looks like the Death Star from Star Wars. The only way he can bypass this impenetrable defense is to use a human brain against it. The heroes escape and hide in a cave full of refugees who already fled villain's tyrannical rule. Murat develops a romantic connection with the only woman there (Uçar), who looks after the children (the romance is shown through many long eye-contacts and nothing more). Zombies of the dark lord attack the cave and turn several of the children into zombies. The three then flee the cave and find a local bar, lifted directly from Star Wars (the Mos Eisley Cantina). The two men quickly start a bar brawl, but the villain suddenly appears and captures them again.
The wizard separates the men and tries to convince them to join him. He sends his queen to seduce Ali, while he orders Murat to be brought before him. He offers Murat the chance to rule over the earth and stars if he joins him. He possesses the power of Earth's ancestry in the form of a golden brain, and all he needs to conquer Earth is a real human brain. After Murat declines, the wizard shows that he has the woman and children in captivity. Enraged, Murat fights the wizard's monsters and skeleton guardians. The noise causes Ali to abandon the queen and join the fight. They are disabled by laser-armed guards and are unsuccessfully tortured by the wizard. Finally, the wizard pits Murat against a giant monster in the arena. Murat defeats the monster and flees, taking the woman and the child with him. Ali is left in captivity.
Murat finds out about a sword made by "the 13th clan," who melted a mountain thousands of "space years" ago. Murat later finds this sword, shaped like a lightning bolt, in a cave defended by two golden ninjas. He quickly dispatches the guards and takes the sword. Renewed by the sword's power, Murat goes to free his friend from the sorcerer's dungeon. Unfortunately, Ali is killed during the rescue.
Grief-stricken, Murat decides to melt down his golden sword and the golden human brain and forge them into a pair of gauntlets and boots. Girded with magical gloves and super-jumping boots, he searches for the sorcerer to avenge his friend's death. After fighting monsters and skeletons, he comes face-to-face with his nemesis and karate chops him in half. The film ends with a speech about the human brain being the strongest weapon in the universe.
The musical soundtrack is entirely lifted from popular hit movies. The main theme used is "The Raiders March", composed by John Williams, from the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Other scenes incorporated the music of Moonraker, Ben-Hur, Flash Gordon, Giorgio Moroder's version of Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes, Silent Running and Disney's The Black Hole. In the scene where Cüneyt Arkın and Aytekin Akkaya find the graves of old civilizations, the director selected J.S Bach's Toccata to play.
Network Awesome - Thu, Mar 3 Turkish hijinks! Check the Erotic films!