|Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven|
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. Leap...no...fly over fences, hair flapping wildly in the wind like Mustangs running free.
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.