Perhaps the highest praise that I can give Reha Erdem's award-winning Times And Winds is that it it made me very frightened of ever becoming a father. Obviously, as somewhat recent newlyweds, my wife and I have discussed having children, and I have imagined what it'd be like to run around with my kids, teaching them to play catch, answering life's hard questions, passing on my accumulated wisdom, and so on. You know, the fun, Hallmark type of stuff. However, I've never thought much about discipline, of how I might punish my children for the wrong they but in a loving, truly parenting manner.
There's a Japanese proverb that says there are four things to be feared in life: earthquakes, thunder, fires, and fathers. This fear -- and hatred -- of fathers and their hard ways is the core theme of Times And Winds. Set in a remote Turkish village located high in the mountains, the film primarily focuses on two young pre-teen boys who are always chafing under the rule of their fathers.
Ömer despises his father, a local imam respected throughout the village, because the man dotes on Ömer's younger brother and treats his eldest worse than dirt. Yakup is ashamed of his father, who is constantly berated by Yakup's grandfather for being a terrible and lazy son. That changes, however, the moment Yakup sees his father peeking at the pretty young schoolteacher who happens to be the object of Yakup's adolescent fantasies.
However, other adults also prove to be as heavy-handed. In contrast to Ömer and Yakup, their classmate Yildiz is the apple of her father's eye, but her relationship with her mother is frosty at best. When Yildiz catches her parents making love, the jealousy causes her to break down in tears. Meanwhile, the town's shepherd is an orphan that is abused by one of the village's men, who is chastised by the village elders even as they neglect and beat their own sons.
Much of the film is spent simply settling into the rhythms of this mountain village, and while the lack of a strong narrative might prove frustrating at times, it also allows the viewer ample time to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and countrysides of this remote corner in Turkey.
Much like my discovery of Iran's beauty through that country's cinema, the views here are often eye-opening. There are many, many scenes that are simply worth studying for extended periods of time; lovely shots that spin around the town's minarest of Ömer's father calls the village to prayer, dreamlike scenes of the children asleep in the grass, a gorgeous panoramic shot of the aforementioned orphan as he tends the village's sheep, and so on. Adding to the gorgeous visuals is a an overwhelming score by noted composer Arvo Part, which lends even the most juvenile of shenanigans -- watching donkeys mate, sneaking off to smoke cigarettes -- a certain solemn, elegaic tone.
At times, the tone of the film does get a bit too portentous and heavy, a fact that isn't helped by the somewhat wooden acting of the two young leads. But when things crystallize, they do so to great effect. There's a running storyline concerning Ömer's attempts to kill his father, some of them comical (opening the windows in his parents' bedroom so his father will catch cold), some of them psychotic (gearing up to push his father off of a cliff). And one scene where Yildiz makes a terrible mistake while caring for her newborn brother caused many gasps in the audience I was with.
Unfortunately, the weighty, overbearing tone of the film does mean the ending, which might otherwise be cathartic, is somewhat overshadowed and underwhelming. But as a pure mood piece laced through with introspective thoughts concerning the roles of fathers, and the terrible consequences when they abuse their authority, Times And Winds can be quite powerful and haunting.