Monday, January 25, 2016

Mustang: Their Spirit Could Not Be Broken

The filming of "Mustang" was wrought with danger. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven rushed to finish shooting a scene where a teenage boy sneaks into the car to make out with a teenage girl. Like the characters in the scene, the cast and crew was in peril. The scene was shot in a remote Turkish town and the townspeople were milling around suspiciously.

Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven
The movie opens like a fairy tale on a Black Sea coastal village in northern Turkey. It is the last day of school, and the students celebrate their freedom with an afternoon frolicking at the beach. Watching the teens horsing around, just being kids, is such a joy but there is a dangerous undercurrent. While their education has been liberating, there is a threat that comes with that liberation. Women, hidden behind headscarves, watch them. 

The best way for me to express the spirit of “Mustang” is to invoke images of wild horses running free, untamed, manes flapping defiantly in the wind, taunting those who would try to break them. Wondrous creatures. A fitting metaphor for the herd of five inseparable, spirited Turkish sisters.

The girls' youthful exuberance is instantly crushed when they are greeted at home by their irate grandmother who has been informed by a conservative neighbor of their shameful antics at the beach. Fearing that their virtue and marriage prospects have been sullied, she drags the girls one by one behind closed doors to whip them. But the defiant sisters band together to challenge their unfair treatment. Her hysteria is trumped when their furious uncle arrives home. Despite the sisters' vehement denial of any wrongdoing, they are locked up in the house. All corrupting influences such as phones and computers are removed. They transcend their prison with imaginary play. Emboldened by their sisterly bond, the girls still find playful ways to exert their independence. While we cheer their expression of feminine freedom, there is an underlying feeling of dread.

Threatened by the herd’s strength and budding sexuality, their guardians corral then into a makeshift prison, welding steel gates closed. The guardians conduct a plan to break up the pack by enlisting the conservative neighborhood women to prepare the teens for arranged marriages. When the oldest sisters are married off, the remaining girls plan their escape from their matrimonial prisons, even as it becomes clear that their lives are in danger for defying the rules of a patriarchal society. My heart was in my throat as I rooted for those courageous girls.

Mustangs should not be broken! Break free of your harness. over fences, hair flapping wildly in the wind like Mustangs running free.

Movie blessings. 
Jana Segal

Mustang Filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven on Women in Film and Her Oscar-Nominated Feminist Escape Movie

OSCAR NEWS: "Mustang" is the only film by a women to be nominated for an Oscar this year. It is nominated for Best Foriegn Film. 

2 comments: said...

Love this Jana!! :-) And Joshua:-) I'm so proud to be your cousin, Can't wait to see this!!!!!! said...
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