The Serpent’s Tale

(Turkish and English dialogue)

(Turkish and English dialogue)

Part intellectual jape, part mystery-thriller, “The Serpent’s Tale” ends up not particularly good on either score. Bilingual feature bow by L.A.-based E. Kutlug Ataman starts falling apart early on, despite its technical confidence, making this of interest only for cross-cultural events.

Intriguing opening posits the pic as a reconstruction of a futuristic novel written long ago by Turkey’s first female Islamic calligrapher but since destroyed, eaten by her servant. Arabic writing slowly coalesces to form the image of a face, a definite no-no in Islamic culture.

Confusing story, jerkily unfolded, has Yank-in-Istanbul Richie Hunter (Daniel Chace) given an ancient compass by a young stranger, Haldun (Metin Uygun), and told to visit rich aristocrat Lamia (Gonen Bozbey). The artifact is proof that Haldun, Lamia’s bastard son, is still alive.

Lamia is hitched to a boorish businessman (Haluk Kurtoglu) who wants to burn down the family mansion and claim the insurance. Meanwhile, her chauffeur tries to steal an ancient scroll (containing the eternal secrets of “death and love”) sought by both a religious sect and a U.S. corporation for which Hunter is secretly working. Though Ataman shows a good eye and reasonably confident handling of action sequences, the whole enterprise is shot in the foot by a silly script and English dialogue segs clumsily handled by the Turkish cast.

Legit star Bozbey has presence as the aristocratic Lamia but makes less impression when stepping outside her own language. As the American, Chace is OK within the confines of his lines. Production values are good on the reported $ 500,000 budget.

The Serpent's Tale

(U.S.-TURKISH)

Production: An Ataman Prods. (Los Angeles/Istanbul) production. (International sales: Ataman Prods., L.A.) Produced, directed, written by E. Kutlug Ataman. Executive producer, Halil Ataman.

Crew: Camera (color), Chris Squires; editor, Annabel Ware; music, Blake Leyh; production design, John DiMinico; sound design (Ultra-Stereo) , Andre Burke; sound, Mike Gitman; associate producers, Richard Holmes, Stefan Schwartz; assistant director, Ahmet Elhan. Reviewed at Istanbul Intl. Film Festival, April 15, 1994. Running time: 82 MIN.

With: With: Gonen Bozbey, Metin Uygun, Daniel Chace, Haluk Kurtoglu, Semiha Berksoy , Eric Pio.

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