MOSAIC: Film review: Revival of 2007 Turkish release Mutluluk

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By Beverly Andrews

Independent filmmakers are currently struggling to find a new economic model that will make producing films for the independent sector economically viable. As dvd sales slump, a traditional source of revenue for independent film producers, many working in the industry are looking for alternative sources of revenue.   With the rapid expansion of the streaming platform Netflix and its growing inclusion of world cinema, independent producers may have found a profitable new outlet for their work. Netflix has provided a platform where films traditionally relegated to short runs in art house cinemas will have a second chance to reach a global audience.

Adapted from the critically acclaimed novel of the same name, by Turkish novelist Turk Zulfu Livaneli. Mutluluk examines the theme of honour killing

One of the titles currently featured in the world cinema section of Netflix is the 2007 critically acclaimed Turkish hit, Mutluluk (the English language title is Bliss). Adapted from the critically acclaimed novel of the same name, by Turkish novelist Turk Zulfu Livaneli. Mutluluk examines the theme of honour killing and focuses on the fate of a young Turkish girl, Meryum, who may, or may not, have been raped. The film illustrates how both cultural traditions and male pride conspire to ensure her voice is not heard.

Director Abdullah Oguz’s feature opens with breathtaking shots of a wild, rural landscape, representing Meryum’s village. These opening shots present an idyllic, peaceful world, until we see the bruised unconscious figure of Meryum, played beautifully by critically acclaimed Turkish actress Ozgu Namal. Meryum has been found unconscious and dishevelled by the lake. With her family now fearing the worst, that she has been sexually assaulted, they turn to the village elder, Meryum’s uncle, to decide her fate and it is her uncle’s decision that Meryum be condemned to death, since she cannot give a coherent explanation of what has taken place.

Meryum is told that the death sentence must be executed by her own hands but when Meryum refuses to do this, the job falls on the shoulders of a distant cousin, Cemal played by Murat Han, a soldier recently discharged from the army.

Murat is ordered to take Meryum to the capital, where he will then kill her. Since her birth was not registered and she has no birth certificate, the family expect that there will be few questions asked by the police.

For most civilised people, the decision taken by Meryum’s uncle to underwrite her murder is one difficult to fathom and, of course, easy to condemn. However, what follows in Oguz’s highly intelligent feature film is not a simple condemnation of male chauvinism, that is endemic in many traditional societies not only in the Middle East but across the globe, but a far more subtle examination of a country in transition, one pulled between the values the East and the West and whose most populous city, Istanbul is, in many ways, a metaphor for this geophysical contradiction, since it is literally positioned on two continents.

We follow Meryum and Cemal as they embark on their journey to Istanbul. Cemal is forced to confront a world that finds his mission abhorrent and eventually is forced to confront – and deal with – his own doubts on the morality of his mission.



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