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  • Beyond the Hill (Tepenin ardi) | Review

    Tribeca 2012

    By | April 28, 2012

    Director: Emir Alper

    Writer: Emir Alper

    Starring: Tamer Levent, Reha Özcan, Mehmet Ozgur, Berk Hakman, Banu Fotocan, Furkan Berk Kiran

    The characters in Emir Alper’s film are all very Turkish men. Still, watching them I was thinking about the Indians wandering in the mountains in Peru, frightened to death because of the legendary Pishtacos -– gringos accused of every inexplicable death in the mountains. Faik (Tamer Levent), Nusret (Reha Özcan), Caner (Furkan Berk Kiran) and Zafer (Berk Hakman) are afraid as well; they are conscious day and night, waiting for something. Yet, what — if anything — is going to happen?

    In the first sequence one men leaves home with a shotgun. Out of habit, we believe that a shotgun shown in the first sequence, must fire in the last one. What if this does not happen at the proper time?

    It is hot, it is stuffy, beyond the hill. It is hard to think clearly. No matter what is going on, there are certain films need to be watched until the very end to understand the meaning. The Seventh Continent (1989) directed by Michael Haneke was that kind of movie; Alper’s Beyond the Hill (2011) is another example.

    The film is supposed to be a western. Well, if we look around us — we notice the masculine world. The story develops in a place burned by sun; there are good heroes and bad ones. Shotguns are ready — we might witness a duel. In the meantime, we are given a few keys to prove the genre; yet there is no action that turns theory into practice. Only this peace is disturbing. A grandfather teaches his grandson how to shoot. Someone walks the local dog. Zafer has hallucinations. Stray bullets fly around but do not hurt anyone. Everyone waits for something that might never come. I slowly start to feel like a viewer watching Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. The level of absurdity is rises; however, I have come so far with these characters, there is no turning back now.

    “Don’t you ever get bored here?” asks one man. I was asking myself the same and the answer is: No, I don’t. I like rambling and groping. I don’t need music to do this, maps are totally unnecessary. The place — beautifully portrayed by  cinematographer George Chiper-Lillemark — makes me wilder. I do not feel any closeness with the woman waiting for her men inside the house. They are passing by and stepping in, she knows that. I would rather be a hunter, a spiritual ally, than a priestess hidden inside a dark room. I don’t know where I am going, but I let them lead me into their fantasy about fighting mystical enemies.

    Zafer suffers from post-war trauma, his reality is haunted by imaginary ghosts. Yet, it is not a real drama we are talking about. We are going deeper and farther into… foolery. The moods are worse, the situations are not resolved. It becomes increasingly obvious that we are circling into absurdity. “Are we going now?” asks one of the heroes from Waiting for Godot. “Yup” answers the other one and they both do not move at all. This is the end. And as in Beckett’s play, the last worlds express the infirmity and tragedy of life; the last scene in Emir Alper’s film (the first scene to feature music!) exemplifies the inner dynamic of the world hidden behind the hill. I want to go back there.

    Rating: 6/10

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