La Pasion Turca
La Pasion Turca is a 1994 Spanish film, written and directed by Vicente Aranda adapted from a popular novel by Antonio Gala. It stars Ana Belen and Georges Corraface. The film is an erotic drama, an exploration of female sexual desire. Highly controversial, La Pasion Turca continues Spanish director Vicente Aranda's fascination with the dark side of love. The film became one of Spain highest grossing films of the 90s and received twelve nominations to the Goya Awards in 1995.
Avila, Spain. Desideria Oilvan, "Desi" is a twenty-five years old woman from a respectable family. After finishing university she is now, getting married to Ramiro, a handsome young man from a solid background and promising future. The couple settle into a placid comfortable life. Ramiro is an attentive but not very passionate husband and after five years of marriage, they begin to worry that they still do not have children.
During Ramiros birthday party, Desideria, her husband and two more couples, decide to travel together to Turkey. While the group is in Istanbul amidst the sensual ambiance of the ancient, teeming city, Desi is smitten by the handsome Turkish guide, Yaman. Unable to put brake to her passion, Desi begins a passionate affair with Yaman. They have sex in the tour bus and from then on Desideria takes advantage of every opportunity during the trip to escape into the arms of her lover. For the first time in her life, she has found sexual fulfillment. After two weeks, the trip is over. Yet, Yaman vows to love his Spanish worshiper forever and the two part ways.
Upon her return home, Desi can hardly concentrate, her thoughts are with Yaman. Her calm marital life has nothing in common with the torrid passion she found with her Turkish lover. She tries to contact him, but failed on her efforts. After a regular trip to the doctor, she learns that she is pregnant. Yet, it is not her husband's child, he is sterile. Desi is adamant to keep the baby in spite of her husband protest. Ramiro knows that he cannot be the father. She offers to divorce him, but, Ramiro agrees to support the child and the couple decides to stay together. Unfortunately, Desis son does not live long; the baby dies of high fever and convulsions. After the funeral, grieve stricken, Desi flees for Istanbul looking to forget the drama she is leaving behind and to be reunited with her lover.
Once in Turkey, she stars to search for Yaman, and she finds him in Capadocia. Yaman is happy to see her again and together they settle in his modest home in Istanbul. They renew their torrid affair and are happy for sometime. Problems star to arise soon. One day an older woman arrives to the house with two children on her charge. She is Yamans mother and those are his children. Only then, Desi knows that he has been married before and had children; she also finds out that there have been other women in the house and Yamans life, before her.
When Desi goes to the Spanish embassy to inquire about her immigration status in Turkey, Paulina, a woman from the embassy, offers her advice and friendship. She later warns Desi about Yaman. Paulina knows about him and his reputation is not good. However, Desi strongly dismiss the unrequited advice.
Desi wants to have another baby after the one she lost, but once pregnant Yaman, in spite of her protest made her have an abortion. The procedure does not go well and Desi ends up unable to have further children.
When he is not working as a tourist guide, Yaman sells Turkish carpet at the bazaar in a family business with his brother. Both of them decide to put Desi to work for their business. Besides selling carpets, she would have to give sexual favors to customers and other carpet dealers. Astonish about this new revelations, Desi with the help of Paulina, flees to Spain.
Back in her country, Desis friend, Laura and her husband pick her up at the airport in Madrid and take her to a hotel, but she is adamant about the choices she has made and refuses further help form her friends. To try to see what it feels to be with another man, Desi has sex with Ivan, a man she has just met, but her failure to feel the same she feels with Yaman, makes her return to his arms in Turkey.
Yaman is angry with her because she left and he beats her. She does not care, wanting only to be with him. Yaman accepts her once again, but their relationship turns even darker. Now, Desi willingly accepts to participate in Yamans dirty dealings and even have a sexual relationship behind his back, but Yamans keeps his sexual domination over her.
Desi helps Yaman to make amends to another carpet dealer that he has tried to deceive. After she is instrument of the sexual pleasure to the voyeuristic old man, he gives her a small gun as a gift.
Returning home that night, Desi finds Yaman having sex with a couple. Unashamed, he drags them to a bar where a belly dancer is performing. During the dance, Yaman flirts with Desi and the other woman and Desi shots him between the legs. Yamn falls to the floor badly hurt, but allow Desi to escape. He orders her to flee but never to return. Desi, carrying her bags, leaves Istanbul for good. A part of her has died there.
