A powerful Turkish cinematic condemnation of state-organized genocide
- KurdishMedia.com - By Professor Hovhannes I. Pilikian
- 24/01/2012 00:00:00
Film-Review; Gelecek Uzun Surer (2011/Turkey)/ The Future Lasts Forever, Written and directed by Ozcan Alper
British Gala Night; 24th January, 2011, 7.30 pm. At the Cineworld, Wood Green, London.
Someone high-up at the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism must be an enlightened Soul and more of a Democrat than any of the Eurocrats, having subsidized this film by Ozcan Alper. May that highly evolved Soul become a Prime Minster of a truly democratic Turkey one day, proud of its multi-ethnic constituents rather than the ridiculous ultra-nationalist mantra – “Proud is the Man who is a Turk” nonsense – sang throughout schools in Turkey under the portrait of an Ataturk framed with Crescent flags.
Whoever is that enlightened Soul, I hope he can free Zarakoglu and Leila Zana and many others from prison, and shield Turkish intellectuals from the evils of Article 301 of the criminal penal code, by abolishing it altogether from the forthcoming new Constitution of Turkey. I hope that the latter shall not be yet another political Ottoman-type trickery to genocide more people.
And, whatever you are up to, dear Reader, do not miss the first five minutes of this masterly film – As if in a live theatre, in the total darkness, a cock crows – a detail suggesting that we are in a village – dogs bark, cows moo, horses neigh, suddenly the unexpected sound of helicopters approaching, women and children shriek, bombs explode, machine-guns shoot, a horrible mixture of the sounds of war, the screen lights up with a most beautiful horse, racing for his life, his breathing cleverly amplified on the microphones (an excellent detail of a sensitive film-director), the target of the mortal hullabaloo, running away like a proud Kurdish peshmerga, a mountain guerilla fighter trying to survive an unfair battle with a US-equipped genocidal State-army. The Horse successfully avoids the first shot, but on the second he finally falls, blood down his beautiful belly, like a pregnant woman, struggles to get up to fight another day, but sadly it cannot because of a third shot from an invisible sniper, and gradually, slowly with his back turned to the viewer as if in deep shame that he could not survive, stretches his legs and dies like a Swan, like a Tchaikovsky-ballerina in a most beautiful breathtaking posture … the film-director has succeeded in a most remarkable way to instantly create an immediate emotional bond between his film and the viewer, something Anglo-Saxon film-directors have yet to learn to achieve in Hollywood!
Alper’s Horse is as much a classical symbol and the metaphor for human freedom. As my psychologist wife, Clare Pilikian confirms; you can lasso a wild horse to tame it, but kill it? Never! To kill a horse is the lowest point of barbarism and criminal depravity … only inhuman wretches of genocidal intent are capable of such an atrocity.
And you would not be wrong to presume as much, as during the film you will soon discover through the eyewitness accounts that such a genocidal crime was indeed committed by the Turkish army, during the 1990’s, under the very filthy noses of our Western imperialist governments tacitly encouraging the Turkish State, arming it to the teeth to wipe off 8 thousand Kurdish villages off the map of central Anatolia, once the lands of very ancient Armenia … where the horse was first ‘domesticated’ historically. Rock-carvings, archeological bones-evidence, backed by classical literary reference (Xenophon’s Anabasis) prove the existence of horse-cults in the Armenian Anatolian Highlands, precisely where the Kurdish horses are being slaughtered in this film today.
The greatest single obscenity of modern imperialist history is the fact that the Kurdish people, a huge majority of perhaps 60 million, spread through several countries of the Middle East, still lack a homeland.
