The Mischiveous Kids of Literature in Museum

Written by Hanife Çelik

Unforgettable book in Turkish literature, ‘The Chaos Class’ enshrined Turkish audience’s memory exactly 40 years ago. Did you know that this immortal class also has a museum?

“It is the class of all of us… With its teachers and students… The sweetest and most bitter memories of school life with its black board, smell of chalk, noise of rascals, tests, oral exams, cheats, report cards, attendance and makeup examinations…” In this short article decorating the wall of the Chaos Class Museum, journalist/ writer İlhan Selçuk described the immortal work in the most correct way. ‘The Chaos Class’ is a film we watch with pleasure every time it is shown, we laugh at delightedly, that warms us inside and has a piece from each and Enstievery one of us. Their naughtiness aside, this class has invariably been humorous with their friendships, their golden hearts and characters each more interesting than the next.

The most watched series in Turkish cinema history, ‘The Chaos Class’ made its debut in cinema with the first film which narrates the story of recently assigned Deputy Headmaster Sir Mahmut and habitual students of the school. Then we respectively watch the adventures of students of ‘6 Literature A’ class in Private Çamlıca High School, the infamous ‘The Chaos Class’. The story in which teacher-student relations and irregularities in education are blended with comedy received great appreciation when it first came out, and became a blockbuster. Numerous extras were featured in the film as well as the most famous character actors of the period.

‘The Chaos Class’ was adapted from the book with the same title by writer and poet Rıfat Ilgaz. Ilgaz, a prominent representative of socialist realist literature, began his literary life with his poem published in ‘Nazikler’ newspaper. His first book ‘Yarenlik’ was published in 1943, and his poems attracted considerable attention. After completing Teaching School, Rıfat Ilgaz worked as an elementary school teacher for six years, and graduated from Ankara Gazi Training Institute Department of Literature in 1938. After working as a Turkish teacher for some time, he started journalism in 1950s. He wrote articles for ‘Dolmuş’ magazine with the pen name “Stepne (Spare Tire)”. ‘The Chaos Class’ he wrote with the aim of criticizing education system was published in this magazine first as a series, and then these stories were collected into a book in 1957.

Rıfat Ilgaz’s book, considered immortal, was adapted to silver screen by director Ertem Eğilmez. The success of film is undoubtedly also due to direction. Acclaimed director brought the whole staff together a week before filming began, and allowed them to socialize. This is how the foundations of those sincere friendships we witnessed on silver screen were laid. Eğilmez who shot the first ‘The Chaos Class’ in 1975, made four more films titled ‘The Chaos Class Flunked’, ‘The Chaos Class Waking Up’, ‘The Chaos Class is on Vacation’ and ‘Goodbye Chaos Class’ when first film was a success. The tune of the film we are all familiar with is another success element of the film. Tune is melancholic when played slowly, and cheerful when performed fast. Tune that imprinted ‘The Chaos Class’ on our minds was composed by Melih Kibar and the musician received the Golden Orange Best Film Music Award with the tune.

Adile Sultan Pavilion where the film was shot, is located in Validebağ Grove in Üsküdar district. The first films of ‘The Chaos Class’ series were shot here. Today one of the rooms is arranged as The Chaos Class Museum. When you enter the class, the photographs of the writer, film’s director and actors are on desks. Walls are decorated with film’s posters. In addition, information on the film and actors are on the walls. Inclass’ entrance, a scene from third film of the series where Sir Mahmut caught Stubby Necmi in the stove, is animated with wax figures. The human skeleton Nerd Şaban mistook for Sir Nobody’s Fool in the fourth film of the series is also exhibited in the classroom. Mother Hafize figure, positioned right in front of teacher’s desk does not resemble the actress but clothes still evoke her. Another figure is the character Nerd Şaban, portrayed by Kemal Sunal. The statue that only reminds Şaban because of the sweater, cannot create the effect of the authentic smile but still its presence makes you happy. Although figures are not successful, they cannot stop you from breathing the atmosphere of the class you very well know.

You can visit the museum everyday on weekdays between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. just for a 2 Lira fee, and travel back in time with the famous tune of ‘The Chaos Class’ in your head.

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Hanife Çelik

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