In 1994, Andres Vicente Gomez, a Spanish film producer, had the idea to adapt to the big screen, the popular novel La Pasion Turca, written by Antonio Gala. The year before he had produced Vicente Arandas movie: El Amante Bilingue, a film adaptation of a novel written by Juan Marse. El Amante Bilingue (1993) had been a critical and commercial disappointment; nevertheless, producer and director were eager to make another film together. Andres Vicente Gomez , thought that if he had made a mistake with the previous film adaptation he now was sure Vicente Aranda was the right director to adapt La Pasion Turca into a film. The producer had to convince Antonio Gala who originally would have wanted, Mario Camus to direct the film. Canovas Belchi, Joaquin (ed.), : Miradas Sobre el Cine de Vicente Aranda, Murcia: Universidad de Murcia, 2000, p. 71.
Aranda explains his reason to make La Pasion Turca. After making two risky films of little commercial success: El Amante Bilingue and Intruso (1993). I wanted to make a film that would find an audience, and it was like that. Canovas Belchi, Joaquin (ed.), : Miradas Sobre el Cine de Vicente Aranda, Murcia: Universidad de Murcia, 2000, p. 71.
In the process of adapting the novel to a feature film, there were disagreements between Aranda and Antonio Gala. Vicente Aranda remembers: When Gala read the script he said that it was like a three without leaves. That did stick to my mind, because to think that a telegram has leaves is asking for too much, and a film script it is like that. Canovas Belchi, Joaquin (ed.), : Miradas Sobre el Cine de Vicente Aranda, Murcia: Universidad de Murcia, 2000, p. 71.
Further disagreements aroused when Vicente Aranda changed the end of the story.
In the novel, Desideria commits suicide, while in the film, she leaves Istanbul to nowhere. Aranda explains, Gala understood that the story could only have ended in suicide. On the other hand, I am against suicide, I cant help it. I argued that what it seemed to me indispensable, as thesis of the film, was that passion can destroy but it cannot be denied, and my solution eventually prevailed. . I filmed two different endings and after several screenings, the producer decided to leave the one I had proposed. . When the time came to release the film on DVD, I had the idea to include both endings. Now La Pasion Turca is often transmitted on Television, showing also the alternative ending. .
La Pasion Turca began to be filmed on May 16, 1994. Canovas Belchi, Joaquin (ed.), : Miradas Sobre el Cine de Vicente Aranda, Murcia: Universidad de Murcia, 2000, p. 71. It premiered in Spain on December 16, 1994. It was filmed in Turkey (Istanbul and Capadocia) and in Spain with a budge of 360 millions pesetas.
Vicente Aranda remembers production in Istanbul fondly The shooting in Istanbul was very pleasant for all. We were in a good hotel, everything was very cheap and we used to go shopping to that wonderful place that is the Great BazaarWe were accused of using stereotypes. What was Turkey for us? Basically, belly dancers. In fact, something similar happens in Spain when foreign directors come here to make films. Showing Barcelona, they present a mule carrying pitchers lead by an old man in black. I began to reflect in the unavoidable convenience to used stereotypes as synthesis of element within the narrative. .
The character of Desideria Oilvan was based on a real woman even tought Antonio Gala vehemently denied it. La Pasion Turca, DVD. Interview in the program La Gran Ilusion . She was a woman from a well off family from Lerida. She was married and during a holyday in Turkey fell in love with a local man, leaving everything for him. It was revealed to the film crew, during shooting in the Grand Bazaar, that the real Desideria had a store there selling carpets. In front of the store she had a Spanish flag and a sign Catalan is spoken here. Vicente Aranda recalls that out of courtesy, he tried to inform her that a film, slightly based on her life, was being made, but she declined any contact with them. La Pasion Turca, DVD. Interview in the program La Gran Ilusion . The story shown ,both in the book and in the film, is of course very different than the real one, and the real Desidera enjoyed a happy life with the Turkish man she married. . La Pasion Turca, DVD. Interview in the program La Gran Ilusion .
Originally, Victoria Abril, Vicente Arandas favorite actress, was going to start in the film, but she was unavailable having going to Hollywood to make Barry Levinsons Jimmy Hollywood. The role of Desi was offered to Spanish singer an actress Ana Belen who is better known internationally as a singer, La Passion Turca is considered by many as her best movie role. Vicente Aranda remembers I was very happy, Anna seemed to me the right actress to play the role. Ana Belen and Vicente Aranda became good friends during filming and both remembered it fondly. They would work together again in Libertarias (1995).
