Istanbul and Thelma & Louise – What is It About?

Movies often serve as a mirror that refracts into the problems faced by a country, and Turkish cinema especially serves as a window to reflect the societal and political turmoil that Turkish citizens have been dealing with since the onset of the recent economic crisis in 2020. Historian Gönül Colin explores here how Turkish film reveals the long-term struggle for a new identity, a quest that has often been dismissed by critics as’meaningless’irrelevant’. The film’s narrative is the story of a young Turk (Emine Sanz), who attempts to escape from her abusive parents and find a better life on the other side of the globe in the United States.

At first glance, the film’s plot is simple – a young girl leaves her parents’ house and travels to America with the intention of finding a better life. This premise is the crux of the film’s plot and the reason that most of its critics fail to appreciate the story. While the story is not an elaborate and philosophical exposition of the nature of humanity, it is a film that seeks to explore the human condition. This is a story that tackles the problems faced by many immigrants trying to make a better life, including those that have experienced the horrors of war.

In reality, the story has much more to say than the superficial, simple meaning that most critics and viewers assign to the title. In fact, many critics have argued that the plot of the film is a reflection of the culture and politics of Turkey itself. It is, therefore, important to look at the film within this context and see how it actually explores these themes.

The story begins as the narrator tells her story of how she found herself in the United States and the struggles that she went through to find herself in this ‘better life’. While this sounds very convincing, it is also a story that is familiar to many Turks. Many stories of Turks coming to the West as immigrants are told with similar themes and elements. In fact, many of the best films of Turkish cinema depict these types of journeys. The Grand Budapest Hotel is another great example of Turkish cinema that depicts a modern day Turkish family coming to the West in search of a better life and eventually finding the promise of a better life in America. Although this film is more successful at tackling the theme of identity than Thelma & Louise, the movie does not fully explore the problems faced by immigrants.

Most Turks, however, will have a different take on what constitutes ‘better life’ in America. It is this difference that helps them understand that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ – only a different way of life. It is a story about a Turkish immigrant and how she struggles to adjust to life in a completely different society, one that reflects the differences between Western culture and that of the East, while at the same time offering her a home.

This is what the film is really about: a story about a person’s journey, not about a single event; it is about a whole culture and a whole nation. It is a film that shows us the Turkish woman’s struggle to achieve the American dream and to understand the complexities of modern life.

This content is contributed by Guestomatic

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