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The Politics of Transnational Film Remakes: A Turkish Young Frankenstein Betwixt Coup d’etats

Adaptation by its nature involves repetitive re-visitations of sources in various contexts with different motivations. Remaking, which can be considered a subcategory of adaptation, has been on the scene almost as long as adaptations. The first example of film adaptations can be traced back to 1896 with Trilby and Little Billee, a 45-second scene that depicted a part of George L. Du Maurier’s novel; its earliest surviving remake was produced in 1915. While literary works have been considered superior to their adaptations throughout the history of cinema, remakes have been consigned to an even lower status than their originals, dismissed for their “lack of creativity [and] laziness” (C. Murray 64). And yet the cinema industry has flourished through remakes, reboots, and recycles. In Hollywood alone, there have been over 400 remakes since 1978. Since the turn of the century, with the resurgence of Disney, remaking has become one of the most prevalent industrial practices. But only 10% of these productions received more favorable reviews than their originals. The inherent hierarchy among sources, adaptations, and remakes is visible not only in the industry but also in the academy. While adaptation studies is still in its foundational stage aiming to claim an interdisciplinary space, scholarship on remakes covers an even smaller territory. Of that territory, barely any analysis considers transnational remakes.

In his introduction to The Oxford Handbook of Adaptation Studies, Thomas Leitch observes that “the scope of adaptation studies remains largely Anglo-American rather than international; indeed, many adaptation scholars outside the English-speaking world prefer to focus on Hollywood adaptation studies” (6). Highlighting the field’s lack of interest in different voices and examples from world cinema, and especially marginal cinemas, Leitch emphasizes the exigency of a turn in adaptation studies. Similarly, in her latest book Theorizing Adaptation, Kamilla Elliott confesses that her attempt to write about history of theorizing adaptation is limited due to her expertise and the limitations that it brings, as in the case of every scholar. And says: “I hope that others, expert in other fields, periods, and nations, will historicize adaptation theorization further” (24). I consider my research as an answer to these calls, especially in a time while notions like national cinemas are becoming more complex and amorphous.

Scholarship on transnational remakes is very limited. Especially, in an industry and an academy dominated by Anglophone literature and cinema, the existing discourse eventually leads to discussions about cross-cultural fertilizations, appropriations, the domination of one culture by another, or different forms of exchange across borders. In this trend, film remakes are generally compared with former film versions instead of their literary sources and considered to have a complex relationship with these earlier texts. While they are trying to achieve independent textual status, they also rely on either those texts’ established cultural memory or their financial success. This web of relationships has become a decisive point in their analysis. However, many Turkish mockbuster1 films —including Nejat Saydam’s My Friend Frankenstein (Sevimli Frankenştayn,1975), a Turkish remake of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (1974)— that were remade during the most productive and also the most chaotic era in the Turkish film industry (1960s-1980s) and which shaped, defined, and actualized the Turkish popular cinema called Yeşilçam, have the potential to redefine the politics of remaking, since they do not fit the general tendencies of these theoretical approaches.In analyzing Turkish cinema’s remaking practices, I argue that when marginal cinemas speak indirectly under political orthodoxies, their industrial choices in recycling texts oppose current scholarship by turning the act of border crossing into dialogic moments in which journeys between source and adaptation, original and remake, or culture A and culture B do not take linear routes, but instead chaotically oscillate. Re-culturalizing semantic meanings and acknowledging different texts with a critical transnational perspective encourage us to reconsider our approaches to different political, ideological, religious, artistic, literary, and cinematic realms separated by borders. Bortolotti and Hutcheon claim that “[d]espite the theoretical sophistication of recent literary critical discourse, adaptation studies have remained stubbornly rooted in often unexamined values and practices” (443), which includes marginal cinemas as well. Thus, the aim of this article is to diversify and internationalize adaptation studies while enabling future scholars to study transnational film remakes under a more generous paradigm and challenge Hollywood-centric assumptions.