Georges Corraface plays the role of Yaman, the handsome Turkish tourist guide, whose sexual powers made Deisdera falls madly in love with him. Georges Corraface is a French- Greek actor who has had an international career in film most notably in Escape from L.A. and [[Christopher Columbus: The Discovery|Christopher Columbus]]. He was very happy working for the first time in Spanish. The story and the character of Yaman attracted him. A man he describes as sadly unable to love and hold that feeling. He gests bored and needs to twist the felling in a pervert way to keep the relationship alive. La Pasion Turca, DVD. Interview In the Program la Gran Ilusion .
Ramon Madaula, a Catalan actor, plays Ramiro, Desis husband. Sylvia Munt, who won the Goya Award as best actress for her role in Alas de Mariposa (1991), took the role of Laura, Desis friend. Loles Leon, had the small role of a Spanish embassy employee, she has worked for Pedro Almodovar in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and for Vicente Aranda in El Amante Bilingue (1993) and Libertarias (1996).
Ana Belen (Desideria)
Georges Corraface (Yaman)
Ramon Madaula (Ramiro)
Silvya Munt (Laura)
Helio Pedregal (Artuto )
Blanca Apilanez (Felisa)
Francis Lorenzo (Marcelo)
Loles Leon (Paulina)
The film is an erotic drama, an exploration of female sexual desire, a theme that Vicente Aranda explored again with La Mirada del Otro (1998) but not as successfully. The destructive power of uncontrollable passion and sexual desire also appeared as theme in Arandas films : Amantes (1991), Intruso (1993) and Celos (1999) .
La Pasion Turca & other films
In essence, La Pasion Turca is similar to Arandas later film La Mirada del Otro (1998), both films focus on an independent-minded woman's search for sexual fulfillment, which borders on obsession - though the details, obviously, are different. Like Laura Morante in the later film, Ana Belen here delivers a committed central performance. La Pasion Turca slightly resembles,Shirley Valentine (1989), a play adapted into a film, in which a middle-aged, working class, housewife lifes is transformed after a holiday abroad.
The film had its premiered in December 1994 and was a great commercial success 1.200.000 tickets were sold in Spain alone and the film made 625 million pesetas at the box office.
Producer, Andres Vicente Gomez recalls the success of the film I think Vicente Aranda made a great movie, with the limitation force upon him with a melodramatic novel. He resolved those problems brilliantly. The actors were great, the story was intriguing and Vicente Aranda took advantage of the location and all the resources he was provided with. La Pasion Turca was a great success and I was very pleased. All the money I have lost with El Amante Bilingue, I made back with this film. Canovas Belchi, Joaquin (ed.), : Miradas Sobre el Cine de Vicente Aranda, Murcia: Universidad de Murcia, 2000, p. 71.
Among critics, La Pasion Turca has had its fare share of (outspoken) critics and admirers. The film was highly controversial not only for its many erotic scenes but for having the director changed the end of the film from was it was on the original novel.
Awards and nominations
Two Goya Awards: Best Music Score (Jose Nieto) and Best Production Supervision (Jose Luis Escolar) (1995).
ADIRCAE Award Best Actress (Ana Belen) 1995
Saint Jordi Awards Best supporting Actress Silvya Munt (1995)
Fotogramas de Plata: Best Actress (Ana Belen) 1995
Twelve nominations to the Goya Awards: Best Film, Director, Lead Actress, Supporting Actress, Score, Cinematography, Make up, Production Design, Sound, Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design and Production Supervision.
La Pasion Turca has been released on Region 2 in a double DVD set. The film appears on disc 1 while all of the extras are on disc 2. Aside from a theatrical trailer, a TV spot, a gallery of deleted scenes (in Spanish only), photo gallery, filmographies, making of (in Spanish only), there is also an alternate ending (also in Spanish only) which reinstates the original ending by Aranda reflecting the manner in which the book La Pasion Turca is based upon ends.
Yaman - Love is like trade. A good lover must fulfill two obligations: First, never loose, keep what you have. Second, never stake everything on one card. You must not risk love in its entirety, you must keep some reserves, just in case. If you don't do that, you become the other person's slave, and believe me, the other person eventually gets tired of his slave
Yaman - Love is a game, which brightens our lives. To really do that, its caresses must last. It must pervade everything just as a perfume does.
Caparros Lera, Jose Maria: El Cine de Nuestros Dias 1994 - 1998, Ediciones Rialp, 1999, ISBN 8432132330
Canovas Belchi, Joaquin (ed.), Varios Autores,: Miradas sobre el cine de Vicente Aranda, Murcia: Universidad de Murcia, 2000.P. Madrid
Colmena, Enrique: Vicente Aranda, Catedra, Madrid, 1986, ISBN 84-376-1431-7