Monday, 8 September 2008

Time and Winds (2006, Turkey, Reha Erdem)

The likes of Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Faith Akin have placed Turkish cinema on the map since the turn of the century. The likes of 'The Edge of Heaven' and 'Climates' have won prizes at major international film festivals and secured releases in the UK. 'Time and Winds' may have won two main prizes at the 2006 Istanbul Film Festival but that wouldn't normally be enough to gain a film recognition outside of its own borders. For two years, the film has received terrific word of mouth, never more so apparent than in the September issue of Sight and Sound. Where Erdem's film differs from the work of Ceylan and Akin is that it concentrates on the rural experience of Turkey as opposed to the modern Istanbul, but like the other films mentioned, 'Time and Winds' captures a Turkey torn between tradition and modernity and between religion and secularism.

Set in a poor village close to Izmir on the Western coast of Turkey, three children experience the plight of growing up - Omer (Ozkan Ozen), the son of the local Imam who harbours parricidal thoughts towards him, Yakup (Ali Bey Kayali), who has a crush on his teacher and is acutely aware of his father's humiliation by his grandfather, and Yildiz (Elit Iscan), who raises her younger sister much more than her mother ever does. These are children on the verge of becoming teenagers, thus they're experiencing the kind of emotional pressures that anyone at this age does. However this is a typical patriarchal community that exists in Muslim societies and respecting one's elders is an important feature of this community, even in adulthood (not that this is always implied to be a negative - the whole community works together to assist an elderly grandmother). Just look at how Yakup's father accepts his humiliation without complaint when his own father destroys a wall that he has built, a humiliation made worse by the fact that Yakup witnesses it and feels his own sense of pain. One theme that Erdem explores is that sons ultimately become like their fathers and despite Omer and Yakup's youthful defiance, it's easy to imagine that given the setup of the community they live in, that they might do so.

Utilising some gorgeous locations and scenery, Erdem creates a contemplative environment, where the three children spend their time pondering the community they live in and what they perceive the injustice of it. This rural beauty contrasts with the painful and difficult experiences of growing up, where there's always an impending sense of tragedy. Erdem's camera tracks and follows the children's movements to give an indication of their carefree lives outside the family home, but remains a static observer of life inside. Whilst I don't think it's the masterpiece that Sight and Sound's review and feature suggested, it is a fairly fascinating account of a part of Turkish society that doesn't feature so much in the cinema that reaches the West - the Muslim, patriarchal communities that exist outside of large cities. This to an extent reflects the contradiction modern Turkey faces. 3.5/5

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