Sharing the Palme d’Or at the 35th Cannes Film Festival with Costa Gavras’ Missing, Şerif Gören’s The Road represents Turkish cinema’s greatest success on the international festival circuit. It is a masterpiece, shocking and disturbing. There is no doubt that Yılmaz Güney, as screenwriter, was central to the process of The Road becoming renowned and finding its niche in the world film history books. The events that the Gören-Güney duo experienced, and the difficulties of shooting the film in the post-12 September 1980 coup d’état, would provide great subject matter for books and documentaries. The Road depicts the story of five friends, convicts in the Imralı Prison, and their experiences during their week-long leave to spend a religious holiday with their families, granted via special permission for good conduct. Seyyit Ali, learning of his wife’s infidelity, has to stain his hands with blood for the sake of traditions … Mehmet Ali is rejected by his beloved wife’s family as he is thought to have left his brother-in-law to die during a robbery… Yusuf is sent back to prison because he loses his leave permit… Mevlüt, who dreams of spending his leave with his fiancée, is thwarted by her pestering family… Ömer falls for one of the village girls, Gülbahar, and is now at a loss what to do… Şerif Gören has transformed a story that would well suit a western or comedy into an immensely moving Turkish-Anatolian epic. The Road is not, in Godard’s definition, a ‘political film; “it’s a politically made film”. The fact that Şerif Gören calmly places postcards of a military coup leader and a famous transsexual singer side by side in a single frame, a stark symbol of the 12th of September, proves this. —Karoly Vary International Film Festival
Şerif Gören (born 1944 in Xanthi, Greece) is a Turkish film director. Aside from important films under his own signature, he is also the winner of the Palme d’Or (“Golden Palm”) award in Cannes Film Festival in 1982 for the film Yol, which he had directed on behalf of Yılmaz Güney, who at the time was serving a prison sentence for the murder of Yumurtalık judge Safa Mutlu. Gören started his film career as an editor, and then continued as an assistant director. He directed his first film “Endişe” (The Anxiety) in 1974. He directed more than thirty films in a decade. —Wikipedia
Güney and his work were almost entirely unknown outside of his homeland Turkey until his 1981 escape from imprisonment in Turkey and his “discovery” the following year at the Cannes Film Festival for his autobiographical screenplay for Yol (1982), the festival’s grand prize winner. Born in 1937 in a village near the southern city of Adana, Güney studied law and economics at the universities in Ankara and Istanbul, but by the age of 21 he found himself actively involved in filmmaking. As Yesilcam, the Turkish studio system, grew in strength, a handful of directors, including Atif Yilmaz, began to use the cinema as a means of addressing the problems of the people. Only state-sanctioned melodramas, war films and play adaptations had previously played in Turkish theaters, but these new filmmakers began to fill the screens with more artistic, personal and relevant pictures of Turkish life. The most popular name to emerge from the Young Turkish Cinema was that of Yilmaz Güney. Güney was a… read more
Yol. Winner of the Palme D'or in '82 this is political cinema at its most pure. The story of five prisoners on leave and the challenges they face with their social status is just the starting off point for this incisive and compelling work. Guney wrote the film while imprisoned entrusting Goren to direct it. The films various stories reflect on honour, family, tradition but more so on Turkish society and govt.
I enjoyed watching this film on MUBI but the volume of the (Turkish) audio was rather low and the (English) subtitles are full of typographical errors (especially spaces in the middle of words) and language errors; it seems to me that either the translator was not fluent in English or the typography was again at fault. As a result the dialogue was, sadly, often difficult and occasionally impossible to understand.