A lonely and beautiful country: reflecting upon the state of oblivion in Turkey through Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Three Monkeys
ABATRACT Through an in-depth analysis of internationally acclaimed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s 2008 film Three Monkeys (Üç Maymun), this paper discusses the politics of Ceylan’s cinema against the backdrop of the current memory debate in Turkey. Turkey has a troubling relationship with its past. The process of the foundation and the early development of the Turkish nation-state included traumatic events during which ethnic and religious minorities were massacred, deported, or encouraged to migrate. There have been also several violent incidents in Turkey’s subsequent history that include massacres, mass killings, political assassinations, as well as military coups. It is a widely held opinion that social memory in Turkey is based on forgetting and denial, that is, Turkish society deals with the troubling events in its past by turning a blind eye to them. Drawing upon the question of how it would be possible to make the traces of forgetting and silence observable, this paper argues that Ceylan’s film, despite its seemingly apolitical story, has indeed profound political connotations since its narrative and visual organization serves to display the prevailing mood of silence, oblivion and complicity in Turkey.
Keywords: memory, amnesia, oblivion, Turkey, Turkish cinema
Asuman Suner is Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IstanbulTechnicalUniversity, Istanbul, Turkey. She is the author of New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity, and Memory (I.B. Tauris, 2009).