When talking about remakes, Thomas Leitch says: “The exposition of a remake determines the way its audience defines their initial attitude toward the film; its intertextual stance, the general attitude it adopts toward its original, helps define the way the audience makes sense of their experience of the film” (Leitch, “Twice-Told Tales” 43-44). I would like to continue upon his remarks by saying that the exposition of a remake now not only defines how we make sense of the film, but also how we make sense of the industry, the culture, the society, the politics, and all these webs of relationships that relate to one another. These relationships are not only intertextual but also extra-textual and contextual. I claim that cross-cultural adaptations travel not only across borders between mediums and cultures, but also across borders within the self as well as borders between races, genders, identities, and ideologies, where transformation can be achieved and what Jauss calls our “horizon of expectations” extended (22). As Dan Hassler-Forest and Pascal Nicklas similarly claim in their collection The Politics of Adaptation, reading border crossing acts between text and cultures can be influential in “existing social, cultural, and economic hierarchies that can be reaffirmed but also challenged by the new ways in which adaptations are circulated and appropriated” (1). For this reason, the production processes of these remakes can tell us about the contemporaneous situation of the industry as well as the relationship, if any, among different cultures. I propose to interrogate the remake as an industrial category suggested by earlier scholars in the light of the “historically specific circumstances in which . . . serial modes registered and negotiated” (Verevis, “Remakes” 267). By critically examining Anglophone discussions of transnational remakes as they reproduce national borders, I would like to extend the scholarship on remakes, conceiving of them not only as industrial/textual/critical categories but as national and historical products.

Kamilla Elliott says: “Macroscopic views reveal transhistorical, transdisciplinary, and transtheoretical dynamics that do not manifest in localized case studies, while microscopic studies can erase and refocus differences and oppositions that case studies may maximize” (9). Accordingly, in order to be able to answer such concerns, I will begin with sociopolitical analysis of the Turkish film industry to understand how transhistorical and transtheoretical approaches that have been taken or avoided have impacted this specific marginal cinema’s visibility. And then, I will do a close reading on the Turkish remake of Young Frankenstein to reorient the theoretical approaches to those industrial practices in order to understand how local practices can help us to rethink our global scholarly approach.

A National Cinema Between the 1960 and 1980 Coups d’état

Turkish cinema began in 1914. Over the following century, it produced more than six thousand movies. While 3359 of those films were made before 1973, 2219 of them made between 1974 and 1990. The number of films produced in Turkey in 1940 was zero. It rose to a high of 300 in 1972 and then dropped 88 by 2013. There were numerous reasons behind the rise and fall in the industry’s number of productions. While sometimes it was the political upheavals within the country that caused the industry to produce a great number of films, the same reason sometimes caused the industry to go into a period of dryness. The ways the country dealt with socio-political and economic problems resulted in diametrically opposed outcomes for the cinema industry. Throughout these times, the Turkish cinema industry depended on adaptations because of the socio-political and economic conditions of the country. However, the number of adaptations and their significance to the cinema industry in Turkey has never been as distinct as it was between 1960 and 1980. During these years, the Turkish Republic suffered from various coups and coup attempts, starting with the military coup of May 27, 1960, and followed by coup attempts on February 22, 1962, and May 21, 1963; the military memorandum of March 12, 1971; and the military coup of September 12, 1980. In addition to the political restlessness, economic recession and increasing monetary depreciation contributed to the recrudescent environment. The inflation rate, which was 20% in the year 1970, reached 90% in 1979, causing a dramatic increase in black market and smuggling activities (Zürcher 388-90). Violence among the public reached new heights. Bombings and mass shootings started, and the country was dragged into an atmosphere of civil war. The number of deaths related to political fights raised from 230 to 1500 between 1977 and 1979 (Lüleci 196). These consecutive coups and internal conflicts during that twenty-year-long period accelerated the difference between remaking practices in Turkey and those in the other national cinemas scholars of adaptation studies have studied so far.

The Politics of Transnational Film Remakes: A Turkish Young Frankenstein Betwixt Coup d’etats,
Seda Öz, Literature Film Quarterly
Figure 1: Number of Films Produced in Turkey between 1940-2013. This table was created by the author using statistics from the following digital archive: http://turkishcine.ma/home

In 1972, Turkey was the third most prolific film-producing country with 301 movies Almost 90 percent of Turkish films were remakes, adaptations, or spin-offs of American films (Scognamillo, “Türk Sinemasında” 68). Ironically, in a survey conducted by MGM about the popularity of various film genres, “Turkey was listed with India, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon as being among the countries with tastes almost diametrically opposed to those of American audiences” (qtd. in Gürata 337). Not only were the themes of these films irrelevant to the Turkish audience; genres like science fiction and horror were not even established in Turkish cinema. Accordingly, the salient feature of Turkish remakes did not involve any cross-cultural fertilization or a “triangular relationship they establish among themselves, the original film they remake, and the property on which both films are made” (Leitch, “Twice-Told Tales” 39). On the contrary, the very different triangular relationships on which Turkish remakes depend are intercultural relationships among the industry, the public, and the government. Remakes were produced not in order to capitalize on the success of the films they were remaking but in order to avoid the resistance that would more likely greet more original Turkish films because of the political unrest caused by the 1960 and 1980 coups d’état, a tension that revolves around nationalistic borders.

