Times and Winds

Kino International
Reha Erdem/Turkey 2006

Reha Erdem’s newest film Times and Winds is a film that is preoccupied with the rhythms of life. For the first few minutes of the film, nothing is heard but perpetual rhythms. A young boy, Omer (Ozkan Ozen), leans against his house, the rustling wind blowing over him and through the trees above his head. Inside the house, Omer’s father, the local imam, has taken ill; he coughs. Then, still coughing, he raps on the window to get the attention of his son, who understand and runs to a neighbor to ask him to climb the mosque’s minaret and sing the call to prayer in his father’s stead. The man agrees, and the cycle of the film begins. It is night, and this call to prayer is the first of the five that will appear throughout the film. This cycle, too, is a rhythm of life; the sounds that fill the opening of the film simply serve to make one’s mind more acutely aware.

Young Omer fantasizes about killing his ill father, who constantly belittles him while doting on his younger brother. We see Omer try to hasten his father’s demise in many ways, though he never succeeds. Omer’s friends, too, have their fantasies. Yakup (Ali Bey Kayali) wishes his father weren’t such an embarrassment and dreams of romance with his teacher. Yildiz (Elit Iscan) wishes she could rid herself of her younger sister – a constant nuisance and her mother’s favorite. During the film, each of these fantasies is realized on screen, but the rhythms and cycles of life remain unchanged. Every son cowers before his father, who, in turn, cowers before his own father. In every pair of siblings, there is always one who will be his father’s favorite – one who will be smarter or keep his field better. And, of course, children will always fantasize.

In the end, fantasy may comprise most of Times and Winds. Every time one of the children lives through a traumatic event – whether it be Omer’s attempting to kill his father or Yakup’s catching his father peeping through the windows of the teacher that is the object of the young boy’s desire – the children are subsequently shown sprawled across the ground, unconscious or asleep. The film makes no attempt to clarify for the viewer what is real and what is not. For the children, the emotions of both the real and fantasy worlds have weight. So, too, do these worlds affect those who watch this film.

Five times, as Times and Winds starts with night and works backwards through the Muslim prayer cycle, the film awakens from what might be fantasy and approaches its story anew. Driving each smaller section of the film are the constant rhythms of the world, the characters, and their emotions, which have become clear to the viewer through the revealing of their innermost fantasies. As the film ends with the fifth and final call to prayer, it implies that its most pertinent truth may be that Omer’s father really is dying and that the child is at a loss for how to manage. Cutting away from the despondent child, the camera pans across the sky and captures the most stunning image in a film that is uniformly gorgeous _ a hopeful image, perhaps; atop the town’s minaret the crescent, a symbol associated with both Turkey and Islam, is glistening in front of the rising, morning sun.

© 2007 Neal Solon. All rights reserved.

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