September 27, 2007
My final screening in the retrospective is also coincidentally Zeki Demirkubuz's latest feature, Destiny, a brooding and elegantly rendered film that takes on an even richer texture within the context of the creative evolution (and maturation) of his body of work. The story of Destiny proves to be an already familiar one: a shy, but affable rug salesman, Bekir (Ufuk Bayraktar) a son from a wealthy family falls in love with a beautiful, but troubled young woman, Ugur (Vildan Atasever) who, in turn, is in love with an unrepentant neighborhood thug named Zagor. In an attempt to remain close to her jailed lover, Ugur abandons her family in Istanbul and begins her life as a drifter, settling in a town near Zagor's prison where she finds occasional work as a lounge singer (or more appropriately, peddling her sexuality), until circumstances (often, of Zagor's own doing) forces his relocation into another facility, and with it, her own abrupt move to again be near him. And through it all, Bekir, now having lost his job and bankrupted the family business that had been entrusted to him by consenting to financially support Ugur in her impossible pursuit to secure her lover's freedom, obligingly, if reluctantly, follows her to the new town on his own personal journey to nowhere. It is the extended monologue that the middle-aged Bekir would reveal to Yusuf seemingly some twenty years later in Demirkubuz's earlier film, Innocence, the sad autobiography of how he has squandered his life over the past two decades to be near the object of his unrequited love. In a way, the intersection of these stories is also a destiny - Bekir and Ugur's double entendred return to the innocence and purity of first love. However, Demirkubuz's tale is a dislocated purity, one that exists not only in the absolute, but also in the absence of a moral center. In this sense, the couple's shared, yet isolating obsession is the embodiment of a Sisyphean ritual for which, as Albert Camus's essay, The Myth of Sisyphus suggests, the struggle itself is an act of conscious defiance and becomes ennobling. Framed against the atemporality of Bekir and Ugur's quixotic, if self-destructive existence, the absurdity of their resolute, yet elusive eternal quest itself becomes a paradox, where transcendence lies, not in the pursuit of destiny, but in the struggle against it.