Modern storytelling is diverse. Along with conventional oral storytelling, authors enjoy many other narrative styles and genres while depicting the human condition. Stage and screen acting also play a role in the art. However, despite the fact that every movie depends on a script, which is, in fact, a type of a story, and that numerous movie directors generally are former or active literary authors, most of the actors are not good at writing.
There are always exceptions, though. For example, actor Viggo Mortensen, who is a real global phenomenon in today’s filmmaking business, is also a talented poet and photographer. Gene Hackman, another phenomenal actor, also wrote three novels. Likewise, it’s hard to decide whether Woody Allen is a filmmaker or an author.
As for the Turkish cinema, some famous actors such as Cüneyt Arkın, Yılmaz Güney and Fikret Hakan began making movies after attempts to create a reputation in literature. All three were short fiction writers involved with the modernist literary movements of the 1950s, including Mavi Hareketi (the Blue Movement), which was initiated by major poet Attila Ilhan, before they became eternal stars of Yeşilçam, the nickname of the classical Turkish cinema. Arkın did not insist on writing much, while Güney’s leftist circle has always shown their respect to the cult star by republishing his stories. On the other hand, Hakan turned to writing in his senior years and put his signature on a thick volume of Turkish cinema history.
Fikret Hakan was born Bumin Gaffar Çıtanak on April 23, 1934, in western Balıkesir province to a humble middle-class family of public servants. His father Abdullah Gaffar Çıtanak, who used “A. Gaffar Güney” as a pen name, was a teacher and translator, while his mother Fatma Belkıs was a nurse at a public hospital. Abdullah Gaffar was a respected personality within the literary circles of the capital Ankara before he left his wife and son and began to live a mysterious life. At the time, some believed he had lost his sanity, while others suggested he had fallen in love with another woman.
Fikret Hakan lived with his mother after his parents’ divorce and visited many cities in Anatolia because of his mother’s job. He attended various schools in the western provinces of Bursa, Eskişehir and Istanbul, where he left school for good. His true love was for the arts. He published some short stories and acted at private theaters in Istanbul at the age of 16.
Hakan published his early stories in the Istanbul Ekspres newspaper, while his first role was at a small opera staged at the Ses Theater in 1950. He entered the cinema business in 1952 with the film “Köprüaltı Çocuklar” (“Homeless Boys”). However, he made his real debut with “Beyaz Mendil” (“White Handkerchief”), a film by major movie director Lütfi Akad, in 1955. “Beyaz Mendil” was a romantic film with a social realistic setting and full of folk themes. Hakan played a brave young villager in love with a young girl from another village, while enmity between the two villages leads to fatal outcomes.
Hakan served in the military between 1958 and 1960 before he took the leading role in director Metin Erksan’s “Yılanların Öcü" in 1962. “Yılanların Öcü” is considered one of the best movies of the Turkish cinema history. The story of the film revolves around a dramatic clash between two families and resistance against oppression. The film became politically popular and helped open a new era for Turkish cinema.
Hakan took the leading role in another left-wing political film two years later, “Karanlıkta Uyananlar” (“Those who Wake up at Dark”), scripted by famous communist author Vedat Türkali and directed by Ertem Göreç. The political film was based on real events. Like the “Yılanların Öcü,” “Karanlıkta Uyananlar” also saw mixed popularity. Some people loved the film, while the anti-communist associations heavily criticized it saying that it was mere propaganda. From today’s point of view, most critics believe that the film was artistically a success of realism in cinema.
Hakan remained one of the heroes of the socio-political cinema of Turkey until his later years, although he also took part in various film genres including gangster films, comedies, et cetera. He played in more than 200 films throughout his entire career.
Hakan published his early stories with his later literary works. He wrote the story of his father and also published a short collection of poems. Another interesting written work by him is a huge volume on Turkish cinema history. Hakan taught cinema for some years at Osmangazi University in Eskişehir.
He married several times. His wives were Lale Sarı, Semiramis Pekkan, who is the sister of famous musical diva Ajda Pekkan, Neşecan Paşmak, famous singer and actress Hümeyra, Fatma Zeynep Mirgün and Tijen Kılıç.
Hakan received various national and international cinema awards. Moreover, Osmangazi University granted him an honorary doctorate. He was also a recipient of the honorary State Artist, a title awarded by the Turkish government.
He died on July 11, 2017, in Istanbul.
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