Before Monmouth University closed because of COVID-19, The World Cinema Series (WCS) planned to screen two films for the remainder of the semester, one of which was “Mustangs” in March. Even though the screening was unfortunately cancelled, you can still screen the film for $2.99 on YouTube here. And to make the streaming feel a little more like watching a film at Pollak Theatre WCS Host Professor of History Thomas Pearson, Ph.D., shared his commentary for “Mustangs.”
Pearson thought “Mustangs” tied closely to this year’s theme: “Women: Power and Identity” because it deals with a group of girls going against traditional norms and oppressive societies. Moreover, considering the main characters are cut off from society, Pearson related to the film to what we’re all going through today in this COVID-19 world. “In the case of “Mustang” it is because five young girls are confined to their uncle’s home because of a belief that their innocent encounter with some boys on the beach on the last day of school violated the norms of modesty and appropriate contact between the sexes,” he said.
Now picture yourself taking a seat in Pollak Theatre. The lights are dim, the large screen is touching the bottom of the stage, and out comes Pearson with a microphone facing the packed crowd ready to watch “Mustangs.” Pearson asks, “Is this thing on?” Then gives us his commentary:
“”Mustang” (2015) is the Turkish-French feature film debut of Deniz Gamze Erguven. Her film is set in the remote coastal village of Inebolu (about 600 km from Istanbul) and the beach scene and its impact is based on Erguven’s personal life,” he says.
After giving the rundown, Pearson shares what you should look for in the film. “I think what viewers of this film should focus on is the strategies of the five adolescent sisters, who band together, to defy the extreme repression and home confinement imposed by their relatives, with varying results.”
“The girls are forbidden from leaving the house, even for school and, in light of how their alleged behavior scandalized their guardians and neighbors, their grandmother and uncle hasten to arrange marriages for them. The oldest sister refuses to marry anyone but her lover, and manages to sneak off to see him. The younger sister, Lale, in many ways is the driver of the story, and the most successful eventually in finding her freedom in spite of her relatives’ plans. It is also interesting to note that of the five sisters in the film, only one had acted in a film before; thus, Erguven’s achievement in putting together this story is impressive and it is fitting that film critics acclaimed it highly, giving “Mustang” a 98 percentrating on Rotten Tomatoes.”
“It was one of five finalists for the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2016 and was very popular with international audiences everywhere except in Turkey where some critics criticized it as depicting” Turkish culture in inaccurate or orientalist ways.” I go along with the critic Jay Weissberg of Variety who describes “Mustang” as” a beautifully mounted story about the demonization of young female sexuality in a remote Turkish village,” Pearson concludes.
And with that, it’s on with the show! Again, you can stream the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKxIqK-nqQo.
Another film that was supposed to be screened was “Persepolis,” which Pearson discusses in a separate article. Additionally, co-host Professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature Priscilla Gac-Artigas, Ph.D. shares her favorite international films everyone should catch at home. The stories can be found on The Outlook’s Entertainment Section webpage.