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Takva: A Man's Fear of God
Takva A Man's Fear of God
Actors: Erkan Can, Güven Kiraç
Director: Özer Kiziltan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2008     1hr 36min

Muharrem (Erkan Can) lives a solitary existence, strictly adhering to the most severe Islamic doctrines. To his surprise, a religious leader hires him as a rent collector, where he is given Western-style suits, a cell phon...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Erkan Can, Güven Kiraç
Director: Özer Kiziltan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Religion
Studio: KOCH LORBER FILMS
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/09/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

3 ½- Stars: Being Ordinary Makes One EXTRAORDINARY....
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 12/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It is quite curious that a film about a certain religious sect would be directed by Ozer Kilitan, someone who has declared that he is a man who doesn't believe in God. This little detail had aroused my curiosity. "Takva: A Man's Fear of God" has both been condemned and praised by religious sects according to the director. The film does have some controversial themes, and I have no knowledge of the religious practices of Islam or about the politics in Turkey, so I cannot really comment about its accuracies or lack of, so I can only comment in my review as to how well the film is made and the performances.

Istambul. Muharrem (Erkan Can) is a devout man who leads a simple life--he goes to work and does his religious obligations faithfully. One day, his friend, Rauf (Guven Kiraq) pays him a visit to take him to a "Dhikr"(a practice that according to the director is outlawed in this place). The Sheikh of their sect requests that Muharrem be appointed the keeper of the group's finances and assets--collecting rent and managing expenses because of his "pure" heart. Being the humble man that he is, Muharrem accepts. He believes that this task is the will of God. However, after spending sometime dealing with economics, commerce and finances, his goal of purity of heart is set to collide with the modern world.

Rather than have a religious commentary, Director Ozer opted to make this film a character study of a devout man so set in his religious ways that he is not open to change and tries to fight modernization. Muharrem is a simple man, quite satisfied with his life. Sure, he does have his share of his own sins but he does whatever he can, to serve his beliefs. The film does demonstrate certain aspects of the religious rituals such as the "Dhikr", washing oneself of sin and times of prayer but it is not the film's main focus. Remember the old adage: "It's a dirty job but someone has to do it."

The question is what would happen when your religious beliefs that you so believed in, so devoted to, may well be the only thing you have left contradict the practices of the modern world. On Muharrem's first few weeks as the sect's collector, he is shown modern clothing, a car, a mobile phone--he is even given respect by his old boss and a banking institution because of his newly appointed position. All of these serve as commentary to exhibit religion's powerful influence in the modern world, because of the devotion of its members. A man such as Muharrem may have problems getting used to all of this, it sure doesn't help when he is having a lot of unexplained dreams. These dreams are somewhat a commentary on the country itself and its modernization.

A film whose success depends on the character of a simple man has to have a strong lead, and I do think Erkan Can did an excellent performance. The man is a famous actor in Turkey and I can see why. The lead actor definitely displayed the needed emotions to express his character's breakdown--fear, confusion, paranoia and delirium can be felt by the audience. There is a part that displays the weighing the needs of the "greater good" against the needs of some that was very effective. I liked the part when a young man talked to him about the realities of war and the part when his confusion goes full circle when he feels he is becoming corrupted by the almighty dollar. Muharrem reacted as if he is "unclean" and tries very hard to fight it--what is his first reaction? To seek the wisdom of his Sheikh.

The film may be a little controversial to others and to be honest, I have no doubt it may alienate some viewers. The screenplay is simple enough to grasp but I do think a knowledge of this religion itself may assist in appreciating this film better. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Islam is very limited and I have to say that there may be some elements that I could have missed.

Despite my somewhat disconnection to some of the film's driving factors, I do think the film is a good one. Some parts of the film were a little too heavy-handed and a tad undefined but the strong performance by Erkan Can managed to keep me interested. The film is a good melodrama, but certain things kept it from becoming great. I can see why some religious sects condemned this film at first, but as the director stated, a good number of Islamic sects also supported its production as displayed in the film's portrayal of its rituals. (played by an actual membership) They believed this story holds a semblance of truth and it must be told. As a fan of challenging cinema, I was intrigued and my curiosity was somewhat rewarded.

Recommended! [3 ½- Stars]


"
Maybe what we call the devil is mankind itself.
ShriDurga | 01/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Takva is a simple film about a simple man, the assistant to an Istanbul sack dealer who at middle age has given up the idea of marriage, who lives alone in the home he was raised, the only home he has ever known. Muharrem is a humble, pious man, a man who strives to be always conscious of the presence of Allah, a man of taqwa. He pays careful attention to his religious obligations and treats others with respect and gentleness. His contented life is disturbed only by the occasional erotic imaginings of his sleep.

