Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
Turkish cinema has produced very few examples of fantasy fiction genre films since its beginning in 1914 except for the 1970s Yeşilçam era. The first film ever to be made in Turkey by a Turkish filmmaker (Fuat Uzkınay) is credited as Ayastefanos’taki Rus Abidesinin Yıkılışı (The Destruction of the Russian Monument at Ayastefanos) (Panaite, 8), which is an actuality film similar to Lumiere brothers’ shorts. The lack of recognition of fantasy fiction in Turkish film history and literature can be attributed to the social and political movements along with the modernization process in the republic’s history to migration, alienation, and the contradictory Turkish identity. A survey of Turkish novels reveals a parallel lack of fantasy fiction in literature. In analyzing this lack of fantasy fiction films in literature, Veli Uğur concludes that it is the late modernization process (he claims starts with early 2000’s) within the Turkish social, cultural sphere that influenced this almost complete non-existence of the genre (136). A late modernization is not sufficient to explain the fantasy fictions rise in 1970s and complete disappearance afterwards in Turkish cinema. This project’s main concern is to identify the reasons behind the lack of fantasy fiction films in Turkish cinema by analyzing the films produced in the early peak period of Yeşilçam (early 1970s). I look at the cinematic texts through the lens of attachment to realism and tradition, the refusal and re-appearance of folklore, the definition of Turkish identity prior to the acceptance of Islam, and the severed ties with the Ottoman identity. These factors all created a crisis for the modern Turk. The investigation addresses the effect of the emerging Turkish culture of the early 1970s on the production and perception of fantasy in films as a way of unearthing the social struggles and desires of that time. Contrary to mainstream literature, the Yeşilçam (Green Pine) era (roughly between 1960 and 1980) produced quite a few examples (36 in total from 1970 to 1979 (Önk, 3875)); however, these are only A movies and thus the perception that there aren’t many fantasy films produced in Turkey is wrong. If B films with low-budgets are added the total number rises to 135 films out of a total of roughly 200 films were produced during this nine-year period. The influence of European and American culture after the proclamation of Turkey as a republic in 1923 aided a rise in art and cultural events (such as film festivals) that affected the production of films. Yeşilçam was the peak of this movement towards modernization, and although the production values and budgets for the films were very low, became they extremely successful. These films were produced and distributed for the Turkish audience. Turkish movie theaters of the 1970’s were mainly in big cities.
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