The Ottoman Young Turks that attempted to genocide the Armenians in 1915 intended to do the same to the Kurds (they said so to Morgenthau, the American Ambassador in Ottoman Turkey), after abusing their unsophisticated, un-educated, illiterate tribal leaders to do their genocidal dirty job. The present-day enlightened Kurdish leadership (their Parliament-in-exile) has already apologized profusely and profoundly to the Armenian people for their earlier leaders’ ignorant participation in the Young Turk crime, having understood today that the Turkish state did finally come round to doing the same to them in our own days, when Kurds were arrested and tortured and killed in prisons for merely speaking Kurdish at home – Leila Zana, a Kurdish MP is back in prison today, having already been there for a decade previously … And the first national hero of the Kurds who could transcend tribalism and medieval Sharia laws against women, Abdullah Ocalan, who could bring total peace and democratic federalism to Turkey has been in solitary incarceration on the Imrali island in the Sea of Marmara since 1999 … hilariously, 1000 military personnel guard him – How more ridiculous the Turkish State-genocidal madness can be! Ocalan’s first Islamic name in Arabic means God’s slave, not Mr. Erdogan’s slave … unless of course the latter thinks he is Allah himself, which is not unlikely.
The Turkish State has this strange Sado-Masochist habit of killing their friends … it is what the Young Turk Leaders did to their Armenian Masonic bosom friends, ignoring and betraying their Masonic obligation to protect them at all costs from such violence! They killed Hrant Dink, their greatest Armenian friend trying to forge a brotherhood with the Turks! They made a song and dance for decades about Kurds being “Mountain Turks”, only to kill even their … horses! What if the Turks were … field-Kurds thus murdering their own brothers!
Sitting before a wall of thousands of passport-sized photographs of victims, the survivors tell the camera of their true experience of the Turkish soldiery invading their villages, separating men from women and children, and simply massacring them for absolutely no reason… when all alive are dead, they attack the stables, their horses!
The Turkish army would enter a Kurdish village; give the inhabitants an hour to desert their homes, before they burn down the lot, thus creating 4 million refugees of Kurds within their own homelands, anciently of Armenia.
In a blue-tinged documentary film within the film, you witness tanks with Polis (in Turkish) inscribed on them, stopping in a village, soldiers jumping out of their tank-holes with machine guns, tearing boys from their screaming mothers and beating them to a pulp before your very eyes! “By 1992, a way of killing people was found fit for Kurds, called murder by unknown assailants” … I could ‘see’ my very own maternal grandmother named Isgouhi (= the true one) Der-Arsenian (= of the Male God) sitting there with the same black scarf covering her head, looking like a raven, telling us how the Turkish gendarmes came to their village Khassgal-Izmit searching for … weapons. They dragged out her teenage sons, beat them mercilessly and pointlessly … My grandparents later had to buy some rusted gun-bits from some bashibozuks to hand them over to the Ottoman cut-throats in case they returned for future inspections.
And my grandmother Isgouhi Der -Arsenian used to sing those heart-breaking laments and lullabies, which did not sound like true lullabies, but more like goodbyes to the dead children … from murdered mothers – precisely what the Kurdish women do in this film in front of walls covered with a thousand faces …
And Sumru (played Oscar-winningly by Gaye Gursel), a shapely young university post-graduate from Istanbul, records them with shocked intensity, although she is a kind of Turk, and does not know Kurdish. She is shown with her boyfriend (Harun) on a bus full of Kurdish students amidst … Turkish Crescent-flags, but singing Vinceremos = we shall be victorious – and here is an unpredictable eye-catching detail – the students sing not sitting-down in the bus (as you would expect), but standing-up and applauding … it proves an original directorial mind at work.
Cut to a scene on a train, the window imprinted heavily with the nationalist Crescent silhouetted through a succession of mountainous landscapes and a lake (Van?) The Crescent finally disappears – we are traveling through (Armenian) Kurdistan – while Sumru reads a sweet sad letter from Harun informing her that he had to go … he knows he is not coming back because he will be killed – the violence of the state is always incomparably greater than that of the rebels – nevertheless, he hopes, just hopes against hope that perhaps … he’ll see her again one day, perhaps in another world, and signs “your lover from the Mountains”!
