Friday, 15 March 2013

Dunyayi kurtaran adam / Turkish Star Wars

As Pete Tombs mentions in his book Mondo Macabro a group of French Situationists once took a martial arts film, marketed as Crush Karate, and performed a detournement upon it, changing its title to Can Dialectics Break Bricks?

This comes to mind because Dunyayi kurtaran adam – literally The Man who Saved the World, apparently– has, as its colloquial name of Turkish Star Wars, would suggest qualities that seem almost to be those of an unconscious detouernement of its better known counterpart.

While not an expert on Turkish popular cinema by any means, a few common factors have emerged in the films that I have seen, these generally being the ones that seek to imitate a Hollywood or other foreign success and rework it for the Turkish market.

First, Islam tends to play a more significant role. This makes sense in a film like The Turkish Exorcist, but seems out of place here as a substitute for Star Wars’ force.

Second, there is absolutely no shame in lifting footage or music from the source film or films – a factor that likely explains why Turkish Star Wars will never appear on a legitimate DVD release in the US or UK even if it were to be called Not Star Wars: A Turkish Parody in the manner of the tedious deluge of Not [insert name of intellectual property here]: An XXX Parody that US porn producers have inflicted upon us in the past few years.

Holy intellectual property law Batman!

Third, the Turkish films tend to be more violent than their foreign models. Here, for instance, there are various shots of people getting a mace or a spear in the face and another of a boy having his head being crushed by a robot.

The gore is, however, difficult to take seriously simply because it is so inept and comic-book/cartoon like in style.

This brings us on to a fourth difference, the one that relates most strongly to the detournement idea: the use that the filmmakers make of their appropriated footage and what they film themselves is just so at odds with European and North American stylistic norms as to appear inept.

A one-two of initial cheap shots occurs during the credits through the Musak type theme and the presence of two men with the unfortunate sounding forename of Kunt. Yes, this is a Kunt Film.

After just under two minutes of names scrolling upwards on a black screen in a reasonable no-budget version of Star Wars the action proper begins. Or, rather, an assemblage of footage of a rocket launch, the X-Wing crews preparing for the battle of Yavin, their Imperial counterparts on the Death Star and a voice-off that, over the course of two-and-a-half-minutes explains what is going on – if, that is, you speak Turkish. As the version I watched this time did not have subtitles, I could only go by memory and how it made a lot of religious references.

Then, at the four minute 30 second mark we are introduced to our two protagonists, both pilots of one of the various spacecraft seen flying about during the voice-off. Here we can see that the filmmakers have used back-projection to interpolate them in the place of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and so on. Unfortunately they also play some of the back-projected footage the wrong way and generally show such a lack of awareness of the  rules of continuity editing that we cannot follow the battle nor determine which of the various spacecraft are being flown by our heroes.

While this is going on we are also introduced to the main antagonist. Here the filmmakers actually shoot some new footag eof their own, showing a cut-price Darth Vader alike and his various goons in their lair, one that looks more like the cavern-like interiors of the Mos Eisley cantina than the antiseptic ones of the Death Star.

Our two heroes than crash land on a planet. The landscape here is reasonably effectivve as an alien world, though the filmmakers then ruin the mood by showing the Sphinx, pyramids and a selection of hieroglyphs alongside reintroducing the voice-of-god narrator, making it seem that we have wandered into a Chariots of the Gods type documentary. At this point the musical accompaniment also switches to the portentous horror-movie tones of Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue.

This proves, shortly afterwards, to be the cue for the introduction of a half dozen figures on horseback, They are either skeletons, in the manner of the Blind Dead, or merely men with skeleton designs, in the manner of the Marsh Phantoms of Captain Clegg.

Whatever the case, they are hostile and charging at our heroes. This leads to a long melee sequence in which our heroes prove adept at martial arts, while the filmmakers again illustrate their ineptitude by making it appear more as if the protagonists have been attacked by 20 or 30 riders. Taking two horses, they gallop to the accompaniment of the Indiana Jones theme. This is intercut with monsters jumping out in extreme close-up before us; exactly where these monsters are in relation to the two riders is unclear.

The men’s horses are then shot out from under them by some Cylon-B-grade robots and taken to a cliff-front settlement where the villains are torturing and murdering the locals, including the aforementioned head-crushing robot. On seeing this our heroes break free of their bonds and proceed to use their martial arts skills, as the Indiana Jones theme is again played.

Though suffering some injuries at the hands of the villains, they manage to drive them off and then have their wounds tended by a village woman. The playing of the Indiana Jones love theme and a shot-reverse-shot pattern of close-ups indicates an attraction between the woman and one of the men.

Love springs eternal, even in an unintentionally surreal Turkish Trash Masterpiece...

All this is only in the first twenty-odd minutes of the film. It runs an-hour-and-a-half.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm still laughing and it hurts.