Beynelmilel (2006)



Director:  Muharrem Gulmez, Sirri Sureyya Onder.

Cast:   Cezmi Baskin (Abuzer Yayladali), zg Namal (Glendam Yaylali), Umut Kurt (Haydar Arikan), Nazmi Kirik (Tekin Yayladali), Bahri Beyat (Mahmut Yayladali), Meral Okay (Aydeniz Derya), Dilber Ay (Arzum ilem), Sahin Irmak (Sahin), Oktay Kaynarca (Binbasi), Burak Tamdogan (Samet Usttegmen).

A group of street musicians in Adiyaman (southeastern Turkey) cannot earn their living after the 1980 military coup.


Spoiler Warning:   below is a summary of the entire film.

1982 Adiyaman. 

A truck goes around picking up the members of a musical band here and there.  Some Turkish army men show up and surround the truck.  They open the back and find the band playing and a man in the center dressed in a woman's red dress dancing to the music.  The town informer Suphi exposed the activities of the band.  The truck and all the band members are taken into military headquarters.  Abuzer, the leader of the band, is able to get away because he was going to the bathroom in the woods when the truck was surrounded.  He runs through the city to return home.  He tells his daughter Gulendam:  "The truck has been caught." 

A young man named Haydar arrives in town via the train.

Abuzer goes into town to see his brother Tekin.  He tells Tekin that the truck has been captured.  The authorities take Tekin away.  Abuzer sees Haydar's brother Servet.  He wants to know if Tekin will be taken to Diyarbakir. 

Tekin invited two female singing artists, Arzum and Semra, to help with the night club the band is trying to establish.  Gulendam sees Haydar, who she likes a lot.  He gives her a book and then leaves.  The army arrives.  They give Abuzer a list of banned musical tunes.  They are supposed to be revolutionary/left tunes.  One is from Unity of Labor. 

The local musicians are known as Gevende.  They are charged with entertaining without a permit.  The army wants to know if there are other musicians in the town.  The non-captured members of the band play at a wedding.  A banned tune is requested.  Abuzer will play it only if he can play it so low that the authorities will not be able to hear it. The tune is played and the men dance together in a small line.  The military arrives and grabs the five band members. 

The military commander says that the band will now become the military orchestra.  They will perform contemporary music in town.  Gulendam arrives at the military headquarters and demands to know why her father is being held.  She starts to become very outspoken and the men with her have to stop her from saying too much. 

The military give the new military orchestra French Foreign Legion uniforms to wear because these are the only uniforms they have.  They then are set free to "march" back to their homes.  Abuzer returns home.  The two very heavy female singers arrive and stay at Abuzer's home.   We learn that Gulendam lost her mother at childbirth.  Her grandfather is in considerable pain and she pretends his pills are gone so she can take him into town, where he will get an injection instead.  This gives Gulendam a chance to get away and see Haydar.  Haydar has a book by Engels (co-writer with Marx on numerous works) hidden under a false cover. 

Haydar and a friend go out at night and take down the military banner about the five generals of the junta.  When Gulendam talks with the two singers about revolutionary fervor, they say:  "We saw a revolution --  by General Cemal Gursel."  Gulendam asks Haydar about the communist books he has.  He talks about the importance of resisting the military junta:  "They've thrown thousands of innocent people into jail. . . . We have to react."  He later tells Gulendam that he has become a revolutionary and she says:  "Good for you."  Haydar downgrades night clubs for their emphasis on women's bodies.   

Grandfather has taken a liking to singer Azrum.  He tells his son that he would propose marriage to her if his son wasn't hanging around because he is still very much a widower.  He asks his son Arbuzer:  "Son, what about Semra for you?"  Gulendam tells the singers that they should be upset about night clubs misusing them as women, but the women show little interest in her preaching. 

