"Destiny": Downward Spiral By Cüneyt Cebenoyan

in 26th Istanbul International Film Festival

by Cüneyt Cebenoyan

Why do we fall in love with a particular person and and not with somebody else? The answer has never been easy. Destiny [Kader] by Zeki Demirkubuz tells us about an irrational love story — or rather, two. The girl Ugur loves Zagor who is in jail when the story begins and ends up there again after a brief period of freedom. He continues to cause trouble in prisons and hence ends up being sent from one prison to another in different cities, each being less developed than the former. She sings in bars to earn a living and to support Zagor.

Bekir is in love with Ugur and follows her wherever she goes. Bekir meets Ugur for the first time when she comes to the carpet shop which he manages and which is established by his father in order to provide him a profession. Ugur finds Bekir asleep, a pattern which repeats itself. So the first time he sees her he is not fully awake and this fact plays a crucial, determining role in his falling in love with her. He acts as if he is hypnotised, as if he never fully awakens from a dream from then on. His obsession with her is totally irrational because she doesn’t reciprocate his love. She loves someone else. Yes, at that first encounter she clearly enjoys to play with him, to tease him but that’s about it. But that play has a fatal effect on Bekir.

Both Ugur and Bekir leave their families behind and do not care about their fates. The film is mainly about the obsession of Bekir and we see very little about Ugur’s object of desire, namely Zagor. But both loves have epic proportions; they seem to continue forever — and in fact they do in a certain sense. Destiny is the prequel to Innocence (Masumiyet, 1997), the second film of Demirkubuz.

Destiny paints a bleak picture of society and love. Bekir’s obsession doesn’t levitate him, it drags him down. The same is true for Ugur. Both are like trapped in a maelstrom, always going down in spirals. Bekir is like a gambler, every time he loses he risks more. Maybe his loss makes him keep gambling. What is at stake? His wife represents for him everything he wants to break free from. In a sense his fate resembles the fate of his country, i.e. Turkey. The girl he is married to represents East, the past that Turkey and Bekir wants to leave behind. She enters the film in a picture with a headscarf, the symbol of conservatism and religousness. On the other hand Ugur represents the ever elusive free West, the future. She is an independent creature who cannot be taken hold of. Bekir is trapped in a nowhere land. There is no future for him and he denies the past where family relations are hypocritical and suppressive. Ugur’s future seems even more bleak if she had stayed home. After all she is in love with the guy who murdered her mother’s lover and the caretaker of the family.

Destiny is Demirkubuz’s seventh and strongest feature so far. The performances he draws from his actors are exceptional with the exception of Vildan Atasever, who falters at times in the role of Ugur. But Ufuk Bayraktar who is an amateur deserves all the praise he got at Antalya and Istanbul film festivals. The sparse use of Edward Artemiev’s music contributes a lot to the melancholic atmosphere of the film.