The Turkish Santo And Captain
Turkey 1973 colour
Fullscreen, in Turkish with English subtitles
aka 3 Dev Adam/“Three Mighty Men”
Director T Firket Ucak
Cast Aytekin Akkaya, Yuvuz Slekman
Welcome to Instanbul in the 1970s, where men roamed the streets in flares and regulation mutton chops and mustaches, smoking was regarded as one of the erotic arts, and popular culture is fair game - even masked wrestlers from Mexico City couldn't walk the streets without encountering Turkish film producers with large rolls of flypaper trying to snare a costumed superhero or two. In the case of this movie, they found three - and possibly more - in the baffling "Three Mighty Men", or as we prefer to call it, The Turkish Santo and Captain America vs Spiderman.
Long-time Schlock Treatment fiends will recognize the term "Turksploitation", a signal that our Ottoman friends will no doubt be appropriating Western iconography and mutating it with their own unique sensibilities to create a strange and exciting new cinematic hybrid. Its culture is a schizophrenic one: both modernist and centuries-old, a true crossroads of East and West, and symptomatic of a colonial outpost with transplanted cultures, like Mexico, India, the Philippines, from which similarly strange hybrids thrive. For us Western audiences, we are very much the foreigner, the outsider to these seemingly jarring cultural dislocations, astounding leaps of logic, and an almost free-form jazz interplay of icons and signifiers. For us, part of the pleasure of viewing such films is to see familiar figures reflected back from an amusement park hall of mirrors: either too tall or too squat, with Borat mustaches and the costumes wrong, and in languages so impenetrable even subtitles can't do them justice.
But where do "inspiration" and "appropriation" end, and carbon copying begin? There's a knowingness, a kind of tacit agreement on the part of audiences and filmmakers alike, when it comes to outright thievery; it's a gleeful, rebellious act of cultural hijacking as much as it is an impotent resignation of defeat, as if stealing hubcaps and throwing rotten eggs at the ever-rolling Western juggernaut would ever halt the machine, if only to stop crushing its victims under the wheels for a brief moment. It's a filmic Stockhome Syndrome in which you resent as much as fetishize your attacker - in this instance, Superman and everything in the Western world that hegemaniacal rapist represents. Which means falling to your knees and fumbling for his cock in his tights with one hand, and plunging a Kryptonite dagger into the back of his leg with the other.
...Which brings us to one of
Spiderman this time is a supervillain called "Spider", a slightly odd creature with pale eyeshadow visible under his scarlet executioner hood's eyebrows, perched atop an ill-fitting green body stocking. Described as a "child-minded lunatic" by police, he's also mastermind of an international plan to sell art treasures and launder counterfeit currency, as far as the
"You speak Turkish well," local police chief Orhan tells Santo. True, no-one bats an eyelid when Captain