Yilmaz Güney’s The Fields of Yuréghir and Arkadaş: From Despair to Hope

Stephen Carruthers


This article discusses two relatively unknown works of Yilmaz Güney in the English-speaking world: Boynu Bükük Öldüler (They Bowed their Heads in Shame),1 a semi-autobiographical novel, which in 1972 won the Orhan Kémel prize, and Arkadaş (The Friend), a film released in Turkey by Güney Film in 1974. More than ten years separate these two works. The Fields of Yuréghir was written during Güney’s imprisonment from 1960 to 1963, a period marked by the military coup of 27 May 1960, which lasted until 1961 and a series of coalition governments from 1961 to 1965 under the premiership of İsmet İnönü (1884-1973) of the Republican Party. Arkadaş was filmed in 1974 against the backdrop of the Turkish invasion of Northern Cyprus in August 1974, a time of great patriotic fervour under the charismatic and left-leaning premiership of Bülent Ecevit (1925-2006).  Güney had by then experienced considerable success as a filmmaker and actor. Arkadaş is a product of this favourable constellation of circumstances, both political and personal, that marked this brief period that was abruptly ended by his imprisonment in September 1974.  The article is divided into the following sections: a short biography of Yilmaz Güney; a summary of The Fields of Yuréghir and Arkadaş; a thematic analysis of the two works under the headings of political engagement, sexual mores, religion, and national identity; and a conclusion.  

Full Text:



Akser, M. (2009). Yilmaz Güney’s beautiful losers: idiom and performance in Turkish political film. In D. Bayrakdar (Ed.), Cinema and politics: Turkish cinema and the new Europe, 142-53. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Arakelova, V. (1999). The Zaza people as a new ethno-political factor in the region. Iran & the Caucasus, 3(4), 397–408. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4030804

Armes, R. (1987). Third world film making and the west. University of California Press.

Aydınlık, Y. (2021). National fantasy, impossible gaze: the Kurdish question in popular Turkish cinema. Turkish Studies, 22(1), 120-40. https://doi.org/10.1080/14683849.2020.1743691

Cicek, O. (2016). Kurdish cinema in Turkey: Imprisonment, memory, and the archive. PhD Dissertation, State University of New York at Binghamton.

Çiftçi, A. (2015). The politics of text and context: Kurdish films in Turkey in a period of political

transformation. PhD Dissertation, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Coryell, S. (1995). Yilmaz Güney : le cinéaste révolté.” Cahiers d’études sur la Méditerranée orientale et le monde turco-iranien, 19. https://doi.org/10.4000/cemoti.1709

Daldal, A. (2013). The impact of neo-realism in Turkish intellectual cinema: The cases of Yılmaz Güney and Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 2/9, 181-186. http://dx.doi.org/10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n9p181

Dino, G., & Grimbert, J. (1986). The Turkish peasant novel, or the Anatolian theme. World Literature Today, 60(2), 266–275. https://doi.org/10.2307/40141696

De Bruijn, P. (2012). Islam goes Hollywood. An exploratory study on Islam in Turkish cinema. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 2(1), 19-41. https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2012.51

Dönmez-Colin, G. (2008). Turkish Cinema.: Identity, Distance and Belonging. Reaktion Books.

Ebiri, B. (2005). Güney Yílmaz. Senses of Cinema, 37. www.sensesofcinema.com/2005/great-directors/guney/

Giles, D., & Sahin, H. (1982). Yilmaz Güney: Revolutionary Cinema in Turkey. Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 27, 35-37. https://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC27folder/YilmazGuney.html

Güney, Y. (1983). Les Champs de Yuréghir (A. Depeyrat, Trans.). J-C. Lattès. (Original work published 1966).

Güney, Y. (Director). (1974). Arkadas. Güney Film.

Güngör, A. C. (2015). From past to present: A cognitive work on ‘New Turkish Cinema’. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 4(1). https://doi/org/10.5195/cinej.2014.121

İnce, H. O., Yarali, A., & Özsel, D. (2009). Customary killings in Turkey and Turkish modernization. Middle Eastern Studies, 45(4), 537–551. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40262688

Kaftan, E. (2000). Identity in Crisis: Turkish Cinema Post 1980. MA Thesis, York University.

Kaya, D. & Azak U. (2015). Crossroads (1970) and the origin of Islamic cinema in Turkey. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 35(2), 257–276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01439685.2015.1027557

Keyder, Ç. (1979). The political economy of Turkish democracy. New Left Review, 1(115).

Önal, H. (2014). From clichés to mysticism: Evolution of religious motives in Turkish cinema. Religions, 5(1), 199–218. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel5010199

Soysal, L. (2011). Friend/Arkadaş. Çiçek Pasaji, Galatasary, Istanbul. Istanbul locations, scene 8. In Ӧ. Köksal (Ed.), World Film Locations: Istanbul (pp. 28-29). Intellect Books.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2021.407


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Stephen Carruthers

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This journal is published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh

ISSN 2159-2411 (print) 2158-8724 (online)