Following on from Örnek's previous film GELİBOLU (2005), DEVRİM ARABALARI (THE CARS OF THE REVOLUTION) looks once again at the pitfalls of nationalism, concentrating especially on bureaucracies.
Following the military coup of 1960, General Cemal Gürsel (Sait Genay) looks for some means to reinforce Turkish nationalism as a means of uniting a divided country. He sponsors a project conducted in the central Anatolian city of Eskişehir to build Turkey's first automobile - the Devrim (or Revolution). A team of crack engineers is assembled under the leadership of Gündüz (Taner Birsel) and told that they have just 130 days to complete the project. The film concentrates on the team's trials and tribulations as they strive to fulfill the brief.
Örnek draws a direct parallel between the birth of the automobile and the birth of engineer Necip's (Onur Ünsal's) first child to his wife Nilüfer (Seçil Mutlu). She experiences labor pains before the birth, but after a long while the child appears, much to the engineers' delight. Lıkewise the automobile finally appears after a long gestation period, but is rendered still-born during a humiliating ceremony at the Ankara Meclis (Parliament building) when one of the prototypes runs out of gas with General Gürsel in the front seat. The newspapers have a field day with headlines such as "The Revolution Didn't Work," signaling the demise of the project.
Örnek suggests that the principal cause of this mishap was the intransigence of the government bureaucrats led by Sami (Uğur Polat). Ostensibly they are worried about the spiraling costs of the project, but in truth they resent the idea that General Gürsel is making decisions on his own without consulting them. Hence they try every strategy in the book to derail the project: the final indignity in the Meclis was entirely their responsibility. In a series of significant exchanges, Latif, one of the engineers (Selçuk Yöntem) explains to Necip that in Turkey everyone is out to destroy success, mostly out of spite. Hence the country's industry cannot develop in any significant way.
Although set over half a century ago, DEVRİM ARABALARI makes trenchant criticism of a mindset that still prevails today in government circles. No one, it seems, is really interested in radical change, for fear of their own futures; and they will make every effort to destroy the efforts of others, either by dragging their feet or by direct sabotage. We sympathize with Gündüz and his faithful band of brothers, as they understand that the project was ultimately not designed to serve the nation, but rather to increase their own sense of self-worth. It was worth doing, as it brought a group of disparate personalities together and created a community of purpose as a result.
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