We saw a movie last week, the last film the island showed this season. We went primarily to visit Heybeliada’s only movie theater, and because I haven’t seen a movie in over three months except for 20 minutes of the new version of The Nutty Professor while at Elif’s father’s house in Antalya, a film which made me so ill I had to go to another room to lie down. Now Heybeliada was playing The Fifth Element, an entirely moronic and not even handsome-looking sci-if flick.
The film was shown outside, but not at a drive-in, of course, since no there are no cars on Heybeli – instead, projected onto an apartment building behind a market. Halfway through (and mid-sentence), they stopped the film for ten minutes so you could buy soda from the market owner. Instead of eating popcorn, people were chewing sunflower seeds and throwing the shells on the ground.
It was in English with Turkish subtitles, which meant lots of teenagers talking through the film (not like it mattered). Translation always provides interesting challenges, and the suffix-additive grammar and arabesque sentence-structure of Turkish are quite different than English. Near the end of the film, the Milla Jonovich character, a divine being, quickly reads almost the entire encyclopedia on computer, but she only gets up to the letter V. Bruce Willis, her love interest, tells her that there are a great deal of wonderful words beginning with V, such as Valor, Valentine, etc. At this point, the subtitle-writer was faced with a problem, because few Turkish words begin with V. Instead of making the obvious choice of changing it to “U” or “Ü,” which would have offered plenty of words to fit the context, he kept the “V” and chose a few Ottoman-based words like “vuslat” which Elif only knows from Turkish poetry. So when it came up, the audience, in unison, said aloud, “Huh?” before bursting into laughter.
Besides that, the real action happened offscreen. A wave of bats flew overhead. I thought, at first, that it was dirt on the projector, but when they flew over my head, I saw – bats. And later there was a glorious shooting star – right over the top of the screen. The whole audience applauded, whistled, and cheered – it made me glad to be alive.