light gazing, ışığa bakmak

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ali Usta, the simple man ('Dondurmam Gaymak')

How can you give up eggplant salad,
green beans in olive oil...
Pears and grapes
and decide you want to die?

hilarious and well made film about a bay day in the life of a Mugla icecream vendor. a comedy with hints of politics, moral teachings, family life. this is what comedy is all about: the good ones, even though flawed, always win, despite their shortcomings, their manias, their weaknesses. we're human, after all.

and so the story goes: our hero Ali, the icecream vendor, has been utterly preocuppied and obsessing about the threats to his icecream selling business in a small village of  Muğla, namely the big chains, the lolipops (nothing but ice, sugar and coloring he says), and the fake packaged icecreams. a note to say that traditional turkish dondurma, icecream, is made with cream but also salep, a flour made from the tubers of a specific orchid, yes that's right, the flower. salep gives a thicker gooey consistency to icecream allowing street vendors to perform their act (here). another note to say that  Muğla is a province in south western Turkey on the Aegean coast and is home to some of Turkeys largest, better and most beautiful holiday resorts, such as Bodrum, Ölüdeniz, Marmaris and Fethiye. a bit like the Iberian south, the local population leads (or lead) a simple lifestyle where family and community are important, children roam free, the local priest, in this case Imam, have an educational and cohesion role in the village, where there's us and them, home and everywhere else. the arrival of tourism had a big impact of these populations, confronted with different habits. the scene where Ali is gobsmacked by topless girls at the beach reminds me of the Algarve of the seventies.

Ali is determined to fight the foreign powers and the big companies that are set to ruin his business. he finds the answer in commercials and so he spends a considerable amount of his money in shooting a commercial with three girls in bikini that will air after the evening news. he also purchases a bike that he will use to sell his icecream everywhere, including the most remote villages of the area. Ali is pretty happy with himself. however, the village kids, always on the look for new excitement in their summer vacation, and after exhausting all the fruit they could steal from nearby farmers, turn their attention to Ali and, on his distraction, steal his icecream vending bike. the rest of the day is spent by a stream eating loads of icecream and splashing around in the water. Ali doesn´t have such a good day. he is convinced that the big powers have stolen his bike, so he walks all the way to the beach trying to find it and at the same time accusing local icecream and lolipop vendors of stealing his bike. of course the story will end well and Ali's bike will be recovered, the children will suffer their punishment by means of a serious stomach ache and visit to the doctor and all will return to normal.

some scenes are just hilarious, Ali is such a star. the film has been a major sucess in Turkey, well deservedly. it needs to be said that only the main character is a professional actor, all the others are locals from beautiful Muğla.

and here, by someone else.
all set to go:

Teşekkür ederim! Onu çok sevdim.

a last thought about the conflict simple man / big companies.  I have been curious about Turkey's process with the European Union. I don't think Turkey will ever be a part of the EU for many reasons, the most significant being the kind of political process that goes on in Turkey, where forces far wider than the usual European parties thrive. for instance, where would an islamist Turkish party fit in the European parliament? together with the social nacionalists? how strange that is. not to mention the lack of individual freedoms and the dictatorial government in place. another reason is obviously religion. even though European well intentioned texts never tire of mentioning freedom of religion, everyone knows that Muslims are discriminated everywhere in the Western world. the same happens in the East concerning non-Muslims. there is also the great divide between rich and poor in Turkey, not only in terms of money but of culture and education. and then, yes, there's the women issue: honor killings? several wifes? equality? too many issues really. fortunately, the EU promise has been used to improve some institutions (with a grim recent regression).
anyway: when in Turkey I just wished Turkey would never get into the EU, for the most selfish reasons - all of the diversity, crafts, arts, street vending, fruits and vegetables, all the goods from around the incredibly rich country would be withered and stomped on by EU institutions, as it happened with us. everything is measured and standardized now, our fruit tastes of nothing, fishing fleets were killed, everything homemade is illegal and so on. Ali's nighmare come true... In Istanbul, the old freedom can be experienced, the freedom of selling whatever it is that you produce, not constricted by quality rules and standards. I imagine that these standards are wished for by a part of Turkish society but they should know that they come at a price, a loss of innocence.


Osezar said...

Beğenmene sevindim. Türkiye için söylediğin güzel sözler içinde teşekkür ederim.

Ana V. said...

Türkiye'ye aşık oldum... ♥

Osezar said...

Şimdi sırada "Issız Adam" ve "Dedemin İnsanları" filmleri var.

Ana V. said...

"Issiz Adam" gördüm. Sonu çok üzgündür!!