The more-than-two-decade-long internal conflict of Turkey condemned the country to live with unstable social structures, economy, and laws. Not knowing which way the wind would blow, aligning with any political party was dangerous for moviemakers. Thus, during these times, moviemakers were trying different methods to maintain the industry and struggling to preserve their safety as individuals. The main industrial concerns stemmed from economic pressures. In 1969, there were 2,954 movie theaters, and the audience was numerous, with “around 10,000 daily audiences only in Atlas Cinema” (Remake). According to the 1948 entertainment tax facilitation, municipalities were paying 25% for the local productions but 70% for international productions (The Official Gazette). In those years, the workload was as enormous as the number of films produced. The 1,710 movies made between 1960 and 1969 were produced mainly by 17 production companies, including Kemal Film (73 films), Erler Film (71 films), Acar Film (50 films), and Saner Film (44 films) (Lüleci 194). Because the studios were too small to make more than fifty films each a year, technical personnel worked longer hours, and the quality of the films was low. While a given actor was in a position to work in twenty different films simultaneously, the lack of Turkish copyright laws, which allowed scenarios to be sold to several different studios, resulted in the release of many films based on the same scenarios, with predictably depressing effects on the box office. As a result of these economic pressures, the cinema industry in Turkey had to depend on its own productions and find a balance and a space to survive. Accordingly, adaptation practice became a survival strategy for the industry.

In between the two coups (of 1960 and 1980), there had been many examples of transnational remakes in Turkish cinema that borrowed their material from various national cinemas, especially those of America, Germany, Italy, and France. The most prominent examples include Feyzi Tuna’s remakes of Madame Bovary as One Last Time with You (Seninle Son Defa, 1967) and Jean Pierre Melville’s The Samurai (Le Samouraï, 1967) as Single Bullet (Tek Kurşun, 1968), Mario Monicelli’s The Girl with a Pistol (La ragazza con la pistola, 1968), directed by Atif Yilmaz with the title Güllü (1971), starring Türkay Şoray and later remade again by Metin Erksan in 1973 with the title From the Mountain (Dağdan İnme). In addition to these transnational remakes, the Turkish industry was also recycling its own films. When the directors decided to recycle their own national products, Memduh Ün remade his own film Three Friends (Üç Arkadaş, 1958) as a color film in 1971, and Atif Yilmaz remade his own film Red Vase (Kızıl Vazo,1961) in 1969. In addition to directors, production companies recycled their own productions. Erman Film asked Halit Refiğ to remake Strike the Whore (Vurun Kahpeye, 1949, 1964) for the third time in 1973. However, the number of American remakes in Turkish cinema was considerably higher than their counterparts in other national cinemas.

The 1960s and 1970s saw Turkish remakes of American films like Some Like it Hot (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), Batman (1966), Star Trek (1966-1969), The Exorcist (1973), Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978), E.T. (1982),and many others. Remakes of these films, and of science fiction and horror films whose genres had never been established in Turkish cinema, were strangely irrelevant to the Turkish audience. Invoking Catherine Grant’s idea that “the most important act that films and their surrounding discourses need to perform in order to communicate . . .  their status as adaptations is to (make their audiences) recall the adapted the work, or the cultural memory of it” (57). Similarly, Verevis says that “the process of recollection . . . [is] realized through texts and is inseparable from them, but alongside textual descriptions it is necessary to analyze those textual activators – the various extra-textual modes and means – which enable the recognition of adaptations and their sources” (Film 129). This model, however, clearly does not apply to certain Turkish mockbuster films. Turkish cinema’s embrace of remakes stemmed rather from internal economic, industrial, and political problems. The process of Turkish remaking did not emphasize the original films’ familiarity and relevance, but the remakes’ distance from both the films they remade and their target audience, which allowed them to provide an apolitical experience. The audience for foreign films in Turkey was limited to upper-class people living in Istanbul and seeing the movies with dubbing or subtitles who were not interested in Yeşilçam films. The audience for local films, on the other hand, included middle-class, lower-middle-class, and working-class people. In most cases, censorship prevented the originals even from being screened in Turkey. So, the absence of the original film would make it hard to find a knowing audience that was able to recall any “cultural memory” or form the “triangular relationship” Leitch posits as central to the reception of remakes (“Twice-Told Tales” 39). Thus, even though these films can be categorized as a remake in terms of their formal structures, the same argument cannot be made for their reception, and the fact that these texts are crossing geographical borders, does not necessarily make them transnational as the term is generally used.

