Nicknamed the “Turkish Alain Delon” and well known to fans of nanars, comedian Cüneyt Arkın has died at the age of 85. A look back at his career with Fabien Gardon, creator of the Nanarland site and host of the program “Escale à Nanarland”.
While the actor Cüneyt Arkın left us this week at the age of 85, a look back at the career of the man nicknamed the “Turkish Alain Delon”, known for having played in more than 300 feature films, and in particular in a real plagiarism of Star Wars .
In order to better understand who this extraordinary actor really was, we were able to talk to Fabien Gardon, creator of the essential site Nanarland and show host Stopover in Nanarland that the deans of AlloCiné know well.
Discover Nanarland, Fabien Gardon’s site dedicated to film nanars…
AlloCiné: Why was Cüneyt Arkın nicknamed the “Turkish Alain Delon”?
Fabien Gardon: Simply because the resemblance is striking, especially young. When we compare the photos, there is an air. The comparison also comes from the fact that the two actors somewhat symbolize the “alpha male” (or at least a certain form of virility) in their respective countries.
When we learned of the existence of Cüneyt Arkın on the site, I had talked about it to Turkish acquaintances who had immigrated to France. Some had confirmed to me that when they were very small and they came across a film ofAlain Delon on TV they thought it was Cüneyt Arkın on screen.
It’s hard to realize in France, but how popular was he?
It is difficult because the success of Cüneyt Arkın has not been exported much further than Turkey. Only three or four films have been translated here. There, his career was such that several generations of people saw his performances, in cinema or on TV.
It’s a very prolific popular cinema that turned quickly, sometimes without really a budget, and where Cüneyt Arkın was a bit on all fronts: action films, obviously, but also adventure, romance, dramas , etc. Therefore, his death caused a stir in Turkey. If we had to compare with a French actor, we would have to imagine the career of a Belmondo… if he had shot 200 more films.
What were the main characteristics of his films, the elements that made them special compared to other nanars?
When we discovered these films on Nanarland, it was something we had really never seen before: ultra-cut but illogical editing, frenetic but incomprehensible action scenes, a soundtrack with no real mixing, a meaning of very random copyright. It’s sometimes hard to see for people who are not “honed”, because all of this gives something hilarious, generous, funny but, it must be said, tiring.
That said, he also shot in other nanar films, but still less exhausting to watch, such as the series of Battal Gazi, for example. To admit it all, we are far from having gone through all of his filmography.
How much did his Turkish Star Wars plagiarize the saga of George Lucas?
From memory, most of the spaceship footage from the movie Star Wars are projected behind the actor, who is content to be filmed with a moped helmet, pretending to pilot a flying machine. It’s downright theft, not plagiarism, let’s face it.
Do you have a particularly Nanardesque nugget to recommend?
You will find some films reviewed on our site. His most famous film is actually Turkish Star Wars. For my part, I would recommend a film from the series of Battal Gazi (named after a famous Turkish historical figure) as Savulun Battal Gazi Geliyor.
The good news is that many films are available for free on Youtube via the Fanatik Film editor. The bad news is that there are no versions with French subtitles yet.
If you want to go deeper into the subject, I recommend our documentary Nanaroscope n°14 which talks about Turkish cinema of that time.
(Re)discover the episode of “Escale à Nanarland” dedicated to Cüneyt Arkın…