By Nevin Ulusoy
“DEFUNCT”- SECRET CURTAINS
Cinema, secretive dream colours that are reflected on the white, mysterious, misty depths turn into real beings. As the cinemas are closed today this magic can be invited to our homes only, but by losing most of their charm, the films that seem to address only to us, make us lose ourselves. Indicating that the comfort of home is a minus for the beauty of cinema, watching online films is an experience to enjoy. If they are festival films especially, we should give them our time, maybe we can breathe only with those moments.
The past that is told us, full of legendary beings, covered with a misty glorifying, the whole of stories that make us peaceful. The state of dreams that we can hold in our hands, thinking we know what is behind the curtains, the gilded mirror that maybe shows us what we want to see only.
“Anything that concerns people-be very careful about it. If you see something you’re sure is wrong, don’t be sure. If it’s people, be very careful… It’s not right, it’s foolish, to criticize the way any people happen to be…I’m telling you this-be grateful for yourself. Yes, for yourself. Be thankful.” William Saroyan
“Defunct” is a Greek film directed by Zacharias Mavroeidis in 2019. We watch Michalis Sarantis, Giota Festa and Thanasis Papageorgiov in the leading roles. The film was the winner of Best Screenplay award in Hellenic Film Academy Awards, Audience and Youth Jury award in Thessalonika Film Festival. The film takes place in a little Aegean town. Secluded streets full of olive and bitter orange trees, plain, that nobody goes out at night. They have security problems they are not used to brought by the modern times. Aris, Aristides is at his grandfather’s house for a short time, who is dead now, at the house he visited often when he was a child, he welcomed the new year. He is named after his grandfather and all the people who know his grandfather keep on telling him that he has taken after him. Aris is a big city person, he always tells the people around him that he is there for a short time. It is as if everywhere is his childhood, he and his friends he played with at his childhood salute each other with smiles full of the sweet memories of old days. He could not find his way in life, whatever that means, of course the usual things, he is more than thirty, he is not married yet, has not got a good job. He deals with trade but things are not regular and this keeps his mind busy too much, harms his relationships with the people around him. “Do the job you want to do” says one of his friends in the end. Trade does not go well with friends of course, the cruel rules of trade suffocates Aris.
The town was the symbol of resistance in II. World War, Aris’ grandfather had a great role in this resistance, there is not one soul in the town who does not know him as a gallant soldier, a hero. He was always with a friend of his, Vasso, who is still alive, for whom he bought the house next door and presented in a way. When Vasso sees Aris for the first time, he looks at him for a long time, there is a very deep love in his eyes, a smile with a breeze of the past, sweet days. His dearie face is so loving, the feelings gushing from his heart is obvious. He listens about his grandfather from Vasso, the warm stove, wood piled near the stove, Turkish coffee drunk in front of the fire that heats one’s heart, water, backgammon played with joy. Light penetrating the room through the window, birds’ sweet songs. The same warm atmosphere can be found in his grandfather’s house as well. We see the library often, the study table in front of it, with a table lamp on it, the same nice light as in Vasso’s house. It seems as if the books and files want to tell their own stories. All the things they went through are written in the files, reports, notes taken when they were soldiers. Everything is written day by day, determined in the discipline of a soldier, written and arranged.
A secret, dark love that shows itself slowly, dark, because nobody accepts it, secret, experienced at the ultimate depths, love that is “everywhere and nowhere”.
A secret, dark love that shows itself slowly, dark, because nobody accepts it, secret, experienced at the ultimate depths, love that is “everywhere and nowhere”. What makes a soldier a hero? What can it be that harms the notion, our notion of a “hero”, that drives away a person, a man from the things making him/her deserve this name, in our subconscious? What is it that makes us look down upon the person, the thing just the opposite of the image in our minds? We remember wonderful American writer William Saroyan, whose hometown is Bitlis in Turkey and his great novel “The Human Comedy.” “Anything that concerns people-be very careful about it. If you see something you’re sure is wrong, don’t be sure. If it’s people, be very careful… It’s not right, it’s foolish, to criticize the way any people happen to be…I’m telling you this-be grateful for yourself. Yes, for yourself. Be thankful.” This film is a soft human melody with a sweet pain. It makes us feel a life to be lived much beyond the daily struggles deeply, feelings that call us in those struggles, feelings make our lives worthy, depths make us turn our backs to habits, mediocrity that never leaves us alone. The music of the film is also part of this misty beauty, I could not leave the film until the very end. The language with fascinating tunes that I do not understand, that I know from songs has also remained with me.