Simone Murray’s approach towards adaptation is especially useful in understanding Turkish mockbuster films’ potential to redefine the politics of remaking; she emphasizes “how adaptations come to be, specifically how the various institutional, commercial and legal frameworks surrounding adaptations profoundly influence the number and character of adaptations in cultural circulation” (4). More pointedly, Mazdon suggests considering “material, historical and political conditions which surround and penetrate the moment of production and subsequent moment(s) of reception” (26) in the analysis of remakes. Nejat Saydam’s My Friend Frankenstein was released in 1975, before Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (1974) was ever screened in Turkey or Shelley’s novel properly translated into Turkish. Even though these remakes borrow their originals’ plots and even use advertising posters2 remarkably similar to those of their originals, those textual activators did not trigger any recognition because the originals were inaccessible when they were released in movie theaters. Accordingly, Turkish cinema’s remaking practices require a different critical approach.

My Friend Frankenstein (Sevimli Frankenştayn)

Its prevailing tone of absurdist comedy makes My Friend Frankenstein the epitome of an apolitical film. While preserving the same plot structure, characters, and jokes as Young Frankenstein, such as the skeleton who holds tightly to the book, Mr. Hiltop, the train farewell scene, the invitation to a roll in the hay, the rotating bookcase, Igor’s traveling hump, the confusion about the monster’s hand and my hand, and many other similarities involving individual scenes, the Turkish remake also adds its own cultural flavor to its narrative.

The Politics of Transnational Film Remakes: A Turkish Young Frankenstein Betwixt Coup d’etats,
Seda Öz, Literature Film Quarterly
Figure 2: Comparable visual details from Young Frankenstein and My Friend Frankenstein

The film begins with a séance to which the protagonist, Timur Frank, is accompanying his fiancée despite his distaste for such activities. Although he argues with other participants by praising science, he is neither a scientist nor an educated man. As they are calling upon the spirit of Frankenstein, he scares them by putting on a mask and acting like a monster. At the end of the séance, a mysterious man shows up and tells Timur that his grandfather has left him a legacy to finish his final project. Later, Timur joyfully accepts the offer and says: “Fame and fortune wait for me.” In a culture in which the monster genre had not been established, and society’s religious background limited stories tales of the supernatural to stories, neither a clash between science and the supernatural nor the legacy of Frankenstein’s monster would make sense for the audience. Hence the film emphasizes spirits and their existence among us.

To reinforce the monstrosity of spirits, Timur’s grandfather Frankenstein speaks to him through his own portrait. When he appears, the monster bears no resemblance to earlier Hollywood Frankenstein monsters. On the contrary, deprived of special makeup and costume, he looks like a regular man. What makes him a monster in the eyes of the audience has nothing to do with his resurrection: after all, this culture believes in spirits and an afterlife. He is scary because he was a murderer when he was alive. When Fatin (Igor) brings a brain for Timur to use, he accidentally gets the brain of the Toros monster, whose story appeared first as a national myth, then became a film in 19613 and was novelized by Aziz Nesin in 1965. In other words, the Turkish remake emphasizes intertextual links not with Shelley’s novel, the original Mel Brooks film, or the earlier Universal films, but with its own cultural heritage.

Even though there is a reference to a local story, any spatial inscription in Saydam’s film is still avoided. Because of the political turbulence of the country and the earlier public reactions to social-realist films that focused on specific locations, Saydam’s film never identifies its geographical location. While the film is set in real castles, we also come across villagers who speak with heavy Turkish accents, accompanied by Madam Blücher, who speaks Turkish with a German accent. The film thus creates an impossible space instead of naming a city or a place that might be associated with specific local cultures. Newspaper reviews and advertisements are often considered another textual activator for remakes, which work toward “identifying the original picture and distancing the remake from it” (Verevis, Film 136). But my archival research uncovered no references to the original films. On the contrary, in newspapers, Saydam’s film was described as “Turkish artists’ masterpiece and victory” (“Sevimli Frankenştayn”).

