Thursday, June 18, 2009

Susuz Yaz

Susuz Yaz, 1964
Dir: Metin Erksan
June 17, 2009
The Auteurs

So I found The Auteurs just cruisin' around the web, and it's a pretty awesome site. It seems to be up with the help of Martin Scorcese, and it's just seems like a cool place to go to talk about and watch films. Most of the films that they have uploaded you have to pay to watch (like $5), but there are some free ones too, like Susuz Yaz (Dry Summer), the film of the month (June).

Woah. I only watched this because I had nothing else to watch last night, and this film just blew my gaskets. It is a tightly directed, tightly acted and supremely disturbing Turkish tale of water; the way that people interact because of it and what it will drive some people to do. Two brothers, Osman and Hasan, own the land where a water source starts and it run down to let the rest of the village irragate from. Osman, the older bother, is miserly, and during a dry summer, decides to dam the water to keep it for themselves. Hasan has doubts about this, but defers to his older brother. This of course causes huge uproar in the village, and after multiple rulings, "justice" sides with Osman. One night, two villagers come and blow up the dam. Osman and Hasan chase them away, but Osman decides shooting at them it a good idea, and kills one of the men. At their trial, Osman gets Hasan to take the blame, telling him that he will be able to take care of their lands better because he is older and wiser. So Hasan goes to jail and Osman heads back to their land.

Not only is Osman niggardly, he is also one of the all time cinematic creepshows I have ever seen. Hasan gets married at the beginning of the film to the beautiful Bahar, and Osman frequently watches them make out/movie hump through a crack in the wall. He also stares at her constantly, even when Hasan is around, and is overtly sexual toward her all the time. After the jailing, things obviously get worse. If you thought the staring was bad, how about sucking on the utter of a cow while rubbing it's flank, all while staring at a horrified Bahar. What the fuuuuuuuuck! So this was supposed to turn her on, I guess? Osman is deviant central, that's for sure.

Osman hears in town one day that a Hasan has died in jail, and he decides to take that as his brother, not really caring if it is or not. He tells Bahar this, and she obviously takes it badly. Osman decides to make his move, but he still has doubts about his ability to win her. He practices his betrothal by putting a head scarf on a scarecrow, and wooing it. God damn. This guy is just the worst. He then goes on to forcibly make out with her. From there on she becomes much more vocal in her contempt of him, and even hides and throws fruit at him.

The Turkish government is however in a forgiving mood and decides to pardon some prisoners, Hasan being one of them. Word reaches him of what Osman has done and he makes his way back home. Osman prepares for the coming showdown by having target practice on the scarecrow. Osman, obviously gets his just desserts, and Hasan and Behar take over the land.

While the story of family betrayal and spousal lust drives the story forward, the backbone of the film is water and violence. And seriously, like Chinatown, I don't think you can make a film about water without it being weird as hell. The villagers are obviously pissed off about Osman's hoarding and the decision to let him keep the dam up. In retribution for this, one of the villagers kills his dog. You actually see this on film, and it fucked me up. They killed a fucking dog! It whimpers and shakes on the ground, and there is very little chance that it was not real. Jeebus Christ, I'm still thinking about it. The violence against Osman escalates to the point where a number of villagers come after him in his fields and beat him with sticks, a scene reminiscent of Chinatown when Jack Nicholson's character gets his ass kicked in the orchard by those redneck farmers. Water is a necessity of life, called "the earth's blood" in the film, and when there is very little of it around, people change. They will betray their neighbors for it. They will kill for it. Men become other things. Or is that simply the nature of man? All you know is that people need water.

The water tale mirrors the fractured family well, with an opportunistic and conniving Osman thinking to take for himself (a widower) what is his brother's. In the end, we only see the best in people (Hasan) after we see the very worst of everyone. After being killed, Osman's body floats down through the opened dam, finally flowing down with "his" water in death after he couldn't bring himself to do it (for free anyways) in life.

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