Review: ‘Drejan’

An endless blood feud destroys a remote Turkish village in "Drejan," which has a plot as dramatic as a soap opera and an iron-willed heroine who could have been played by Joan Crawford. Pic should have some exotica appeal for smaller fests and ethnic TV webs. The Drejan are an ancient tribe who have maintained their customs, good and bad, down through the ages. In a rapid and none-too-carefully edited opener, Silan (Serpil Cakmakli) and her brother-in-law Davut (Levent Inanir) murder a member of a rival clan who shot Silan's husband. This blood feud is opposed both by the local religious authority and by the Turkish police, who arrest the pair and send them to prison for a mere five years.

After going through the classic Turkish film sequence of prison-bus-village, veteran helmer Sahin Gok picks up the story with Silan and Davut’s difficult return to local life. Young hotheads in the rival clan are still thirsting for revenge. As far as blood feuds go, jail doesn’t count, so both their lives are in constant peril.

More interesting than the vendetta, which even 95% of the characters find senseless, is pic’s portrayal of Silan. As played by the fiery Cakmakli, she’s a woman caught between the patriarchal law of the land (she’s re-wedded at a drop of the elders’ hat), her contempt for outdated rules and her own passionate nature.

Pic’s point of view regarding Silan and the elders is a little confused, and the meaning of certain gestures won’t always be clear to foreign auds. In one scene, Silan furiously faces the rival clansmen and tosses her head scarf (representing her honor) in the air. By picking it up, Crazy Sulo (likable thesp Gani Savata) is bound to protect her for the rest of her life.

Tech work is middling. There are some stirring locations in the outbacks of Anatolia, eastern Turkey. A horseback pageant adds some color to the closing scenes.




A Can Film production. (International sales: Can Film, Istanbul.) Directed, written by Sahin Gok.


Camera (color), Ertunc Senkay; editor, Mevlut Kocak; music, Metin Karatas. Reviewed at Istanbul Film Festival, April 8, 1997. Running time: 85 MIN.


Silan ..... Serpil Cakmakli Davut ..... Levent Inanir Crazy Sulo ..... Gani Savata
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