"No matter where we are, we all are prisoners of the state," says Yilmaz Guney, maker of "Yol," a film that portrays Turks as tattered people on trains, inhaling deeply from cheap cigarettes. Guney, an escaped Turkish dissident, tacked on this opening pitch because the point seems lost in translation.
There's no doubt that he's a talented professional, with a distinctive technique -- "Yol" won best film at the 1982 Cannes Festival. But Guney has a problem beyond plot and players here: political propaganda. He wants the audience to behold the evil of the Turkish military state. What "Yol" shows is not political oppression, but cultural perversion.
It follows three prisoners, on leave to visit their families, through a week of disaster and grief. The nonlinear plot progression and flashbacks in Turkish with subtitles make it a visual maze.
But just who's being oppressed here? Mostly women, and by Guney's "heroes." (Apparently, the state's major cruelty -- apart from banning "Yol" in Turkey, where it was produced -- is a need to check passports often. Only the Kurds seem to suffer real violence during the unattributed shelling of their Syrian border village.)
One of the parolees is a murderer who plans to use his leave to kill his unfaithful wife for the sake of family honor. He's welcomed back from a warm, clean prison by her family, who've kept her tied up in a pen for eight months. Finally, he drags her through a high mountain pass in freezing temperatures without coat or gloves until she dies, begging the creep to forgive her.
Another man and his wife are nearly torn apart by an angry mob when they're caught having sex in a public urinal. Luckily, they're saved, so that her brother can come along and kill them both.
Start this revolution without me.