Another strategy the film uses to avoid political/public criticism and increase its box-office appeal is sexual jokes. About Hollywood’s treatment of pornography, Peter Lehman says:

There was a crucial point in the early 1970s where Hollywood and porn came very close together, with porn features on Variety’s top grossing film charts and with Hollywood even contemplating moving into porn production. Eventually, Hollywood took the opposite approach of differentiating itself from porn with a new crop of prestigious movies and directors. And, of course, actors and directors, among others, have moved freely from the porn industry into the Hollywood industry. (15)

Around the same years, Turkish popular cinema found itself with a similar dilemma. However, contrary to American cinema, production companies in Turkey decided to invest in pornography and transferred actors and actresses. After television was introduced to Turkish households in 1968, people moved away from cinema.  When family audiences left the cinema, the industry, seeking to offer something that could not be found on television, emphasized pornography, erotic films and films with sexual resonances to satisfy its new demographic. “In fact, 131 of the 193 films produced in 1979 were erotic or pornographic in nature” (Singh). Sexuality not only attracted audiences but offered indemnity against political criticism. As Laura Kipnis suggests, pornography “has less to do with its obvious content (sex) than with what might be called its political philosophy” (118). Political context that the film was born out of matters in its understanding, and in the case of Turkish cinema around 1970s, it became a method to avoid censorship since the main theme of the new conservatism involved not religion or sexuality but nationalism. When Timur Frank starts his journey, he says: “We have been appointed to the land of fear and sex. Let’s meet with this Frankenstein.” Throughout the film, there are many sexual jokes and connotations. Moreover, as a remake, My Friend Frankenstein uses the same musical score as the original film with a significant change. It is remixed as a disco version, a genre specifically used for erotic films in Turkey. The fact that Bülent Kayabaş (Timur Frank) was formerly an erotic film star also helps audience to see the film as a mashup of comic and erotic film genres that minimizes any political overtones. As Constantine Verevis says: “The remake becomes a particular instance not only of the repetition effects which characterize the narrative structure . . . but also of a more general repetition – of exclusive stars, proprietary characters, patented processes, narrative patterns and generic elements” (Film 5). The use of the same actor, theme, or visuals reflects the impact of this repetitive activity on the formalistic structure of the remake. In My Friend Frankenstein, however, both the generic patterns and the star quality are used for an alienation effect rather than a repetition effect, indicating an alienation from the culture, from certain genres like social-realism, and from certain stars associated with a specific genre or political inclination. Also, “[t]he world of pornography is mythological and hyperbolic, peoples by characters. It doesn’t and never will exist, but it does -and this is part of its politics- insist on sanctioned space for fantasy” (Kipnis 119). And the fact that film diverts its generic conventions towards it, reinforces the idea and ideal of an impossible space, in addition to the characters in it.

The use of American films as a source to invite alien stories that lack the capacity to comment on social issues is an important strategy. Although Mel Brooks’s film mentions Mary Shelley in its opening credits, the Turkish remake includes no such reference. While one of reasons for this omission was the absence of copyright laws, the other reason was the military. It was only four years after the 1971 coup d’état and five years before the 1980 Turkish coup d’état, during a period when the Turkish military systematically oppressed the culture industry. By using the gaps in copyright laws, the Turkish film industry adopted a permissive approach towards these bans, remade Hollywood productions scene by scene, and released them to the masses, producing something we might call activist remakes that have the potential to open discussions about different kinds of “triangular relationships” indicated by any number of inside jokes. In Young Frankenstein, when Frankenstein, Inga, and Igor arrive at the castle, Madam Blücher welcomes them in front of the door. Horses that carried them neigh the minute they see Madame Blücher, and Frankenstein muses: “I wonder what got into them.” In the Turkish remake, this joke is also preserved. When Timur and others arrive at the castle in My Friend Frankenstein, they are again welcomed by Madam and suddenly hear horse sounds. However, they don’t see any horse. When Timur looks around to understand the source of this sound, Madam tells him: “Maybe you’ll understand one day”—a moment that salutes to the original film, which was forbidden from being screened in Turkey. This small gesture expresses a hope for a freer future environment in which the Turkish audience can have access to the original film, presumably in a freer environment where censorship and bans would not be prevalent anymore.

