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Poster of Yol
Directed byŞerif Gören
Yılmaz Güney
Written byYılmaz Güney
Produced byEdi Hubschmid
Yılmaz Güney
StarringTarık Akan
Halil Ergün
Şerif Sezer
Meral Orhonsay
Music bySebastian Argol
Zülfü Livaneli
Release date
  • May 1982 (1982-05) (Cannes)
Running time
124 minutes

Yol (pronounced [joɫ]; translated as The Way,[1][2] The Road[3][4] or The Path[5]) is a 1982 Turkish film directed by Şerif Gören and Yılmaz Güney.[6] The screenplay was written by Yılmaz Güney, and it was directed by his assistant Şerif Gören, as Güney was in prison at the time. Later, after Güney escaped from Imrali prison, he took the negatives of the film to Switzerland and later edited it in Paris.[7]

The film is a portrait of Turkey in the aftermath of the 1980 Turkish coup d'état: its people and its authorities are shown via the stories of five prisoners given a week's home leave. The film has caused much controversy in Turkey, and was banned until 1999. However, it won numerous honours, including the Palme d'Or at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. It also was selected as the Swiss entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 55th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Yılmaz Güney's YOL - The Full Version [official trailer]
  • Yasaklanan ve EN İYİ FİLM Ödülünü Alan Türk Filmi! YOL (Bizimkiler #3)
  • Yol (The Path)
  • YOL EHVALATİ (Azərbaycan Filmləri)
  • Yol Film-Reportaj (26.02.2021)



In Turkey, several prisoners are granted temporary leave from prison.[8] One, Seyit Ali (Tarık Akan), travels to his house and finds that his wife Zine (Şerif Sezer), to survive, has had to turn to prostitution.[8] She was caught by her family and held captive for eight months in order for Seyit Ali to end her life in an honour killing. Though apparently determined at first, he changes his mind when his wife starts to freeze while travelling in the snow. Despite his efforts to keep her alive, he eventually fails. His wife's death relieves Seyit Ali from family pressure.

Another prisoner, Mehmet Salih (Halil Ergün) has been arrested for his role in a heist with his brother-in-law, whom he abandoned as he was being shot by police. His in-laws have disowned him, and he is finally forced to tell his wife Emine (Meral Orhonsay [tr]) the truth. Emine and Mehmet Salih decide to run away on a train. On the train, they are caught in the washroom about to have sex. They are saved from an angry mob by the train's officers and held in a cabin. A young boy from Emine's family who has boarded the train shoots both Mehmet Salih and Emine.

Ömer (Necmettin Çobanoğlu) returns to his village sitting near the border between Turkey and Syria, and arranges to cross the border to escape prison. Ömer finds his village in a battle between Kurdish smugglers and Turkish soldiers. Though Ömer is clearly determined, he gives up after his brother, who took part in the battle, is shot dead. Through his brother's death, Ömer has inherited the responsibility for his late brother's family and become husband to his late brother's wife, as dictated by tradition, despite his attraction to a young woman of the village.


Güney wrote the screenplay, in part inspired by his own captivity,[8] which contained elaborate detail, but could not personally direct as he was in prison. Güney initially recruited Erden Kiral as his surrogate director but, displeased with Kiral's work, had it destroyed and fired him. This became the basis of Kiral's later film, Yolda.[9]

Güney subsequently hired Serif Gören. There were rumours that several prisoners, including Güney, watched much of Gören's footage on a wall at the prison.[9] Güney later broke out of prison to edit Yol in Switzerland.[9]

Zülfü Livaneli made the music for the movie, but due to political atmosphere then in Turkey, he used a pseudonym Sebastian Argol in order to avoid possible sanctions from Turkish courts which were then operating under 1980 Turkish coup d'état rules.[10]


Political controversy

The film was banned in Turkey because of its negative portrayal of Turkey at the time, which was under the control of a military dictatorship. Even more controversial was the limited use of the Kurdish language, music and culture (which were forbidden in Turkey at the time), as well as the portrayal of the hardships Kurds live through in Turkey. One scene in the movie even calls the location of Ömer's village "Kürdistan".[11]

A new version of Yol was released in 2017, called Yol: The Full Version in which many of these controversial parts and scenes have been taken out, to make the film suitable for release in Turkey. In order to be shown at the Turkish stand at Cannes 2017 the Kürdistan insert was removed. In what critics say goes against the director Yılmaz Güney's wishes and call "censorship", the frame showing "Kürdistan" as well as a highly political scene where Ömer speaks about difficulties of being Kurdish were removed.

Another new version exists for the international market with all the politically controversial scenes included.[11]

Rights dispute

The rights to Yol were disputed for a long time. Even during Yilmaz Güney's lifetime, there were major conflicts about the ownership of the film between Güney and Donat Keusch, the head of a Swiss-based service company called Cactus Film AG, who claimed to own the entire rights of the film. After Güney's death, the dispute escalated between Keusch and Güney's widow.

