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2008 – Dot [Nokta] (78′)

Category : Films | Back

dot_nokta_poster

CREDITS

Written and Directed By :

Dervis Zaim

Producer:

Dervis Zaim • Baran Seyhan

Director Of Photography:

Ercan Yilmaz

Music:

Mazlum Cimen

Art Director:

Natali Yeres

Post Production Responsible:

Ulas Simsek

Actors:

Mehmet Ali Nuroglu • Serhat Kilic •Settar Tanriogen

Sener Kokkaya • Mustafa Uzunyilmaz • Nadi Guler

Numan Acar • Beyazit Gulercan  •  Begum Birgoren •  Hikmet Karagoz

SYNOPSIS

Ahmet decides to help his friend Selim to sell an invaluable Koran and family heirloom. But when he brings in his mafia contacts, they kidnap Selim and plan to blackmail his father, Veli Hodja, into handing over the 13th century Koran. Veli Hodja concedes to their demands but his son’s kidnappers murder Selim all the same. Ahmet then kills all the thugs in the ensuing chaos.

After a time, Ahmet considers tracking down Selim’s family and telling them the truth. But then he learns that Selim’s father, Veli Hodja, is dead. He then approaches Selim’s uncle, Hamdullah Hodja, but can’t bring himself to tell him the truth. Instead, Ahmet gives Mumin, the old man’s helper, a partial account of the past.

When Mumin attacks him, Ahmet manages to escape to the salt lake. He means to go to Veli Hodja’s house and leave the Koran with his daughter. On the way, he stumbles across an older man looking for his mentally ill son. The old man takes pity and gives him a ride in his motorbike trailer.

After a while, Ahmet leaves the old man, continuing alone and on foot to Veli Hodja’s house. But before long, he falls into the hands of Mümin and Hamdullah Hodja, who interrogate him and seize the missing part of Koran. At the same time, Ahmet offers to show the men where Selim is buried. Hamdullah Hodja then forgives him on the basis that he has suffered enough torment.

After pointing out where Selim is buried, Ahmet tries to get away, but is prevented by exhaustion. In the end, he is completely on his own in the vastness of the salt lake.

Director’s note:

Thinking behind the film’s visual structure.

‘Dot’ tells the story of a man who regrets an offence he committed in the past and now wants to be exonerated. The film explores his struggle between the conflicting values of past and present. It is the story of a character growing, a character changing for the better.

In this respect, it could be said that the story possesses a sense of logic and belief that matches certain of the values and formal considerations fundamental to calligraphy. One of these is the concept of ihcam that I will explain a little later.

A film comprising a single fluid shot

The film is based on certain of the formal qualities associated with Ottoman calligraphy and endeavour to build a cinematic narrative that reflects this atmosphere.

One of the concepts I have borrowed from traditional Ottoman calligraphy to achieve this is that of ihcam. In calligraphy, the term ihcam refers to forming a character in a single stroke. When calligraphers employ ihcam, they produce a motif or composition in one continuous stroke.

In the same way that a calligrapher might choose to produce a motif in one stroke, I plan to present the film as an uninterrupted narrative, to set it up as a single fluid shot to give the sense of continuity.

Events within the film, whether past or present, are narrated as though happening in real time. There is no interruptions, no cuts, meaning the story is told ‘in one go’ to evoke the intended sense of continuity. Even in the case of flashbacks, I plan to carry on using this same technique. While, for instance, the film’s central character Ahmet operates in the present tense, he occasionally recalls the past, at which point the narrative will backtrack to reveal those past events shaping his present experience. But in portraying the past and present, the film is deliberately eschew formal cuts or other ransition techniques used to differentiate the two tenses. I attempt instead to present events in the single stroke that characterises ihcam so that events elide into an unbroken continuum. In this sense, time and place is constructed as an interconnected whole.

Characteristics of Ottoman calligraphy

Mention of calligraphy tends to evoke artistic handwriting in Arabic script. Generally speaking, the plastic arts had more of a decorative quality in Islamic culture and rarely extended beyond the artisanal context. As in Islamic society, the painting and sculpture traditions of the west had little place in the Ottoman state. Yet the fact that western art failed to flourish also meant that calligraphy became the most prominent craft in Islamic culture and the one that underwent the most striking process of aestheticisation. This is perhaps more understandable given the importance that calligraphy gained on account of the Koran. Unlike the art work that traditionally decorates churches, mosques are ornamented with calligraphic motifs written in Arabic script. In every mosque in Turkey, for example, the dome is surrounded by eight panels bearing the names Allah, Muhammed, Ebubekir, Ömer, Osman, Ali, Hasan and Hüseyin respectively. In other words, calligraphy has become the only legitimate symbol of divinity and sanctity in Islam.

There is value at this point in mentioning briefly the difference between calligraphy and oriental scripts. Chinese and Japanese characters have deviated little from the pictographic origins that characterise most alphabets and as such have much in common with calligraphy. Ultimately, the Arabic alphabet originated from Egyptian hieroglyphics, another example of pictography, and grew from the branch of alphabets associated with Semitic communities in Phoenicia. It would therefore be fair to say that after a time, the Arabic alphabet began to deviate fairly radically from pictorial writing. But when calligraphy started to take off, the Arabic alphabet underwent an abstract form of aestheticisation that had nothing to do with pictorial illustrations.

A number of master calligraphers flourished in Persia. But once the Ottoman state evolved into an empire and effectively became the face of Islamic culture, it was Ottoman calligraphers who enriched and enhanced the art form to a degree never before seen in Arabic and Persian centres. Even today, Turkey and specifically Istanbul are regarded as one of the leading centres, if not the leading centre of calligraphy.

Relationship between the film and calligraphy

The film takes its subject from calligraphy; it is also shaped by the art form in terms of both form and content. The majority of Islamic poets interpreted everything in life as a book or a verse and endeavoured to see calligraphy in everything animate and inanimate that existed in life. The value system shaping Ahmet, the lead character’s central dilemma thus derives from the moral values typically associated with a calligrapher. Ahmet is, after all, a calligrapher, but one who has committed murder. He is psychologically tormented as a result, and his reading of many of the objects around him is coloured by this perspective. One of the questions posed through the character of Ahmet is this: at what point in life can we be said to have fulfilled our moral responsibilities? Do we actually fulfil our obligations if we take action in the right direction but fail to obtain the intended outcome? Is it right to blame people for things that go awry when they have done all they can to make them right? In short, the film focuses on one of the fundamental questions of moral philosophy. The crux of the film could be described as an examination of the link between actions, the people behind those actions and their consequences.

Focusing on just one of these areas could produce misleading consequences. If morality was concerned with consequences alone, a bizarre situation could result whereby even the most well-meaning person could sometimes do wrong. But on the other hand, it would be just as bizarre if morality had nothing to do with consequences. How could the consequences of our actions have no importance?