Hudutlarin Kanunu (1966)

LAW OF THE BORDER (HUDUTLARIN KANUNU)(director/writer: Lutfi O. Akad; screenwriter: from the novel by Yilmaz Güney; cinematographer: Ali Ugur; Nida Tüfekçi ; cast: Yilmaz Güney (Hidir), Pervin Par (Miss Ayse, teacher), Erol Tas (Ali Cello), Muharrem Gürses (Duran Aga), Tuncel Kurtiz (Bekir), Hikmet Olgun (Yusuf), Tuncer Necmioglu (Aziz), Atilla Ergün (Lt. Zeki), Aydemir Akbas (Abuzer), Sirri Elitas (Ismail); Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Kadir Kesemen; Janus Films; 1966-Turkey-Turkish with English subtitles)
A lively pioneering New Wave Turkish film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A lively pioneering New Wave Turkish film, that reminded me of an American Western. It wrestles with tabu subjects such as class differences, law and order, and the lack of education for the poor. Its realism, willing to examine every day life, changes the way Turkish films were previously made. It tells a simple tale of a sympathetic bold peasant farmer, Hidir (Yilmaz Güney), forced to become a smuggler of sheep in an impoverished southern border town, whose poor soil is not good for farming, and how he makes sacrifices so his young son Yusuf (Hikmet Olgun) may get an education and thereby have a better life.

When the efficient new modern police commander, Lt. Zeki (Atilla Ergün), is stationed in the border village, he makes it dangerous for the smugglers as he plants landmines along the border. The police commander also aligns himself with the caring school teacher, Miss Ayse (Pervin Par), who stays when a new school is agreed upon between the village peasants, a decision influenced by Hidir with the visiting government official. Education is clearly viewed as the only chance of changing things for the better.

The tension between the smugglers and police is heightened, as the de facto leader of the smugglers, Hidir, seems to be the only smuggler who can cross the border undetected. Hidir is double-crossed by the rich Duran Aga (Muharrem Gürses) and the rival gang led by Ali Cello (Erol Tas), as he tragically goes back on his word to the Lieutenant and again smuggles sheep across the border.

Director Lutfi O. Akad(“Irmak”) sensitively directs and writes the social conscience thriller, using a natural style. It’s based on the novel by Yilmaz Güney, who is also the film’s star.

The film was allowed to go to ruin during the military dictatorship in 1980, but since it became a democracy the b/w film has been fully restored in 2011 by the World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory.