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Historical Drama With Strong Links to the Hollywood Western
DUSMAN YOLLARI KESTI (translated as THE ENEMY ROADS WERE BROACHED) is a historical drama set at the time of the Turkish War of Independence, in which two men (Esref Kolcak, Sadri Alisik) and a woman (Nurhan Nur) set out to cross the Anatolian plains from Adapazari near Istanbul to Ankara in Central Anatolia. With nothing except a horse-drawn wagon and their own ingenuity, they manage to overcome a series of obstacles. Yet it's clear that neither man trusts the other, and eventually that mistrust proves their undoing ...
Osman F. Seden's drama has clear links to the Hollywood western, both in the way it uses establishing shots of the Anatolian landscape to emphasize the insignificance of humanity within it, and in the way close-ups of the wagon are used to stress the privations the characters are undergoing. Nurhan Nur spends most of her time sleeping in the back, leaving most of the dirty work to be done by the two men; they carry pistols at their side and are more than happy to engage in gun-battles whenever necessary. As they travel, so their growth of stubble becomes more and more pronounced; by journey's end they look extremely disheveled.
Yet we are always made aware that this is a Yesilcam melodrama, despite its Hollywood associations. Seden is fond of using repeated close- ups to build up tension, combined with rapid transitions between sequences using speeded-up film (reminiscent of American television dramas of the Sixties). The characters are generally static within each frame; it's left to the director to create drama through rapid cutting, while the actors assume expressions appropriate to the mood of the situation. This strategy reminds us of Yesilcam's link to the ancient Turkish art of Karagoz, where the puppets' expressions embodied particular emotions.
DUSMAN YOLLARI TESTI is rip-roaring entertainment, whose brisk pace and concern to pack as much incident into its 93-minute running time more than amply compensate for the low budget. Alisik and Kolcak make an ideally complementary pair of (anti-)heroes, while Nur manages to pack as much emotion into her screams as Fay Wray in the legendary KING KONG of 1933.
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