Yavuz Turgul and Şener Şen

Written by Gülcan Tezcan


There have been numerous directors in Turkey who have left footprints that can never be erased in Turkish Cinema with its history of more than a hundred years. However, those who were never forgotten were those directors who produced their films by reflecting the values, lifestyle, culture and literature of the society they came from. The Turkish cinema, known as Yeşilçam, in which masters such as Metin Erksan, Lütfi Akad, Halit Refiğ, Atıf Yılmaz, Yücel Çakmaklı have left immortal works, started to experience a relapse due to the wrong steps taken within the industry after the 1970s as well as the political upheavals of the time. The more the audience neglected the cinema, the more dropped in numbers the production of films. After the 1980s, the dominance of Hollywood movies became evident. The local movies were almost non-existent.

However, Yavuz Turgul´s Eşkıya in the 1990s, took its position in our cinema industry as the movie which reversed this downfall. Turgul, who was well aware of the codes of Yeşilçam as he came from the ecole of Ertem Eğilmez, was able to provide the continuation of the tradition with clear eye on social change.



Yavuz Turgul, who gained recognition of the masses with his movies like ‘Tosun Paşa’, ‘Davaro’, ‘Çiçek Abbas’, ‘Fahriye Abla’, ‘Züğürt Ağa’ and ‘Muhsin Bey’, did not surprise us with the success of ‘Eşkıya’. The main reason as to why Turgul is loved so much is due to the fact that he is a great narrator. Turgul,who sets off by exploring stories of people, conflicts and realities rather than just trying to give a message, a thought, a perspective or a philosophy, is most probably the reason as to why millions still watch his movies in this geography where the verbal culture is strongly felt.

Yavuz Turgul, who explores the story of two men, an Istanbulian music lover and organiser and another young and ambitious folk singer in his movie ‘Muhsin Bey’, draws attention to the issues that surface in a society that turns away from ancient culture and instead prefers the popular, easily consumed new culture that can easily be bought materialistically.

Eşkıya was a film similar to ‘Muhsin Bey’, exploring the same anxieties through another storyline. Eşkıya, which was filmed in 1996, opened the door to a new era of Turkish cinema. Surely, the mastery of Yavuz Turgul in directing Eşkıya and drawing the masses back to the cinema and the perfect acting of Şener Şen, Uğur Yücel, Sermin Hürmeriç and Kamran Usluer following the depression and regression our cinema experienced in the 1980s ought to be acknowledged. ‘Eşkıya’ explores the story of Baran, who could not keep up with the times he was living in and the new forms of relations modern life was enforcing upon him.



‘Eşkıya’ which actually is a fragile and naive love story, is in a sense a movie of those who have lost their grip on life. The movie, which was an Oscar nominee from Turkey in 1998, received the Bogey Award from Germany in 1997 and the Golden Dolphin Award from the 1998 Portugese Troia International Film Festival. The movie also earned The Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Score in SIYAD Turkish Cinema Awards. Following Yavuz Turgul´s Eşkıya, other movies that followed were ‘Gönül Yarası’, ‘Kabadayı’ and ‘Av Mevsimi’. Şener Şen, who plays in the majority of Turgul´s movies, is one of the actors that the director can never give up on. In one of his interviews he talks about how the story is the most important part of a movie and continues on by stating: ¨I have never built anything based on a concept, a philosophy or a thought. All of that, came and settled into my work by itself. I never sat down and thought about how I could criticise an issue through modernism. I don´t believe that it is correct to paint me as a man who has tendencies towards nostalgia and someone who defends the values of the past. Rather, I am a man who is after opposites, conflicts and contradictions. The reason for this is because my protagonist is generally Şener Şen and the fact that Şener is always a sympathetic and honest man. There were times when he would correct me. Particularly, all the things like morality, conscience, justice that I thought of were all spoken to me by Şener. As Şener was the one who said those things, I developed the idea that his stand is a true one.¨ With these words, he expresses how Şener Şen had an influence on his films. However, Yavuz Turgul destroys this portrayal with his own hands in his movie of Gönül Yarası. In this movie, he explores the story of an idealist teacher, who devotes himself to poor children and yet, causes many heartbreaks with the good acts he does in the lives of his own children and a young lady in need of help.



The theatre career of Şener Şen, who actually took the first steps of his acting career at the İstanbul City Theatre and later taking a step into the world of comedy movies, is not well known amongst the masses but he actually was a part of many theatrical plays including classics like Othello, Cyrano de Bergerac, and important Turkish works such as ‘Keşanlı Ali Destanı’, ‘Sersem Kocanın Kurnaz Karısı’, ‘Zengin Mutfağı’. Şen, who later turned to acting in cinema, earned the acknowledgement of the viewers with his character as ‘Badi Ekrem’ in the series of ‘Hababam’, and became the most loved comedy actor of the Turkish cinema for many years to follow. The characters he brought to life in the movies of ‘Süt Kardeşler’, ‘Tosun Paşa’, ‘Davaro’ led him to take an important position within cinema. Züğürt Ağa, Muhsin Bey and Arabesk are also just a few of the movies in which Şener Şen reached peak with his acting. Şen an indispensable actor with the character Baran in Eşkıya directed by Yavuz Turgul, continued his partnership with Turgul in the movies of ‘Gönül Yarası’, ‘Kabadayı’, ‘Av Mevsimi’. At the most prominent film festival of Turkey, the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Şener Şen won Best Actor in ‘Çöpçüler Kralı’ in 1978, Best Actor in Muhsin Bey in 1987, the 2004 Lifetime Honour Award and Best Actor for ‘Gönül Yarası’ in 2005. The great actor also received Best Actor Award for Eşkıya at the Valencia Film Festival in 1997

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Gülcan Tezcan

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