Yazgi or “Fate”.

Is life meaningless? Musa thinks so. He is not stirred up by death, violence, adultery or persecution. He even confesses to murders he does not do. Life is a bleak and dull existence in his world, but it suits him, he does not care what others think, does not believe in God, or even himself. There is nothing but absurdity, and he is convicted by his strange moral behaviors.

Taking the Albert Camus novel “The Stranger” and utilizing the skeleton of the story, the Turkish director weaves a tale of intrigue and woe in this existential masterpiece. The key scene at the end of the movie pits the prosecutor and the convicted man in a simple exchange that is interrupted by a man who must come in to fix the door to the office as the bolt is useless. Juxtaposing the two men in a life and death conversation as the man does his maintenance offers us just how absurd the conversation becomes moment by moment. There are some differences in the stories, most especially that the protagonist does not get the death sentence. And the purpose of Camus’s part two was to illustrate how ineffective the judicial system was at the time, whereas this one is more about the absurdist’s view of life.

Absurdism is an offshoot of existential theory. The meaning of existence in absurdism is only in relation to the individual, not the collective. There is no meaning to life, life is meaning, as defined by the living. And so, it is useless to worry needlessly over the actions of others, that is their own contrived meaning to their lives. We can see in this movie that Musa is not fazed by his mother’s death, his neighbor’s violence, his co-workers interest in getting married, and his realization that she is cheating on him. He is nonresponsive to all of it, but curiously, he also does not fight against the allegations that he killed his bosses’ family, when clearly it was his boss who admitted the deed. After 6 years he is exonerated, even then showing no emotion at being let back to society. When he returns home, as though he had never left it, his wife makes him his coffee and even the sight of a small child under the age of 5 does not bother him in any way. The viewer who may not realize the reason behind his malaise believes he must be mentally ill and of course he is an odd specimen of a man in society.

The key existential question here seems to focus on meaning in life separate from the “other” and only for ones-self. If we all behaved this oddly and coldly, we would be ostracized, yet each of the character’s in the film have their own existential crisis’s and quirks in behavior. Because none of them exhibits what is considered “normal” behavior, they are all representations of their own personal choices and societies expectations are laid upon them. The question of “God” is brought up in both the film and the book, although in the book Meursault eventually rails at a priest who wishes him to conform before he meets his maker. In the film, he has an existential dialog with the judge who cannot conceive of Musa’s non-acceptance of a supreme being, Musa is so non-confrontational he is practically asleep in his answers of “I don’t know”, and “It does not mean anything to me” attitude.

 

The encyclopedia of philosophy explains the difference between absurdism and existentialism in the following way: “The absurd is born out of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.”  Sartre indicated that “humanity must live in a world that is and will forever be hostile or indifferent towards them. “ His belief was that the universe will never truly care for humanity the way we would like it to. Further explanation would indicate that an atheist view of the world is described as one where people create either stories or Gods, to fill a void in their lives or to as satisfy their needs. Absurdist’s do not need to know if everything has a purpose or not, they simply exist in the world making meaning  for themselves, if they feel it is something they need to do, not have to do. While existentialism need not be a part of the absurdist view, it is a close “cousin” to this philosophical style.

The title of the film is “Fate” in Turkish. I believe many people feel as though the hand of fate dictates their own lives and one cannot escape its hold. In this case, Musa is fated to be jailed and convicted; he does nothing to fight against his fate, which he believes is sealed. Just the same way he writes a letter for his friend, and shoots a gun at the whore’s brothers in the movie, his decision making skills are not based on logic, or emotion, but seem to emanate from his careless disregard for his life and the lives of others.

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