Write: Jülide Karahan
Shooting for “Labirent” (Labyrinth), Tolga Örnek’s new film starring Meltem Cumbul and Timuçin Esen, took place in Mardin, Istanbul, and Frankfurt. Meltem Cumbul explained the character of Reyhan in the movie, which will be released to theaters on December 23.
“Reyhan, whom I portray in the film, is an experienced intelligence agent. She is a female character not explored much in Turkish cinema. Usually, in action films, female characters either sit and wait in the car and all the men do the world, or they serve a certain emotional space and represent that. That Reyhan was in a directly active situation within the scenario and could show her emotional side with her child even when in an extremely tough job constituted a whole state for me. When I first read the script of “Labirent,” the Reyhan character impressed me very much. I wanted to portray her, I wanted to bring her life,” said Cumbul, providing a long introduction. She always started with herself during preparations. “In the base personality studies, my fighter and objective side was especially useful for me. Reyhan is a woman who can go for a solution very quickly, is relentless, resilient, and questioning, and makes decisions quickly. My demeanor, particularly in business life, can be described like that.” According to Cumbul, Reyhan is a person who tries to understand people before her via her high empathy on one hand, but doesn’t forfeit her own point of view on the other; she is quite the idealist.
Cumbul says she wishes to also emphasize what kind of pressure and contradiction having such a dangerous job inflicts on Reyhan as a mother. According to her, one of the things that most affected her is as follows: “You can die at any moment and leave your children alone in this world; you might not see them grow up. I tried to express how such an emotional state deeply affects a woman’s life. That Reyhan maintains her innocence despite the corrupt structure of the system she is in, that she still clings to her profession with great passion, and that she never gives up on looking at life with hope were subjects I placed much importance on with regard to the character’s psychology. Tolga [Örnek] really wrote the film’s scenario very beautifully. In my opinion, it is very important for a man to value a female character this much and write her comprehensively…”
Cumbul says she was challenged considerably while preparing for the film. She confesses she thought, “Will I be able to do it?” on the first day, and adds, “’Labirent’ was a film that challenge me very much physically. Shooting began in Mardin and we climbed stairs for twelve hours in 47-degree heat almost non-stop. I did Pilates while preparing for the film, but I didn’t have as much foresight as Timuçin [Esen]—he had a much longer period of preparation; every day for two months, after meetings concerning the film, he walked from Zincirlikuyu to Taksim [approx. 5–6 km]. Shooting lasted nine weeks—action, explosions, fights, arranging all of these, making adjustments according to the locations, preparations… We experienced all the challenges of shooting in very crowded locations in Istanbul especially. For example, we have a chase scene; it starts in Beyoğlu and ends in Kartal.
FROM TİMUÇİN ESEN
“The process I like best concerning this job is really the preparation part—getting prepared, thinking, going into that world and preparing yourself for that role, and gaining knowledge. Reading, therefore… This is how it happened in this film too. We underwent a fairy long process of preparation before the film. We talked, debated, asked questions, and gave answers. Because it is a film that expects a lot from an actor physically as well, I tried to prepare myself for this shooting stage that would be challenging and long.”
Born 1970 in İzmir, Meltem Cumbul graduated from the Department of Theater at Mimar Sinan University in 1991. Cumbul first went to London and then was a television presenter for some time. Her first feature film was “Bir Sonbahar Hikâyesi” (An Autumn Story). Cumbul, who appeared in such films as “Usta Beni Öldürsene” (Master, Kill Me), directed by Barış Pirhasan, “Abdülhamit Düşerken” (The Fall of Abdulhamid), directed by Ziya Öztan, and “Gegen die Wand” (Head-On), directed by Fatih Akın, performed alongside experienced actor Şener Şen and Timuçin esen in the film “Gönül Yarası” (Lovelorn) in 2005.
FROM TOLGA ÖRNEK
“When something happens here, the West always looks at this at a statistic. The reason I really wrote the film is that after the HSBC and British Consulate explosions [in 2003], these actions were not covered in foreign books. New York, London, Spain, Bali—all of those are there, but we aren’t… But actually, we are in a very critical position for both East and West. We wanted to express this state of being stuck in between… But by reducing it to human stories…”
A TURLISH-GERMAN PRODUCTION
Featuring such important actors as Sarp Akkaya, Rıza Kocaoğlu, Umut Kurt, Melike Güner, Ozan Bilen, Erdal Küçükkömürcü, Cem Bender, Aslıhan Gürbüz, and Altan Gördüm besides Timuçin Esen and Meltem Cumbul, “Labirent” is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, Eurimages, and the HessenInvest Film Commision (Germany).
SEVEN YEARS LATER
“Labirent” brought Timuçin Esen and Meltem Cumbul, who had not shot in Turkey for seven years and last appeared alongside one another in the film “Gönül Yarası,” together once again. Esen and Cumbul appear before viewers as two experienced intelligence agents who experience a nuanced relationship under the shadow of their professions.