Director: emin alper | Script: emin alper | Cast: Selahattin Paşali (Emre), Ekin Koç (Murat), Selin Yeninci (Zeynep), Erol Babaoğlu (Şahin), Erdem Şenocak (Kemal), ea | Time to play: 129 minutes | Year: 2022
With the opening scenes, director and writer Emin Alper immediately establishes where burning days turn around. Emre is a prosecutor who leaves the city for the (fictional) Turkish city of Yaniklar. The first thing he faces is a wild boar hunt that moves from the wild to the city. Excited villagers run after him and fire shots into the air while shooting in inhabited areas is prohibited. The group behaviour, traditional and limited nature of wild boar hunting is symptomatic of broader social problems.
After discovering the violation of the law, Emre wants to arrest the perpetrators, but later it turns out to be the mayor’s son and a dentist. They bring gifts and it is clear that bribery is normal. Emre only finds out that he is the son of a mayor when they invite him to join them. That night, he gets involved in the rape and assault of Pekmez. However, since he has drunk strong raki, he cannot remember exactly what his role was in this.
strong in burning days is that Alper, despite his obvious metaphors and social criticism, does not fall into the trap of offering the viewer a prefabricated moral judgment. Emre seems like a good character, but the ambiguity about that night continues to surround him. It is not only about the rape of the woman, but also about her relationship with Murat, the owner of the opposition newspaper. Many consider Murat a bisexual pervert who seduces everyone. That fateful night, Murat offered Emre a place to sleep and Emre can remember little about that as well.
There is a disturbing tension between Emre and Murat. Actors Selahattin Paşali and Ekin Koç play their roles brilliantly and with both of them you keep wondering if they can be trusted. Because of that constant doubt, the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat, while there’s relatively little action to be found. The ominous music further reinforces the cutting atmosphere. Menacing sinkholes and constant water shortages give the film an apocalyptic edge.
Due to the constant warm colors in the film and the downtrodden atmosphere, you can also feel the heat that the residents suffer from. In a striking scene, townspeople carry jerry cans to an overturned water tanker and crowd around Emre’s car. They look like zombies. The mob is a threatening entity anyway. burning days. The residents act hostile to anyone who doesn’t fit their image; they are homophobic, mistrustful of common people, and eager to keep the oppressors in power.
Alper offers a vision of political games, the corruption that attracts power and the question of guilt and innocence. He leaves no doubt about his criticism of society, but leaves the viewer to judge the characters. Or rather: he gives the viewer several options to continue thinking. With each of these possibilities, the question becomes: what exactly is someone guilty of, and to what extent is the culprit also a victim?