My Father and My Son (Turkish: Babam ve Oğlum) is a 2005 Turkish drama written and directed by Çağan Irmak about a family torn apart by the 1980 Turkish coup d’état. The film which went on nationwide release on November 18, 2005, became one of the highest-grossing Turkish films in history.
The film is about a young man, Sadik (Fikret Kuşkan) who was raised in the countryside and moves to Istanbul to study agricultural engineering, as encouraged by his father, Hüseyin (Çetin Tekindor). He instead decides to study journalism, against his father’s wishes, who wants Sadik to manage the family farm after he finishes his studies. During his years at university, Sadık becomes a militant in left wing politics. Upon learning about Sadık’s behavior, Hüseyin disowns him.
The film takes place at the very beginning of Turkey’s 1980’s coup. Many films that fall under “New Turkish Cinema” were released between 1995 and 2010 and addressed issues relating to Turkey’s 1980’s coup and/or its residual effect on contemporary Turkey.
The beginning of the film introduces us to a very happy couple; a devoted husband and expecting wife. The image is cut short due to her labor occurring at the exact same time as she delivers her baby. Unable to get to a hospital, she dies giving birth on a lawn as they attempted to walk there. The child survives but Sadik is imprisoned for three years due to his leftist leanings and develops a chronic illness as a result. These multiple elements are typical of New Turkish Cinema.
There is an emphasis on heavy dialog which reveals much about the characters. Dialog is used beautifully to bring the characters to life through natural, everyday interactions, revealing information and individual quirks .
Although there is music, it only used sporadically throughout the film for melodramatic effect. For example, during the beginning melancholic and melodramatic is used during the delivery on the lawn. The music does not only symbolize the impending death of Sadik’s wife, but also the death of the Republic and democracy as a result of the coup.
The “narrating suffering child” trope is common in New Turkish Cinema, reflecting the most innocent of victims during the coup in the 1980s and early 1990s. The story is narrated by Sadik’s son, Deniz, an avid reader with a wild imagination whose wild thoughts are shared with the audience. Sadik decides to move his son back to his childhood home in the country where he feels he can have a better life. This plot-line falls partly under the “nostalgia” type of New Turkish Cinema, which focus on the provincial small-town life of the past, which voice a critique of modern Turkish society through an idealized representation of the past as a time of collective childhood.
There is an emphasis on Deniz’s desire to find a time machine and go back in time in order to see his father when he was a child his age. Furthermore, all of the fear and concerns seem to completely disappear when they arrived at Sadik’s small town as if sheltered from the economic and political turmoil plaguing Turkey at the time. Ultimately, Sadik and his father reconcile right before succumbing to his illness. On their way to the burial, Sadik’s father breaks down in the middle of the road, blaming himself for his death because he let him move to the city in the first place. There are many instances of “What if?,” where the characters wonder how things would be if they had done things differently. During a restaurant scene, Sadik’s childhood friend asks him if he has missed anything by deciding to stay in the countryside instead of moving to the big city.
Deniz becomes depressed after his father’s death, but comes to terms with it when gets his wish of seeing his father at his age through an old video. The whole family cries, laughs, and reminisce on the past, as a result bringing forth healing after Sadik’s death.