Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kurtlar Vadisi- Filistin (VALLEY OF THE WOLVES- PALESTINE) as Subversion?

KURTLAR VADISI- FILLISTIN is a 2011 Turkish film adapted from a popular television serial akin to 24 or MIAMI VICE, the story of a special commando team who launch a covert mission to assassinate the leader of a deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza in the film's opening.  Along the way, the team picks up an American tour guide who learns to differentiate her Judaism from Zionism and comes to embrace the Palestinian struggle before the final battle in the film's climactic half hour.
In many ways, this is a typical action-shoot-em-up film, with stock character tropes and pathos bordering on the melodramatic.  Make no mistake, this is not a Michel Khliefi film.  Instead, it strives to be a legitimate, professional-looking film akin to THE BOURNE IDENTITY or the films of Jerry Bruckheimer, using lighting, camera, and cinematography norms from films like BLACK HAWK DOWN (including a scene with a helicopter that seems to borrow from the earlier film) to create a wholly secular but pro-Palestinian film, one which differentiates Judaism from Zionism, patriotism from theocracy, and legality from illegality, always operating in a zone based around notions of justice derived from Turkish society.
I am reminded of the series of 'red westerns' made in East Germany, such as APACHEN from 1973, a film which tells a Western adventure story from the eyes of the Apache and serves as a sort of precursor to films like DANCES WITH WOLVES.  However, even though that film, along with KURTLAR, does take the norms of classical Hollywood cinema and subverts them to the alternative ideology, idealizing the previously-marginalized Other, it is done in a fashion to to replace one ideology with that of the dominant beliefs of the society which produced it.  In the case of APACHEN, the rather mechanical view of Euro-American inter-relations are imposed on the narrative, replacing reality with notions taken from Engels, Lenin, and Stalin rather than true narrative histories.  In KURTLAR, there is a scene where the older Palestinian mother lectures the American girl for using contraception, tying the use of birth control to the intentional negation and de-legitimization of female sexuality, that communicates a decidedly Turkish patriarchal norm in a fashion which is deceptively simple yet explicitly reactionary in regards to certain secular norms in that society.  And that is the real point to identify as the film's weak spot; just as Soviet logic in narrative ultimately undermined almost all film from the 1970's and '80's, most notably ANDREI RUBLEV, so to does the dominant ideology undermine the notions of justice that the film seeks to dramatize.  The film refuses to go into the realm of true emancipation, that is, abolition of both the Israeli and Palestinian states in the name of bi-nationalism, as Udi Aloni suggests in his work.

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