The Bandit
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  • The Bandit
  • 128 minutes  -  Drama
  • Original title: Eskiya
  • Director:Yavuz Turgul
  • Language: Turkish
  • Country: Turkey

An ex-bandit is released from prison, only to find that his lover and his best friend have left for Istanbul together. With nothing left to live for, as his town has been flooded over during the construction of a dam, he travels to the big city to look for his former flame.

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REVIEW BY Caner Dzhenko Ceylan Movie EXPERT
Review posted: 28/08/2013

After serving 35 years in jail, Baran (Şener Şen) the eşkıya (the bandit) is released from prison in eastern Turkey. After his release, he visits his town and sees it’s underwater because of the construction of a dam. He learns that his friend Berfo (Kamuran Usluer), who was closer to him than a brother, betrayed him and took Keje (Sermin Hürmeric), Baran’s lover, to Istanbul. Baran now has nothing to do but go find Berfo and, most importantly, Keje.

Along the way, Baran meets Cumali (Uğur Yücel), whose life is always revolving around gambling, alcohol, and women. Cumali likes to work for the underground mafia and his dream is to join them. To achieve this aim, he takes orders from a mafia boss, but Cumali has a heart for love and friendship. He takes care of Baran, shows him around the city of Istanbul, and tries to help him. Both of them start to have different kinds of adventures, between finding Keje and working for the mafia.

"The movie conveys the real emotions and experiences of most Turkish people."

Baran, who is from eastern Turkey, runs into many difficulties when he goes to Istanbul, which is on the west side of Turkey. Even though the language is the same, the accents are very different, and as an Easterner, Baran’s communication with the people of Istanbul is quite complicated. When Baran and Cumali meet for the first time, Baran says “Istanbu’a giderim” (I go to Istanbul), to which Cumali replies: “Bir sen eksiktin” (You are the only one missing). Here, Cumali means that Istanbul is full of Easterners and he is fed up with them because they are bringing their lifestyle to Istanbul without adapting to the big city. In another scene, Cumali has an argument with his mafia boss because he didn’t bring a bag which he was supposed to. Just before he is about to be killed, Baran comes in with the bag and saves his life. After this, Cumali says: “Kenardan döndük” (We turned from the edge), which means “We almost died.” Baran doesn’t understand and asks “What?”, and Cumali replies: “Whatever man, never mind.”

Baran’s new friends laugh at him when he says “I am an eşkıya,” because “eşkıya” is a word used in southern Turkey to refer to a bandit, but it’s mostly a mythological word in Istanbul. In another scene, Baran buys candy from a kid and says “Al kıro” (Take it, peasant). By using the word "kiro"(peasant), Baran wants to show his love for the child, but in Istanbul "kiro" is used for someone who is a bully. Throughout the movie, Baran uses past and present tenses in different ways. Instead of “I am going,” “I am looking,” and “I came,” he says “I go,” “I look,” and “I had come.”

Not just the accents, but the lifestyle of a modern city is something completely new for Baran, who experiences culture shock in his own country. He used to live on mountains, and after seeing cars in Istanbul, he doesn’t know how to escape from them when he wants to cross the street. Baran sees Berfo on TV giving an interview, and when the interview ends, Baran starts screaming: “He was here, he was here! Where did he go? What happened to him?” On his first day in Istanbul, Baran and Cumali look at the city from a high place. At this moment, Cumali says: “Everybody is bad in this city. Everybody is your enemy. That’s why you have to fight for yourself.” He shows Baran the gun he carries, but according to Baran everybody is good as long as they are kind to each other. These ideas are communicated very well thanks to both the directing and Şener Şen's acting.

"Eşkıya is one the most important movies ever made in Turkey."

The movie conveys the real emotions and experiences of most Turkish people: the man who looks for an ex-love even after 35 years, the friendship between an old man and a youngster from totally different cultures, the naiveté of someone who knows nothing about modern life, and the ghetto life of Istanbul, all representative of the situations most people in Turkey find themselves in. Maybe that’s one of the main reasons why the movie had such a big audience. There are lots of people in the western cities of Turkey who emigrated from the South or East and lived through the same difficulties as Baran does. Also, the western-born population has the same relationship to Easterners as that shown in the film. That’s why the movie touches almost everyone’s heart.

Eşkıya is one the most important movies ever made in Turkey. It made people go watch a Turkish movie at a time when the national industry was struggling because Turkish theaters mostly concentrated on foreign – especially Hollywood – films. Eşkıya totally changed this mentality by achieving a huge success on the silver screen. More than 2.5 million Turkish audience members watched this movie, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Eşkıya opened a new era in Turkish cinema.