Sumru (whose name means Summit!) gets out at Diyarbakir, today the capital city of the non-existent Kurdistan, yesterday’s Tigranagert (= build by Tigran) the Great, the capital city built by the Armenian King whose empire in 180 BC stretched down to Palestine, from where King Tigran had transported a whole community of Jews to enliven with trade the very life of his brand-new city … The speakers announce that trains have arrived from Istanbul, Ankara and Malatya, establishing Diyarbakir as the multi-ethnic hub joining major sections of the Turkish map. Yet, the camera pulls back to show you a blue-uniformed Turkish policeman on the platform watching the crowds intently … Such telling details are abundant in this film – Alper, like all great creative artists, couples with his perfect grasp of the overall image, a masterly eye for the constituent detail.
Sumru reassures her mother by mobile that Diyarbakir is not as dangerous as the Istanbulis think it is … no bombs exploding in the streets, even though her own heart is shattered by the absence of her Kurdish boy-friend who had left her three years ago to join the PKK guerillas in the mountains. She has had no news from him since.
As if to avenge herself on the people, Sumru goes around with her tape-recorder documenting the sounds of the city, holding her high-tech microphones at waist-level pushing it forward like a small machine-gun startling the war-worn inhabitants … the city with its famous black basalt walls can suddenly throw up a Roman ruin still habitable. Sumru finds the film-maker Ahmet (played perfectly by Durukan Ordu), who fancies himself as the ‘Turkish’ Al Pacino, but instead has been documenting the eyewitness accounts of the current genocide his people are undergoing by the post-modern Turkish state. The Turkish state can deny the genocide of the Armenians in 1915 all they want, argue that it could have been a massacre – as if a massacre being less than a genocide were permissible … but surely, no sane person could deny that the Kurds today, on the watch of the Anglo-American imperialists are being massacred only and only for the sole reason of being … Kurds! If that is not genocide, then Turkey’s Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan is the … Vatican Pope – Hear ye, Dan Brown, a new international bestseller for thee about a crypto-Turk as a Catholic Pope, shot by an ASALA crypto-Armenian as a Mountain-Turk terrorist!
There is an intense attraction between Sumru and Ahmet, but the genocidal context of their relationship is such that the two can never develop any natural human warmth into any form of sexuality. This secondary theme of the film is developed so skillfully and sensitively as to be one of its most original aspects – the impossibility of love developing let alone blossoming, even though the desire is there all along haunting their every waking moment. I shall be seventy soon, and have seen a thousand films, but have not seen yet another film on the subject, tackled with such intense humanity, sadness and compassion for the young potential lovers.
Sumru decides to exorcise the ghost of her boyfriend, by a final search, and asks Ahmet touchingly to drive her to a very dangerous area of high genocidal activity. Ahmet refuses point blank. Sumru has even a telephone conversation with Ahmet to thank him for his intellectual help and to say goodbye. But a jump cut suddenly shows us an endless seeming road, a close up on Sumru as the passenger in the front seat, and finally a camera shift to the driver being … Ahmet. We now hear that Ahmet’s Dad was a truck-driver working on the roads to Iran, one of the countries that harbor a considerable population of Kurds (the film is dedicated to two Iranian film-makers in-prison). As a child, Ahmet had witnessed the death of his father shot from behind in the public square of their village – obviously another peshmerga-victim by unknown assailants…
More than a genocide-film – Lighting Lessons for film-industry
On his blue tinged TV screen, Ahmet had watched one of his archival films of a boat carrying a gigantic statue of Lenin … reclined – No Soviet sculptor would dare portray Lenin as anything but a stand-up god! Now, under the moonlight, unable to sleep, having just enjoyed the hospitality of a Kurdish peasant family, Ahmet and Sumru talk of their dreams for the future – through this dialogue, half-lit like a painting in dark-orange moonlight, the film-director suddenly effectively and affectively emotionally uplifts his film into the noble heights of humanity and dreamy Socialist compassion. No Hollywood film-director is capable of displaying such emotional-intellectual cinematic depth, imparting to the film further complexities of immense significance.
In Hollywood, believe it or not, they do not know yet how to light night-scenes … because they are concerned that their film-goers are so dumb as to want to see everything all the time on the screen. Turkish film-directors have no such inhibitions – they are not frightened of leaving dark-black sections in their night-time scenes – as in the lighting technique of the German Expressionist black-and-white Cinema. Thus the superbly beautiful, Rembrandt-esque creative lighting of pitch-black night-scenes in Turkish films contains lessons for the international film-industry. Alper’s night-scenes in this film are a case in point.
