As we celebrate the centennial of our cinema, a lot has been written about the fact that this dating is not correct. Aside from disregarding the work of the Manaki Brothers, the fact that the footage that started as the “first movie” has never been seen by anyone is a question mark in itself. On the other hand, it is ridiculous to reduce the issue to “the first Turk to use a camera” instead of taking the beginning of our cinema of a country like the Soviet Union as the establishment of the country. While all the arts from music to architecture, from theater to painting gained momentum with strong support in the Republican era, the treatment of cinema as a stepchild prevented the formation of a deep-rooted cinema. After decades of films trying to become “cinema”, in the environment of relative freedom brought by May 27, 1960, our works that deserve the seventh art in terms of both content and form emerged. If our subject is cinema, maybe a dating in this direction will be more accurate for the beginning. The subject of our article goes beyond dating and on whether there is a Turkish cinema in the context of “National Cinema” as a concept, because it is not enough to produce films in that land or in the relevant ownership for a cinema to deserve a national name.
Contrary to popular belief, National Cinema is not a collection of images in which the national-spiritual feelings or historical-daily life of a nation are told. National Cinema can only exist when a country has its own cinematic narrative, cinematographic signature. When the viewer watches a film on an international scale, if the old images that evoke in his mind and a particular visual language show a country as an address, that country has a national cinema. Soviet cinema, for example, built its national language using Assembly Theory. Italian cinema is based on the neo-realist movement and has a narrative that can be called Mediterranean cinema today, without completely erasing this bond. While French cinema gained a national cinematic language with its poetic realist texture, nourished by the tradition of modern poetry, Iranian cinema built its own cinema with a transitional and symbolic narrative based on ancient Iranian poetry, on a social realist background. American cinema, on the other hand, is shaped by action fiction based on rapid cuts, which is also fed by the Soviet Montage. The concept of national cinema has had a geographical correspondence over time. For example, Far East Cinema and Scandinavian Cinema correspond to the total of cinemas in countries with a regional partnership.
National Cinema trial in Turkey in the mid-1960s, critics and directors destructive / constructive discussion in the presence of representatives of social realism has been raised by migration in different ways. Previously, Metin Erksan’s films Susuz Yaz and The Revenge of the Snakes, which were nourished by our literature and culture, were based on national cinema trials. Subsequently, in Erksan’s movie Time to Love, the concept of image is presented in an oriental content that can be summarized as falling in love with the image and isolating from worldly life and a contemporary form that supports this content. Simultaneously with these formal essays Ö. Lütfü Akad and Yılmaz Güney’s socialist realist orientation and the search for a different aesthetics, which are also felt in some of their works, with the wrong ideas such as both the political pressures of the capital class, “filming national spiritual feelings” and “filming to meet the public’s need to watch movies”. It was brought to the choke under the pressure of the fed films, and the formalist trials were also interrupted.
Derviş Zaim returned to this concept, which had not been emphasized until recently, with the “traditional arts trilogy”. The director, who dealt with miniature, calligraphy and shadow play in the films Waiting for Heaven, Nokta and Shadows and Surets respectively, tried a cinematography that would establish a direct connection with these crafts. In the context of experimentation, while Shadows and Images are the weakest link in the trilogy, the formal conflict in which the two-dimensional miniature aesthetics of Waiting for Heaven enter with the three dimensions of the cinema is interesting. The point is, in parallel with the uninterrupted processing of the calligraphy craft on paper in a single move, it is in the form of a continuous shooting with quite long plans in Tuz Gölü, which resembles a blank page, without resorting to the usual cutting in fiction.
The fact that Erksan’s and Zaim’s almost all of these award-winning works did not go beyond trial in terms of the construction of the National Cinema shows that Turkish cinema is not a unique form and conceptually Turkish cinema is not. However, considering that Germany, Greece and many other countries do not have national cinematographies, the debate moves to another dimension, whether national cinema is necessary today. Although our cinema could not produce a unique language, it made a tremendous impact in the world in two narrative forms. One of them is the form that we can describe as late modernism in cinema, where speed and fiction are almost zero, and our influence is felt in the world, especially Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The other is in Latin America