On Land, Memory, and Masculinity: Unearthing Silences around myths of Gallipoli in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Ahlat Ağacı (The Wild Pear Tree)

Hülya Adak, Murat Akser

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Abstract

This article offers a critical reading of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Ahlat Ağacı (The Wild Pear Tree) through an exploration and critique of the mythmaking and monumentalization surrounding the Gallipoli Battle and the multiple ways in which Ceylan’s film unsettles the foundational myths of the last century in Turkey. Ceylan’s scenes and characters are constructed in such a way that the male characters and particularly Sinan (the main character) refuse to succumb to hegemonic codes of masculinity. Through this cinematic refusal by an anti-hero (Sinan), the film addresses the crisis of hegemonic masculinities in their interconnectedness to militarism, nationalism, capitalism, and heteronormativity. Through Sinan’s quest for self-realization, the film signals not only the impotence and vanity of nationalist masculinities but also the caesuras and instabilities in national myths. As the last film of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s new land of ghosts trilogy as we claim, starting with Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Winter Sleep, Ahlat Ağacı seems to close the cycle with a final scene that bespeaks the possibility of unearthing lost others of national mythmaking, bringing fertility and hope to the lands in which collective amnesia reigns supreme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-91
Number of pages8
JournalNew Perspectives on Turkey
Volume69
Early online date17 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Newton Mobility Grant (2019–2020) from the British Academy. The authors would like to thank Zeynep Atakan for allowing us to use the high-resolution images.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023.

Keywords

  • masculinity
  • Turkish cinema
  • Ottoman Armenians and Greeks
  • myths of the Gallipoli Battle
  • Gallipoli (First World War) memorials
  • Masculinity
  • Gallipoli (World War I) memorials

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