Not only because of its subversion and manipulation of the governmental censorship, but also because it subverts and manipulates the expectations fostered by the film industry in the 1970s, Saydam’s remake allows us to understand the economic concerns in the cinema industry. These concerns eventually found solutions in the adaptation industry. As mentioned earlier, even though the studios could produce only 50 films a year, they were expected to produce some 200 films in a year. The demand was so high that the screen time had to be filled with alternatives of some sort. At the end of My Friend Frankenstein, we see Timur, Ayla, Timur’s fiancée, Monster, and Fatin in the same frame. Accompanied by the sound of a horse neigh, while both couples were kissing, Fatin enters with a huge clock in his hand, pointing at it, and they wave to the camera as Timur says: “Time is up, we can end the film now, good luck dear audience,” which implicitly states that they have managed to fill the screen time with a film that doesn’t touch upon any social issue and that they hope to make more such films despite political, societal, and economic oppression.

The Politics of Transnational Film Remakes: A Turkish Young Frankenstein Betwixt Coup d’etats,
Seda Öz, Literature Film Quarterly
Figure 3: Last Scene of My Friend Frankenstein

Legacy of Yeşilçam Era

The beginning of the 1980s marked the end of famous Yeşilçam era and this incredibly remake rich period. The number of films that were produced dropped significantly from hundreds to scores, and the industry retreated to a period of stagnation. After a series of coups, endless years of socio-cultural restlessness and an unbalanced economy, Turkey and the Turkish people took a break from the entertainment industry to recuperate. Movie theaters in small towns were closed,4 and the ones in cities were divided into small rooms in order to give space to Hollywood blockbuster movies, reflecting the changing demographic of the audience from adults and families to young urban people with Western tastes. The impact of globalization, Turkey’s membership in NATO, interactions with the European Union, and the developing relations with the U.S. ignited a new cultural shift in the country, which impacted the cinema industry as well. As part of the ‘Regulation for Foreign Capital,’ Warner Bros. and United International Pictures opened their Turkey branch in 1989, which was referred as the “Hollywood coup” by Esen (179). American distribution companies started to dominate the distribution channels. The monopolizing of movie theaters by American blockbusters meant that among the 485 films that were made in Turkey between 1989 and 1996, 385 of them were not shown in theaters (Scognamillo, Türk Sinema 425.) Out of 108 films released in 1993, only 11 of them were Turkish productions (Dorsay 11). Along with the decreasing number of films in Turkish cinema, the size of audience decreased drastically as well. The approximate size of the Turkish film audience decreased from 58.2 million in 1978 to 3 million in 1992. The approximate size of the audience for foreign films decreased from 22.5 million in 1978 to 10.1 million in 1992. While the audience was decreasing for Turkish films, however, the case was the opposite for foreign films.


Approximate Size of Audience for Turkish Films

Approximate Size of Audience for Foreign Films











































Figure 4: This table was created by the author using statistics from the following sources: (Scognamillo, Giovanni Scognamillo’nun 274). (Scognamillo, Türk Sinema 368-69).

These numbers clearly changed the nature of cinematic practices, including the approach to adaptations and remakes in Turkish cinema. Earlier directors and production companies used the lack of copyright laws and the lack of circulation of foreign films in the market to benefit from the practice of adaptations and remakes. The audiences in the 1960s and 1970s who were not familiar with American movies watched remakes instead as the product of their own national cinema. However, when they were replaced with younger, more “global” audiences that were familiar with American productions, the industry had to rethink remaking these films.  


When the first issue of Adaptation was published in 2008, Thomas Leitch announced that “after years of being stuck in the backwaters of the academy, adaptation studies is on the move” (“Adaptation Studies at a Crossroads” 63). A decade later, with various monographs and articles focusing specifically on transnational remakes that bring together different approaches that have found voice in different nations have started to appear as well. In other words, the scholarship of transnational remakes, after years of being stuck in the backwaters of adaptations studies, indicates that it too is on the move. In this new phase, the more closely I have worked with Turkish cinema, the more convinced I have become that it has been doubly marginalized by scholars who sidestep historizing them by not easily falling into those categories of European and Middle Eastern. Due to Turkey’s unique engagement with both the secular pole of twentieth-century Europe and the Islamic roots that have shaped Middle Eastern national cultures, research in this doubly marginalized cinema and its culture can bring unique perspectives to transnational film remakes in comparative methodologies and offer new directions in “transcultural competence,” by pushing back against the subjugation and elitism that have favored the few.