Ahmet dreams of a true-socialist future (the film’s title translated into English is The Future Lasts Forever), which he defines poetically as being able to ride his … bicycle one day with Sumru skirting the coastline of the Black Sea stretching through several countries and their borders, reaching the city of Varna, in Bulgaria … when people everywhere would work no more than 5 hours a day … something the British imperialists are desperate to destroy throughout the European community, adopting the Nazi ideal of raping populations to death by slave-work, to merely fatten the capitalist Fat Cat Bankers and swine! Alper’s film thus achieves instantly a universalism beyond its immediate theme of state-organized genocides.
O-ro-ro-tsa-yin – the Armenian Lullaby
The socialism-dreaming Ahmet drives Sumru at dawn to the local cemetery covered in snow and romantic mist (for which the climate in the Rize district of Hamshen is famous). Ahmet, in deep sensitivity gives Sumru space to look for Harun’s grave, while he like the mountain-Kurd that he is wanders off into the beautiful landscape. Sumru, skillfully underplayed by the actress, goes from grave to grave, almost (you feel palpably) hoping that she would not find it … and alas, alack unfortunately she suddenly hits upon it … a gradual sob bursts on her face, pulling her up and pushing her into the opposite direction Ahmet had taken … You know that their love shall be even more impossible now … a wild black horse on white snow wanders aimlessly …
And what a creative originality of conception; you would think that Harun’s now proven ‘disappearance’ would be the open door through which the potential lovers could find the happiness they deserved as a couple, so well-suited to one another … instead, even the potential of such a joy of future life is destroyed as a direct result of the ongoing genocide. On a long shot, the couple getting gradually more lost in the mountain fog and mist developing, the film soundtrack plays a most beautiful Armenian lullaby, accompanied on saz (recorded by Ludvig Durian, music by Khatchatur Avetissian) orchestrated with a haunting melisma (sang majestically by the Chamber Music Choir of Radio Yerevan), rendering the last five minutes of the film as un-missable as its first five minutes … and the gems in between.
And the greatest of these gems is the one, right in the mid-stream of the film-flow, transforming it into a most complex and skillfully constructed film-script of immense depth and historical significance – and here is how;
Sumru, whether by luck or by design, playing as intelligently ambiguous as possible, comes across the ruins of a dilapidated Armenian church, Sourp Giragos, Ermeni Kilisesi, Dyarbakir in the care of an old Armenian (played by Sarkis Seropyan, a colleague of the murdered Hrant Dink). His script-name Antranig in Armenian has several semantic referents, most importantly meaning the First-born … (here) of Anatolia.
The people of Turkey do know that the Armenians were the very first people in Anatolia, and they were there as late as in 1915, and they are still there as crypto-Turks, born of the thousands of the stolen young girls during the genocide … Talaat, the great genocider and the grand Vizier of the Young Turks wanted only a single Armenian left on this planet, to be skinned and stuffed as a Museum piece! Today, there are 10 million the world over, plus perhaps 3 million as crypto-Turks, the Turks of Hamshen all being such …
Antranig was also the famous guerilla commander, the Ocalan of the Armenian people fighting for survival. The bekji (= caretaker) Antranig of the Diyarbakir-church has daughters in Switzerland, but refuses to join them for a comfortable old age, and tells Sumru precisely what … Hrant Dink himself told me once in Istanbul explaining why, oblivious for his own personal safety, he would never leave Turkey; “anonts vosgornereh ais hoghin dag en” = their bones (implying the bones of our ancestors, let alone the massacred ones) are under this earth (buried in this land). The Turkish Deep-State made sure that Hrant Dink’s bones joins them!