When Keusch filed for bankruptcy with his Cactus Film AG[12] in 1999, the situation became even more complicated and resulted in numerous lawsuits in both Switzerland and France. There still are numerous sellers in the market claiming to be the sole owner of the world rights to Yol, and the film is offered in different versions through different distribution channels.[13][14]

According to the bankruptcy office Zurich Aussersihl, Keusch received the rights which still remained in Cactus Film on March 4, 2010. This happened without payment. Keusch also sent this contract to the RCA-directory of the French CNC (film number 2010.2922) trying to use it as a proof that he had rights. In any case Keusch could only get from the bankruptcy office rights that cactus film had since no bankruptcy office can create non-existing rights.[citation needed]


Vincent Canby, writing for The New York Times, wrote that, although the film addressed significant issues, touching on these issues did not make it great art. Canby described it as "a large, decent, ponderous panorama".[15] Time critic Richard Corliss declared Güney "a world-class moviemaker".[16]

In 1982, director Werner Herzog said that Yol is "one of the films that has touched me so deeply — like barely anything else in the last ten years. It's just a masterpiece".[17] In his 2015 Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin gave it three stars, describing it as "Incisive".[18] In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter ranked it the 65th best film to win the Palme d'Or, saying the production was a better story than that on screen.[19]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 77% of 13 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.3/10.[20]


The film won three honours at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, tying for the top prize, the Palme d'Or, with Missing by Costa-Gavras.[15] The film was selected as the Swiss entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 55th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[21]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Cannes Film Festival 14 – 26 May 1982 Palme d'Or Yılmaz Güney and Şerif Gören Won [22]
Ecumenical Jury Special Mention Won [23]
César Awards 26 February 1983 Best Foreign Film Nominated [24]
French Syndicate of Cinema Critics 1983 Best Foreign Film Won [25]
Golden Globe Awards 29 January 1983 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [26]
London Film Critics' Circle November 1983 Best Foreign Language Film Won [27]
National Board of Review 14 February 1983 Top Foreign Films Won [28]

Further reading

Yilmaz Güney's movie Yol within the Kurdish context of Turkey. A comparative study of different versions of Yol. Clara Francken

See also


  1. ^ "isbn:0813595142 – Google Search".
  2. ^ "isbn:0814336116 - Google Search".
  3. ^ "isbn:0313342156 - Google Search".
  4. ^ "isbn:1848361254 – Google Search".
  5. ^ Woodhead, Christine (2 August 1989). "Turkish Cinema: An Introduction". Centre of Near & Middle Eastern Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Gören, Serif; Güney, Yilmaz (1982-09-01), Yol (Drama), Tarik Akan, Serif Sezer, Halil Ergün, Meral Orhonsay, Güney Film, Cactus Film, France 2 (FR2), retrieved 2021-06-17
  7. ^ "Yol – TIFF Cinematheque". Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  8. ^ a b c Schultz, Deanne (2007). Filmography of World History. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-313-32681-3.
  9. ^ a b c Johnston, Sheila (25 February 2006). "Film-makers on film: Fatih Akin on Yilmaz Güney and Serif Gören's Yol (1982)". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  10. ^ Hubschmid, Edi (2017). YOL - der Weg ins Exil. Das Buch (in German). Biel-Bienne: PPP Publishing Partners. pp. 180–184. ISBN 978-3-9524751-2-6.
  11. ^ a b "The word 'Kurdistan' is forbidden: a look at a new version of Yilmaz Guney's film 'Yol'". Kurdish Question. 2017-06-14.
  12. ^ Cactus Film files for bankruptcy
  13. ^ French DVD Version of Yol
  14. ^ Announcement about Yol on kinalu
  15. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (6 October 1982). "'Yol,' a Big, Angry Epic of Contempory [sic] Turkey". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  16. ^ Corliss, Richard (18 October 1982). "Yol". Time. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  17. ^ Cott, Jonathan (11 November 1982). "Jungle Madness". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  18. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2014). Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide. Penguin. ISBN 978-0698183612.
  19. ^ Staff (10 May 2016). "Cannes: All the Palme d'Or Winners, Ranked". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Yol". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 3 January 2023. Edit this at Wikidata
  21. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  22. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Yol". Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  23. ^ Festival Book. Kerala State Chalachitra Academy. 2004. p. 195.
  24. ^ "Prix et nominations : César 1983". AlloCiné. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  25. ^ "Liste Des Prix Du Meilleur Film Étranger Depuis 1967". French Syndicate of Cinema Critics. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Yol". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  27. ^ Speed, F. Maurice; Cameron-Wilson, James (1984). Film Review. W. H. Allen. p. 158.
  28. ^ "1982 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved 16 June 2017.

External links

This page was last edited on 6 August 2023, at 05:31
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