A lonely and beautiful country: reflecting upon the state of oblivion in Turkey through Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Three Monkeys

Suner A.

INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES, vol.12, no.1, pp.13-27, 2011 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14649373.2011.532937
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.13-27
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: No


Through an in-depth analysis of internationally acclaimed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 2008 film Three Monkeys (Uc Maymun), this article discusses the politics of Ceylan's cinema against the backdrop of the current memory debate in Turkey. Turkey has a troubling relationship with its past. The process of the foundation and the early development of the Turkish nation-state included traumatic events during which ethnic and religious minorities were massacred, deported, or encouraged to migrate. There have also been several violent incidents in Turkey's subsequent history that include massacres, mass killings, political assassinations, as well as military coups. It is a widely held opinion that social memory in Turkey is based on forgetting and denial, that is, Turkish society deals with the troubling events in its past by turning a blind eye to them. Drawing upon the question of how it may be possible to make the traces of forgetting and silence observable, this paper argues that Ceylan's film, despite its seemingly apolitical story, has indeed profound political connotations since its narrative and visual organization serve to display the prevailing mood of silence, oblivion and complicity in Turkey.