Saturday, March 6, 2010

Yet Another "Valley of the Wolves" . . .

Reuters' Simon Akam reports on a coming sequel to the very popular 2006 film, "Valley of the Wolves" (see March 17, 2008 post). The films followed the popular television series, an episode of which recently featured a Turkish child kidnapped by Israeli soldiers and sparked the Celikkol controversy last January. Both the film and the television series play on Turkish nationalist sentiments, including the destructive Sevres syndrome. From Akam:
"Valley of the Wolves: Palestine" is projected to cost over $10 million, making it one of the most expensive Turkish films.

Scheduled for a November release, the new project follows the 2006 feature "Valley of the Wolves: Iraq."

That film, which showed American soldiers running amok in northern Iraq, racked up 4.2 million ticket sales in Turkey and accusations of rampant anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

"After Iraq, we decided that in the next Polat movie we are going to tell again an international story," said scriptwriter Bahadir Ozdener, sitting in an office lined with antique cameras in Nisantasi, an upscale Istanbul neighborhood.

The series' hero is Polat Alemdar, a gun-toting agent with a fondness for sharp tailoring and a dearth of facial expressions.

Played by Necati Sasmaz - who had never acted before - and dubbed by another actor, Polat is sometimes described as the Turkish James Bond. Millions of young Turks idolize him, imitating his mannerisms and speech.

In the new film Ozdener says his intention is "to shed light on the history, on what's really going on in Palestine."
He described the conflict as "a very good example of the imperialists' targets."

. . . . .

The Valley of the Wolves franchise - made by production company Pana Film - has enjoyed tremendous success in Turkey.

The title evokes mythological images from a story beloved by nationalists of a lone wolf that guided Turks out of a Central Asian valley where they had been trapped by enemies.
The television series, known as 'Kurtlar Vadisi' in Turkish, first aired in 2003. The initial, mafia-focused plot saw Polat Alemdar tasked to penetrate Turkish organized crime.

With a regular quota of gunfights and mayhem the series rapidly gained and maintained an enormous following. Today, Pana claims between 20 and 40 million Turks watch each week.

Then came Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, the 2006 feature film, which saw Polat Alemdar avenging in fiction the real-life events of July 2003, when American forces captured and hooded a team of Turkish Special Forces in northern Iraq.

Styled like a Hollywood blockbuster, the film prominently featured abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.

After Iraq, Pana Film began a series about Turkey's long conflict against Kurdish separatist guerrillas. But government pressure forced them to shelve Valley of the Wolves: Terror after just one episode as the subject was too sensitive.

The next series cast Polat as a secret agent defending Turkey against foreign threats.

Styled like a Hollywood blockbuster, Turkish film critic Alin Tasciyan believes Valley of the Wolves carries a very different message.

She called the 2006 Iraq film, "Anti-American in the most American way possible."

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