Romeos and Juliets in 1970s Turkish Cinema

Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet (1595) is one of the most touching tragedies about the fatal web of relations and circumstances that led to the “woe” of the two “star-crossed” lovers.

Following Zefirelli’s 1968 adaptation, the play and its adaptation once again attracted Turkish directors.

Domesticising the play’s setting to the Turkish countryside, Memduh Ün’s Murat ile Nazlı (1972) depicts how a bloodfeud seperates two lovers for many years only to re-unite them in their old age. While the use of Leroy Holmes instrumental version of Nino Rota’s music in Zeferelli’s movie naturally creates a proximity of both Shakespeare’s play and Zeferelli’s adaptation with Ün’s serious movie, the choice of having a happy ending for Murat ile Nazlı could be considered a Turkish reply that happiness is possible.

Orhan Aksoy’s Hayat Bayram Olsa (1973) is similarly domesticising Shakespeare’s play, but now into a small town in the seaside where again feuding families try to prevent a happy ending for the lovers. Compared to Ün’s vision, Aksoy’s movie is more in the comic mode and presents the fake deaths of the lovers really as fake ones to send with the families the didactic message that lovers should not be prevented from loving each other. Once again leaving out the deaths of the lovers, the movie, as an allusion to its title, sends the message that every day should be like a holiday in revelry and happiness.

Enjoy the movies for yourself!

How to Cite:

Öğütcü, Murat. “Romeos and Juliets in 1970s Turkish Cinema.” Turkish Shakespeares. 2021.

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