Oregon is indeed quite a strange name for a Turkish movie, but if you just watch the movie, you will understand that the film is a nostalgic tapestry of emotions, a sort of a ‘mix tape’ of eccentric individuals’ hopes and dreams who all came together for a brief moment in time because of a cassette titled, you guessed it, Oregon. The movie, directed by Kerem Ayan, is like an evocative summer daydream, where one looks out the window and sees real people going about their day, and you can’t help but empathize with them. This film is as much about non-filmmakers as it is about filmmakers. Functioning as a commentary on Turkey’s cultural shift from the 80s to the present day and changes in cinematic tastes, Oregon begins with Gaye and Hakan, who visit their friend Selen’s place in Istanbul to return her the cassette, but ultimately land in a police station.
Plot Synopsis: What Is The Film About?
It was the summer of 1985, and Gaye and Hakan had come to Istanbul from Bodrum in hopes that they would see their filmmaker friend Selen and that they would also get a chance to return her cassette, which was of sentimental value to her. Nothing of the sort happened. Gaye and Hakan visited Selen’s place, a building where her flat was on the topmost floor. Selen wasn’t home, but they didn’t want to leave without returning the cassette. When nothing worked, they tried to access an entrance through the roof, trying to throw the cassette over to her room. Durmus, the building’s doorman, noticed this and stopped the couple. Gaye and Hakan got into an altercation with him, and ultimately they both landed up in jail as Gaye pushed Durmus and he fell down the stairs. Not much harm was done, but the furious Durmus decided to file a complaint against the couple and labeled them as thieves and hooligans. Gaye and Hakan were stuck, and only Selen, who had gone away to shoot a new movie, could save them. When she was not reachable, Hakan decided to call in another filmmaker friend, Firat, to help them, who was having his own personal and professional crises that he needed to deal with.
Why Was It So Important To Return The Cassette?
It’s where the nostalgia of the entire film begins. A simple mixtape had become so important that they were ready to go the extra mile to return it. Hakan was willing to go through the roof in order to safely drop the cassette. He didn’t even want to hand it to Firat or the doorman, as he feared the cassette could get lost and then he would be blamed for not having taken care of it. Hakan had borrowed the cassette from Selen some eight months ago, and he feared losing it. So it had to be returned. The real reason was that it was of huge sentimental value to Selen. She was once the girlfriend of Turkey’s relatively famous movie star Orcun, and he himself had recorded the songs on the cassette and gifted it to Selen. She had given the tape to Hakan for just a day, but he had kept it for eight months. He couldn’t bear the thought of losing the only collectible item he had ever had that was related to a famous film personality, and apart from that fact, Selen was liable to lose her mind if he lost that cassette. This was the reason Hakan was so nervous and wanted almost to rid himself of the cassette, as he always feared he would lose it.
Why Wasn’t Firat Able To Leave Ceren’s House?
Hakan tried to get through to Selen but couldn’t. The next best person to call was Firat, but Gaye was unsure about him and whether he would be able to get any help. But they had no choice. Hakan called Firat and told them about the pickle they were in. Durmus had charged them with assault, and breaking and entering. The breaking and entering part of the charges could be dropped if Firat somehow managed to contact Selen. Firat only knew Ceren, his ex-girlfriend, who could help in this matter, as only she had the phone number of the hotel Selen was staying at with a British film crew. Firat visited Ceren, and immediately the flame was reignited. Firat had the perfect excuse to disturb Ceren again, and it wasn’t as if she was completely over him. He could have left simply after informing Ceren to reach Selen and tell her to call the Sisil Police Station. This is the year 1985 we are talking about. Ceren and Firat were like the quintessential toxic couple, but they did not know it. Firat had cheated on her, but Ceren couldn’t get over him; the most she managed was to break up with him. But seeing Firat again and listening to him profess his love for her, she gave him another chance. They made love and almost forgot about Hakan and Gaye being stuck in the police station until Selen called back.
Why Did Orcun Save Gaye And Hakan?
Oregon is about that time when people felt real trust in each other and were wary of breaking it. If they did, they would just be stuck bearing the burden of the guilt forever. Take, for example, the story of Sevket (the cop who wasn’t willing to let Hakan and Gaye go free, even though Selen had called the station) and Sermin, the sex worker. Sevket had a relationship with Sermin long ago, but he buckled under his family’s pressure and married a ‘nice’ girl, who now didn’t speak two nice words to him. Sevket discussed important matters with Sermin from time to time and still held a special place in her heart, even after so many years. Sermin too reassured him when he saw him panic, like when he was about to get his cancer reports. They hadn’t forgotten each other, even after so many years.
Only in such times could Firat disturb the movie star Orcun and not only tell him how Selen’s friends were in trouble but also take the opportunity to tell him the plot of his next film, ‘You’re Alone’. Orcun could have easily refused to help. He didn’t know Hakan and Gaye directly, but as they were his ex-girlfriend Selen’s friends, it was reason enough to show up at the police station himself and help the couple. The only man who didn’t seem to get any help whatsoever in the beginning was Durmus. He was pestered by the residents, pushed and thrown around by Hakan and Gaye, and even Sevket had asked him to take back the case of assault. Durmus was fuming, and he broke down in front of the elderly residents, Miss Fazila and her husband, ex-colonel Burhan. This display of vulnerability was extremely touching, and it showed that even the heavyset, stoic man could also break down after having a tough day.
Oregon, thus becomes a tale of men being vulnerable, women taking charge, and people being people who sometimes make bad decisions and then rectify them. Durmus was relieved after bawling his eyes out; became rather ambitious dreaming about a powerful life, and had a good time with his wife, who otherwise screamed at the top of her lungs at him. Orcun got Hakan and Gaye out of prison and took all of them, the newly reunited Firat and Ceren included, to a nice dinner, where he reminisced about the times when he and Selen were together. He clearly wanted to marry her, which is what he told Sevket he was going to do, but it was a lie, just to ensure Sevket didn’t ask any more questions as to why Orcun was so eager to get Hakan and Gaye out. But he also knew that Selen wouldn’t be at peace married to a star like him.
During the ending of Oregon, the cassette that had started it all was not found in Hakan’s bag. He had in fact dropped it at the station, and it was stolen by a criminal. This could only signify one thing: that times were about to change. Hakan, Gaye, and others were waiting for the millennium, thinking they had bright careers ahead of them in filmmaking, but Turkey’s cultural landscape and value systems were about to shift. Selen can be expected to be furious over the cassette getting lost, but ultimately, she too would understand the extenuating circumstances. In the end, everyone managed to do some or the other thing with their lives, having some kind of success in their fields. Hakan and Gaye got married, and they continued to be tradespeople. Gaye ended up reviewing films, while Firat continued his torrid love life with Ceren. He made his feature film with Orcun, which helped both their careers. Durmus became a realtor and tried to enter politics. Burhan and Fazila died peacefully in their rooms. The filmmaking group may have met again, but it can be asserted that it was never like the summer of ‘85.