Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki - the flawless soap opera.

Yes, that's it, Beirut/NTSC has turned into a middle aged housewife (one of the prime targets for Turkish soap operas). And yes, I admit, I have wanted to write this post for a long time - but then it was too early, and later on it will be late as the series is drawing to a finish.
First, let me emphasize, that no - I do not watch Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (or known in Arabic as 3ala marr al zaman) regularly. I don't say out of shame but more to tell you that if I know what is happening it is through searching the internet. All I see are glimpses of it as I go back and forth in front of the TV, as I am sitting on the sofa zapping and there's a rerun or other such occurrences.
So why am I in full praise mode of it? Well, first as a soap opera it is inherently full of flaws and the action line is almost never believable. But once this is kept in mind, the rest is so incredibly pitch-perfect it leaves one in awe.
First, the whole action happens in the 60s and 70s - and there is not even one hint of wrong props, clothes, setting, or false note that is not the era it is happening in (everything from furniture and accessories is so correct, but also postcards and album sleeves and other ephemera as well). Aesthetically, the art direction is impeccable - never a wrong frame or an image out of tune, all colors are both era-compatible but also vivid and TV-translatable.
But for all the technical prouesse just discussed what really stands out and makes it compelling is the cast. All of them are credible and believable but the mantle goes necessarily to Ayça Bingöl (as the lead actress Cemile Akarsu or in Arabic Jamila). In three seasons, the action fast forwards around a decade, so you can imagine what it is for an actress to play a much older character after three years. What is striking is that the production does not resort to make up and false wrinkles but it is simply a matter of looking at Bingöl who - with superb acting skills - makes you know she is so much older.
This photo for the current season speaks droves about her:
Would you say this is someone born in 1975 only? She looks so much older, the kind of "old" that emanates from being tried and tested in life. This is not to say that the rest of the cast is not up to the task, but it is her personality that gives gravitas to the show, anchoring everyone as they all live in the eye of the storm from one episode to the next.
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