The Kurds have been under intense persecution from the Turks for decades, but during the latest years, the situation worsened significantly, particularly because, apart from the Turkish army and police, the Kurds also had to face Isis. Between 2012 and 2019, the Kurds set up a ‘stateless democracy’ in Rojava, northern Syria, based on local self-governance, gender equality and a communal economy. The Rojava Film Commune was established in 2015, in the middle of the Syrian civil war, to make films based on that region’s reality. The present film is a result of the Commune and its main part was shot in Kobane, in the borders of Turkey, where, at the time, there was a great battle against Isis in Raqqa City and the Turkish army began to bomb Afrin.
The film tells the real story of the resistance of a group of 60 young people who attempted to break the Turkish siege of Sur in 2015, the historic heart of the Turkish-Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. The hundred-day battle claimed many victims and Sur was almost destroyed, but a number of members of the group managed to escape, and two of them actually act in the film.
The story is narrated mostly through the perspective of Zilian, a young woman who returns to her hometown looking to find out about the circumstances of her brother’s death. Soon after she arrives and witnesses the hideous tactics of the Turkish armed forces towards the Kurds of the area, she finds herself a member of the armed revolt. The film proceeds on narrating the story of her and her comrades against the Turkish forces.
With documentary-like realism, Ersin Celik recreates the area, the events and the characters of the actual story, creating a portrait of people who are characterized by heroic resolve, but also of despair, to a point at least. Celik makes a point of highlighting Kurdish culture (through the songs and the dances) and their mentality, as the fact that they consider the ones who died in Turkish hands, martyrs; however, the violence and the harsh circumstances of the siege eventually take over as the movie becomes an action one. The origins of the revolt, the way the members of the Resistance get their weapons and the fact that women participate equally are all presented in the most impressive fashion, throughout the movie.
At the same time, Celik pulls no punches in depicting the inhumane tactics of the Turks but also the fact that some of the Kurds eventually lost heart and turned against their comrades. The two scenes that show the fact, the one when Zilian learns how her brother died, the sole scene where the fighters laugh all together and the one where they say goodbye are the most memorable, in a movie, though, that functions exceptionally well as a whole.
The most outstanding part, however, is that the film also works quite well as a war movie, with the ruins providing a nominal setting for the action, which is excellently directed by Celik. Cemil Kızıldağ’s cinematography finds its apogee in these scenes, which are shot with documentary-like precision and realism, stripped from any unnecessary, grotesque images, since Celik purpose is to inform, not to shock. The same applies to Sose Avakian and Xavi Carrasco’s editing, who also induce the movie with a rather fast pace that suits the action in the best way.
I cannot say that any members of the cast stands out but Arin Baysal, Delil Piran, Cihan Seve, Arif Demir and Sevda Kina all function quite well as a collective crew, with their focus being on realism, without the usual exaltation that many war films feature.
“The End Will be Spectacular” is an excellent film that functions greatly as both a documentary and a war drama, as it achieves to inform while entertaining.