Haydar and his friend dig up some records from their hiding place.  He gets the copy of the communist Internationale and tells Gulendam to make a recording of it on cassette.  So she does.  At home, dad asks her about the recording.  She tells him it is classical music about the coming of spring with the birds chirping.  Later Haydar gives her an embrace for making the cassette.  Haydar takes a photograph of her and him.  Gulendam tells him that it would be nice for them to be in the same house.  But Haydar insists that all revolutionaries think about is death. So Gulendam asks:  "O.K., what about after the junta falls?"  She thinks that the junta will be toppled in three months or so.  At home she speaks of her romantic disappointments with the women, and they advise her to act more like a woman, using her feminine charms.  Gulendam thinks that Haydar does not really even see her.  So Semra says that if the man is looking elsewhere, then let the woman stand where the man is looking.   

Informer Suphi comes to check on the men in the band.  He tells Abuzer not to let Gulendam hang around with "blighters".  They could smear the spotless girl's reputation.  Tekin comes in to report that work on the night club has finished.  Gulendam speaks against night clubs and her father slaps her.  She is shocked and runs inside the house.  Feeling bad, her father comes in to speak with her.  Gulendam cries. 

The band plays for the military council meeting.  They tell the band to play something else, something that they have not now heard a hundred times from the band.  Servet hears Haydar playing the communist Internationale and breaks the cassette.  He tells his brother:  "If you must kill men, then shoot me, Haydar."

The big day of the performance for the Generals is coming near and the commander demands that all band members cut their hair and shave off any and all moustaches and beards. 

Haydar is upset that his Internationale project failed.  He tells his friends that they need another project.  Haydar criticizes Gulendam for wanting to wait for three more months until the end of the military junta and then leaves.  But the informer's son has an idea. 

The military orchestra plays at a funeral procession.  The informer telephones to say that Seyho of the Pocooks didn't join the funeral prayer and swore.    

The military orchestra performs at night for the military again.  There is a big banner saying:  "Welcome to the 30 August Victory Day Ball."  The commander and his wife dance the first dance.  Outside the ball, Haydar is upset he can't launch a protest project.  Gulendam tells him:  "I might have a surprise protest action."   Then the two revolutionaries dance together.  Gulendam goes home very happy. 

During the night, Haydar and his friend take down an old banner, paint it white and then paint their own slogan on it.  They will display it on the day the generals come to town.  The next day everyone is in the plaza awaiting the arrival of the generals.  The generals finally arrive and the military orchestra starts playing the communist Internationale (thinking it is a classical piece about spring).  The bodyguards for the general get very nervous and start moving the generals back to their limousines, saying:  Generals, there is a big conspiracy!  We must immediately leave.  After the generals are safe, the gunmen surround the band with their automatic weapons pointed at various orchestra members. 

Gulendam starts to unfurl her banner.  As she does so, Haydar shouts for his banner to be unrolled. Haydar is shot and killed by the bodyguards.  Above him is Gulendam's banner saying:  "Let there be no junta."  The women holding the banner let it go and it falls on and covers Haydar's body. 

The military have the entire orchestra and Gulendam in custody.  They demand to know who is Abuzer.  He raises his hand and they forcefully grab him and drag him into another room (where he is probably tortured).  They want to know who gave the Internationale tune to him.  He says that he composed it himself.  Gulendam is very upset at seeing her father manhandled and taken away to a secret room. 

Flash forward.  Gulendam helps her daughter prepare to leave to go to school.  On the television is the singing of the Internationale by the 96 members of the Russian army chorus.  Her daughter asks her about the music and Gulendam says that it is the composition of her late father. 


Pretty good movie about the effects of the abuses of a military dictatorship on the people living under the junta. The movie deals with just the abuse of one small group:  the members of a poor musical band.  They are told that they will be the new military orchestra.  And they are given a list of banned tunes that they must absolutely not play.  Through the experiences of the band members, their friends and families with the military dictatorship, we see just how terrible a military dictatorship can be.  And if they treat a poor little band like this one so badly, what would they do to a larger, more threatening group?   Much worse, undoubtedly.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


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