Kino Eye: Turkey in the 80s

Submitted by AWL on 6 April, 2021 - 4:52 Author: John Cunningham
The Wall

Yılmaz Güney (1937-1984) was a Kurdish actor and then director who dedicated himself to making films depicting the struggle of the poor and oppressed in Turkey. Persecuted by the authorities, he was sentenced to prison allegedly for sheltering anarchists in his flat. On his release he accidentally encountered the judge who had previously sentenced him; the details are obscure and disputed but a brawl of some kind ensued and the judge died. Güney always denied responsibility but was convicted of murder. He escaped from prison in 1981 and sought refuge in France. It was there that he made his last film, The Wall (Duvar in Turkish), in 1983. Set in a prison for young male offenders, The Wall tells of the brutal treatment they receive from sadistic prison staff and of their fight to survive. Their dream is to be transferred to another prison where conditions will be better. Eventually, this comes to pass but to their horror the boys discover that their new detention facility is even worse than the previous one. Güney died of cancer on 9 September 1984 and is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The Wall was banned in Turkey for 17 years.

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