Antranig says to Sumru in Turkish, “you look like our girls”. And in an absolutely masterly coup de theatre, the film-director suddenly lets Antranig ask in Armenian, “Haieren kidess? = Do you know Armenian?”, and Sumru answers in (I don’t know if you guessed it, yes!) in fluent … Armenian, to tell us that she is actually – a second lightening! – Hamshentsi … a crypto-Turkish Armenian.
The genius of this film-director shines brilliantly in the skill of inventing meaningful and conceptually original complexities with minimal means; suddenly, the present genocide attempted on the Kurds is superimposed on the genocide of the Armenians, the first-borns of Anatolia, of which the Armenian-speaking Hamshentsis are a living proof of the plan’s total failure. Genocides in history have never succeeded, and will never! The Kurds will have their country in the end. The pity of it is the waste of priceless human blood spilt, and precious human beings – god’s children all – swallowed up by Satan, the military junk-heads of this world.
There is a clever third strike of a cinematic lightening in the above scenes – Sumru pleads with Antranig to look for and find for her his mother’s recorded voice singing a mournful Elegy … Antranig is reluctant initially, but eventually, on Sumru’s third visit, plays the tape for her, on the porch, as rain falls heavily everywhere like the tears of all the Armenian and Kurdish mothers lamenting for their murdered children, while Antranig explains in Armenian that his own singing-mother was sacrificed during the 1915 chart … subtitled as genocide in English, the exact translation of which in Turkish would have been soykrim – the most dreaded and denied word of the post-modern Turkish state-vocabulary.
For this fact alone, this film can be regarded as the most aesthetically satisfying political art-film of the last two decades of world-cinema, which brings me to the beginning of the film, on a par with perhaps the greatest political film of all time, Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925).
Alper’s sequence on a par with Eisenstein’s
Its world famous sequence of sheer genius and total originality is the five minute sequence of The Odessa Steps; the Tsar’s soldiery, in their light white summer tunics march down seemingly endless stone-steps rhythmically, robotically, with their bayonets stuck out like their penises, massacring the revolutionary demonstrators … a jump cut on a close-up of a mother pushing a baby in a pram, falls to the ground shot dead. The pram then rolls down the steps into the scattering panicked crowd!
The incident historically never took place (although The Times of the day reported government firing on the demonstrators in the streets, never from the steps) – it was the unique invention of Eisenstein’s genius. The second’s appearance of the actress of Italian parentage, Beatrice Vitoldi made her so famous in the Soviet Union, that in 1931, she was appointed as the first Permanent Soviet Ambassador in Italy … Sadly she was recalled to Moscow in 1937, arrested and tried during Stalin’s Great Purge.
Alper’s horse-genocide sequence goes one better; although the scene is staged – I am certain no horse was killed for the filming – on a closer observation, one can detect a paucity of theatrical blood on the belly of the downed horse – in Hollywood they would have loved to have poured buckets of blood on the tranquillized animal!
Although Alper’s sequence is based on a factual story told by an eyewitness in the documentary section of the film, nevertheless the cinematic realization is entirely his own.
And finally, fully conscious of the new found pride of the Hamshentsi Turks in their Armenian parentage, I can insist that the film-maker’s surname Alper is a version of the Armenian word akhper = brother, very common in Eastern Armenian, in the neighborhood of Hamshen. His first name, Ozcan (in Turkish = pure blood, a shameful racist term), in form I think is the Armenian word Vorskan = Hunter. Thus, Ozcan Alper is the Turkicized Armenian Vorskan Akhper = Hunter-Brother, which is an extremely ancient character preserved in Armenian folklore, as a linguistic fossil denoting the pre-historical times of hunter-gatherers roaming the lands of Armenian Anatolian Highlands.
Armenian communities throughout the world should make an urgent effort to see this most beautiful, politically powerful, educationally visceral, aesthetically sensational great film in local cinemas – For all enquires to organize a local /community showing, see Contact below:
Caferaga Mah. Sarraf Ali Sok.
Kaan Apt. No:25 / 3
Kadikoy / IST / TR
T (+90) 216 418 42 06
F (+90) 216 336 26 34
- KurdishMedia.com - By Professor Hovhannes I. Pilikian
- 24/01/2012 00:00:00