Verevis suggests that “[i]nstead of analyzing the transformations of particular adaptations and remakes, it is more productive to examine adaptation and remaking as historically variable practices” (Remakes 267). When we look at cross-cultural and transnational remakes in Turkish cinema, it is less important to consider the cross-cultural fertilization or the relationship between two cultures, or the triangular relationships among them, as the field has so far emphasized, than the profoundly different kinds of relationships that revolve around nationalistic borders. During the Yesilçam era, which coincides with a number of coups d’état in Turkish political history, the film industry largely focused on remaking American films in order to emphasize the cultural remoteness of their material so that they could avoid governmental, military, or public criticism, as well as censorship. As Turkey has once more been associated with conflicts of nationalism and borders following the 2016 coup attempt, Timon Singh has raised an important question: “Now, with 2018 seeing Erdoğan . . . tightening his grip on power, what’s to say that the country’s filmmakers won’t again push back against increasing restrictions? Perhaps, another resurgence of Turkish mockbusters might be on the horizon” (n.p.). While these earlier examples of remakes in Turkish cinema continue to entertain audiences of different cultures and generations, there has been a notable absence of remakes in contemporary Turkish cinema after the 1980s. Whether there will be a new boom of remakes during the Erdoğan regime, which has led to the imprisonment of journalists, academics, and artists, is a question yet to be answered. In the meantime, studying the nature of remaking practices in different national cinemas continues to offer a sketch of how international and national politics impact industrial decisions and how cinematic cultures indirectly speak to political orthodoxy.


1  Mockbuster films are low budget productions, usually shot on an accelerated timeline, with the intentional or unintentional aim of exploiting the original major productions.

2  Please check the following websites for film posters: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362137/ and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072431/. 3  Check the following websites to see the similarities in Toros Monster’s and My Friend Frankenstein’s posters: https://www.tsa.org.tr/en/film/filmgoster/6212/toros-canavari and https://www.xappie.com/ott/webseries-details/sevimli-frankestayn-movie-streaming-watch-online-2816

4  The number of screens in Turkey which was 2954 in 1969, decreased to 460 in 1988 (Scognamillo, 2011: 274) and reached to its lowest number in the year 1993 with 281 in total (TSI 92).

Works Cited

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Cohen, Jeremy Jeffrey. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Monster Theory: Reading Culture, Ed. Jeremy Jeffrey Cohen. University of Minnesota Press, 1996, pp. 3-25.

Dorsay, Atilla. 1994. “Sinema 1993” [Cinema 1993]. Antrakt February: 9-17.
Elliott, Kamilla. Theorizing Adaptation. Oxford University Press, 2020.

Esen, Şükran (2010). Türk Sinemasının Kilometre Taşları, 3. Baskı, İstanbul, Agora Kitaplığı.

Grant, Catherine. “Recognising Billy Budd in Beau Travail: Epistemology and Hermeneutics of an Auteurist ‘Free’ Adaptation.” Screen vol. 43, no. 1, 2002, pp. 55-73.

Gürata, Ahmet. “Hollywood in Vernacular: Translation and Cross-Cultural Reception of American Films in Turkey.” Going to the Movies: Hollywood and the Social Experience of Cinema. Ed. Richard Maltby, Melvyn Stokes, Robert C. Allen. University of Exeter Press, 2015, pp. 333-47.

Hassler-Forest, Dan, and Pascal Nicklas. “Introduction.” The Politics of Adaptation: Media Convergence and Ideology. Ed. Dan Hassler-Forest and Pascal Nicklas.Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 1-4.

Jauss, Hans Robert. “Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory.” Toward an Aesthetic of Reception: Theory and History of Literature Volume 2. University of Minnesota Press, 1982, pp. 3-45.

Kipnis, Laura. “How to Look at Pornography” Pornography: Film and Culture. Ed. Peter Lehman, Rutgers University Press, 2006, pp. 118-129.

Lehman, Peter. “Introduction: ‘A Dirty Little Secret’ -Why Teach and Study Pornography?” Pornography: Film and Culture. Ed. Peter Lehman, Rutgers University Press, 2006, pp. 1-21.

Leitch, Thomas. “Twice-Told Tales: Disavowal and the Rhetoric of the Remake.” Dead Ringers: The Remake in Theory and Practice. Ed. Jennifer Forrest and Leonard Koos. State University of New York Press, 2002, pp. 37-62.

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