Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven 2015): Turkey | France | Germany | Qatar

Reviewed by Justin Richard. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016.


Mustang tells a straightforward contemporary issue of women’s rights still repressed in certain areas of our world. The way Deniz Gamze Ergüven tells the story is what nominated the film for an oscar. Five innocent orphan girls are confined under Turkish traditional culture where gender inequality is still very prevalent in some areas of the country. The girls seek fun in their young childhood to teenage years by talking about boys, looking for adventure, and wearing skimpier clothing; but, this was all to be done secretly as this was forbidden.

Opening scene shoots many long shots of the girls and their male class mates as they finish their last day of school. They celebrate at the beach in the ocean, climbing on one another, splashing water on each other all in laughter. These actions where misunderstood and were gossiped throughout the town they lived in. Punishment was enforced from the act and all rights of the girls were shattered. No phones, no school education, no boys, and an end to revealing clothing. The home of the girls became a “wife factory” for forced marriage. They were forced to be trained and molded into a presentable upcoming wife.

Contrastingly, the narrator Lale, resented the new lifestyle and rebelled against the patriarchal rule. Time after time she would sneak away from the imprisoned house leading to only harsher punishments. Every once in while Lale would be caught for leaving the perimeters of the house and actions would be made to restrict her from doing so. The uncle built steal bars around the windows and any open areas someone can climb out of.

Furthermore, Lale’s older sisters were chosen one by one to be married to boys within the area of there house. The older sisters had no choice but to conform, marry, and have sex with these boys. Camera shots are done in medium shots to portray the feeling of being trapped. The angles feel enclosed and closterfobic although the house is quite large. The viewer becomes emotionally attached as they understand the same emotional experience as the characters of being cornered and forced to do what is told. On the other-hand Lale will not conform and be trapped and forcefully be married to a stranger. The viewer can relate to her emotion as when Lale is outside the house exploring what she desires the camera shoots long shots and angles perceiving the feeling of freedom.

With societies ideologies against the girls, it is only them who can achieve the lifestyle they desire. The film ends knowing if they are able to concur the equality crave.

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