Ömer Lütfi Akad, a pioneer of Turkish cinema who made over 40 films between 1948 and 1974 (and would carry on directing for television through 1979), died yesterday at the age of 95. Bilge Ebiri has essentially broken the news to the English-speaking world:
Along with Metin Erksan (director of the recently-restored Dry Summer), Akad was probably one of the two senior giants of Turkish cinema during a rather significant time — the period in the 1950s and 60s when the medium was moving away from the canned-theater efforts of early pioneers like Muhsin Ertugrul and starting to tackle more complicated material, against pretty much every odd in the universe. Neither society nor technology had yet caught up to the imaginations of these artists. The equipment was still ancient (the first Turkish film to edit together two separate audio tracks wouldn't come until 1978) and so was the political atmosphere: the country was at the time entering its multi-decade cycle of having a military coup every ten years or so. You'd think this wasn't a great time to be a filmmaker with a social conscience; and yet there Akad was, forging ahead with work that, for all its roughness, still endures.
Bilge's appreciation wraps with a couple of clips, but not before noting that "Akad was also the author of one of the best filmmaking memoirs I've ever read: Isikla Karanlik Arasinda, which translates as 'Between Light and Darkness.'"
In the Wikipedia entry, you'll read that the 1970s trilogy, The Bride, The Wedding and The Sacrifice, "is considered his masterpiece." Mavi Boncuk quotes Tunca Arslan on The Bride, about a young woman who moves with her husband and sick child to Istanbul: "Akad uses the experiences of a provincial family as his medium for drawing attention to a period of disintegrating feudal relationships and burgeoning proletarianism. And this strikes the kind of political chord that is rarely encountered now in Turkish cinema… The Bride is profoundly impressive as a film that explores and comments on the painful period of change sweeping Turkey at the time."
In other news. Catherine Grant's posted a massive roundup on Rossellini's Rome, Open City (1945) and Alex Ross explains why he finds Lars von Trier's use of Wagner in Melancholia "clumsy, unoriginal, and perverse."