Adapting a book to a film has always been a controversial issue between bookworms and film enthusiasts; one side believes that a book loses some of its characteristics during the process while the others think that this enriches the film industry and opens new perspectives for the viewers. However, we are not going to take part in these discussions that have been ongoing for a very long time. Instead, I want to show you how literature is inspirational a wide variety of areas and that cinema is one of them. Turkish literature dates back to between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of 14th century and it is divided into 3 main categories. Book adaptations, as expected, started not long ago, and day by day we encounter new examples. I believe that every person sees the same film from completely different perspectives, so instead of making a list of examples to these adaptations, I will share two of my favourites. I am sure that once you enter the world of Turkish book adaptations, you will be hooked!
First film that needs to me mentioned is Uçurtmayı Vurmasınlar (Don’t Let Them Shoot the Kite) by Feride Çiçekoğlu. We all know that adaptation is a problematic process since it is impossible to include everything written on the pages in the movie. Some parts might need cutting or extra elements from the novel might be added as long as the director is faithful to the writer’s point of view. Therefore, I consider Uçurtmayı Vurmasınlar as a good example. This crime/drama film directed by Tunç Başaran in 1989 is the first one that comes to mind as a good adaptation. It is about a little boy named Barış trapped in a prison because his mother commits a crime and he ends up in prison with her as was the practice in Turkey at the time. The story is being told from his eyes and there is a strong friendship between Barış and political criminal named İnci. Also, the film was selected as the Turkish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 62nd Academy Awards but was not accepted as a nominee. You should definitely watch or read this as soon as possible!
“Uçma zamanı gelince gitmesi gerekirmiş. Kuşlar tutsak yaşayamazlarmış. Ya çocuklar, İnci? Onlar tutsak yaşayabilirler mi? Kuşumun adını Barış koydum. Minik Barış!”
“A bird needs to go when it is the time for flying. People say that they cannot live in captivity. What about children, İnci? Can they live like that? I named my bird as ‘Barış”. Tiny Barış!”
The second movie is an adaption of the book Daha (More) by Hakan Günday and it was directed by Onur Saylak in 2017 as his first experience in directing a film. It is also a crime/drama movie like “Don’t Let Them Shoot The Kite” about a young boy. He lives in the coastal area of Turkey and has to face harsh conditions and conflicting feelings in the middle of the refugee crisis. We can certainly say that Günday was deeply affected by this crisis, which prompted him to write the book. It is a critical issue and both Günday and Saylak wanted to draw attention by using the power of art and it is obvious that they succeeded. The movie received several awards in festivals both at home and abroad, such as Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, East End Film Festival, Valladolid International Film Festival and so on.
I wanted to give you a brief introduction of my two favourites, but this list goes on and on: Motherland Hotel, Fog and Night, Bliss, A Season in Hakkari, Envy, and so an. As I previously mentioned, you will get addicted to watching them once you start this journey and will definitely want to buy the books as well!