That is, until the Sheikh arrives. The head of a local Sufi monastic order and proprietor of a large number of landholdings on which the order supports itself, the Sheikh is in need of a rent collector. He sets his eye on Muharrem, trusting such a guileless man can serve the order scrupulously. Overwhelmed with the enormity of the responsibility but eager to please both Allah and the Sheikh, Muharrem accepts and learns quite quickly the job is not what he imagined, the world far more complicated than he could have dreamed.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In order to play the part, the boy-like Muharrem is outfitted with designer suits, accessories, a car and personal driver. As he makes his rounds to meet with tenants, he finds to his distress he is given preferential treatment for being associated with a great religious leader. He finds the order satisfied to tolerate a drunken tenant who pays, but has no patience for a pious family financially hobbled by illness. He discovers his old boss at the sack factory, whom he once served and admired, has no reservations about grossly overcharging a client. He finds himself solicited by unknown businessmen seeking the order's favor through him. When Muharrem brings his concerns to the Sheikh, the great religious leader offers no consolation, no means of helping Muharrem escape his dilemma. In order to avoid soiling his own reputation, the Sheikh sloughs the responsibility onto Muharrem, telling him that Allah will guide his way.

Veteran actor Erkan Can does a superb job bringing the rent collector to life, transforming a meek and servile office assistant into to a freshly suited businessman on a slow boil to a hair-pulling, face-slapping nervous breakdown. The anxious mood of the film is intensified by a dark score and the claustrophobic air of confined spaces such as temples, offices, apartment flats, and narrow market streets.

In the end, Muharrem finds himself trapped between faith and duty, between ethics and survival, a haunted place we all visit early in our adult lives. Most of us chip away at the ethics in order to live another day. A few of us are brave enough to damn the job. And a few of us just don't make it.

Towards the end of the film, Muharrem begins to understand what has been happening. "I thought the fear of God would put me in order. I just wanted to be a good person. God is everywhere. You have to do what He wants, and not do what He doesn't want. Then you're a good person in this world and will find peace in the other world. But it doesn't work. It's not possible. There is always the devil. Maybe what we call the devil is mankind itself."

#"
Important and disturbing (WARNING: SPOILER!)
Dawoud Kringle | New York City | 11/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I happen to be a Muslim who is associated with the general "sect" of Islam that the characters in this film belong to: Sufism (the mystic branch of Islam). I am also an American born convert; which perhaps give me a perspective others may not have.

What I see in this tragedy are the result of a failing. This is not failings within Islam, but very human failings.

The seed of this was Muharrem's incapacity to correctly interpret what is happening to him. He would have erotic dreams (the cause of which could be anything from psychic attacks by djinn to simply not having an outlet for his natural desires), and believed that he was committing a sin. In authentic Islam, there is nothing to support this idea. This ignorance, supported by societal stigma of a pseudo-morality, caused him to experience deeper shame. This increased the more he found himself in situations wherein he had to resolve conflicts with his beliefs that he was incapable of finding without help. And he had no real help. His Sheikh was one of those religious leaders who become too wrapped up in the external appearance of his station. Perhaps he couldn't see the enormity of what was happening, but the fact was that he couldn't correctly interpret Muhareem's dilemna, nor could he offer advice and guidance that was so desperately needed.

And of course, Muhareem was not strong enough to withstand the impact of the world he was thrust into - alone and without experience. He was a humble man, just strong enough to adhere to his religion with a beautiful simplicity and sincerity, but too weak to be what can best be described as a spiritual warrior.

Thus, his sanity was shattered.

What was truly ironic was the woman in his erotic dreams, the woman who tormented him. In his dreams, she was a wanton, loose, immoral whore who he used to statisfy his lusts. In reality, for this woman did exist, she was the daughter of the Sheikh - whom the Sheikh had seriously contemplated an arranged marriage to Muhareem! Muhareem, in an act of exagerated piety, had taken a vow of chastity (something else that is foreign to Islam) and never learned of the Sheikh's suggestion.

Had poor Muhareem - or more specifically, Muhareem's Sheikh, to whom he was so devoted - realized both the causes of his problems, and their practical and very easily achieved solutions (all of which are in perfect keeping with Islamic beliefs), been explained, understood, and implimented, Muhareem would have not only ended up a much happier man than he ever was, but would have become strong enough to do the work his Sheikh assigned to him. With no contradiction to his Islamic beliefs.

What worries me is that there will be some who see this film and will interpret it as invective against Islam. This is a serious mistake."
Serving God and mammon...
Mary M | 12/10/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a well conceived film with good direction and acting. Its strength is its revelation of Islam's hold upon its members and the lengths a devotee goes, on an everyday basis, to live up to and be guided by a very exacting code. Perhaps all religions exist in order to give meaning to life's questions and strength to man's morals. In the film the differences between living a contemplative and strict life and also having to deal with modern realities presents big emotional problems for an 'average' man. The scenes in the mosques, the streets around Istanbul, the daily rituals between people, etc. make an extremely interesting film. Highly recommended."