Oh, Moon! is Reha Erdem’s first feature film, and lays out the thematic leitmotifs for his future work: Istanbul, the Bosporus, and the marginal lives of those who are linked to them umbilically.
It also presages his cinematic viewpoint, expressed through the sullen but intense persona of his protagonists, in this film the arresting and statuesque Yekta, an eleven year old youngest female member of a Turkish family with royal antecedents now on the verge of destruction and extinction.
Yekta lives with her two spinster aunts in the empty and echoing family mansion, largely running rapidly into disuse and decay. Her grandfather lies unspeaking and unheard, behind closed doors, bedridden and paralysed. One of the aunts encourages Yekta’s fascination with the old soaring vast house, and initiates her into some of the family’s dark secrets, while the other, an English language teacher on Burgaz Island, seeks to draw her away from the stagnating miasma of the past and the house by arranging formal boarded schooling for her on the island.
Yekta yearns for knowledge of her lost mother, and, intuitively knowing herself to be the consequence of forbidden doings, succumbs to the lure of a fantasy-driven escape to a dreamt union with her.
This deeply layered film is stunningly shot in black and white painterly compositions, with a superbly varied and engineered sound track. Towards the end the dense strident use of two foreign languages, English and Italian, is enormously impactful.
This is a cinematic gem that deserves repeated viewings.