Remake, Remix, Rip-Off: About Copy Culture & Turkish Pop Cinema, 2014
Directed by Cem Kaya
Turkey in the 1960s and 70s was one of the biggest producers of film in the world even though its film industry did not have enough written material to start with. In order to keep up with the demand, screenwriters and directors were copying scripts and remaking movies from all over the world.
Turkish cinema from the 60s through to the late 1980s has always had a huge cult following, but through the rise of the Internet more people have discovered this bizarre brand of cinema. Due to a lack of copyright laws in the country, filmmakers were allowed to take films from the West and remake, remix and rip them off to create “new” movies. Cem Kaya’s Remake, Remix, Rip-Off looks at this incredible story.
The documentary boasts an impressive roster of interviews from those involved in the time period, and the movie’s real strength are the stories that these people tell. Just when you think this subculture couldn’t get any weirder, another story is told that will shock and surprise you. There’s a hilarious interview with the lone composer for these movies, who only got work because he owned sountrack records of Western movies which he could rip-off to use in Turkish cinema. Kaya’s clear love of the genre is evident as there is a huge amount of clips taken from these films to back up the points made by his interviewees. There is a superb montage of clips to tell a “typical Turkish film story” that demonstrates just how similar each movie was.
And it’s unsurprising really. The documentary tells us that these filmmakers were pumping out over 300 films a year and there were only three scriptwriters active and a handful of directors. So it should come as no big shock that they not only ripped off the West, but also themselves. In some cases the filmmaker would just make a Turkish remake of a movie (E.T., The Exorcist, Superman for example), while some will simply rip footage from a Western movie and use it in his own like The Man Who Saved The World, which liberally uses the Death Star attack scenes from Star Wars.
But what is disappointing about Remake, Remix, Rip-Off is that it doesn’t feel like it gives enough time to each subject. For how popular they are, there is only one brief section dedicated to the remakes, which are arguably the most interesting part of the story. There is a solid amount of time given to the remixs and rip-offs (including a great conversation about their superhero character with The Phantom’s mask, Superman’s top and Batman’s belt buckle), but the remakes are given virtually nothing in comparison. Perhaps there wasn’t enough to say on the subject, but it is disappointing. Instead the movie chooses to focus on how Turkish cinema is in a 2015 landscape, which is inherintly less interesting. Furthermore, the film suffers from some time gaps, where they suddenly jump back in time to cover the sex boom that took over Turkish pop culture which, while interesting, was a change of pace from what we’d just been watching.
With that said, Remake, Remix, Rip-Off: About Copy Culture & Turkish Pop Cinema is tremendously entertaining and the incredible level of footage from these bizarre movies is worth the price of admission alone. Not the best documentary you’ll see this year, but certainly the most in-depth.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.