sinecine ISSN: 1309-5838

In the Name of Law: Who Rules?


A founding example of classical Turkish cinema (“Yeşilçam”), Lütfi Akad’s Kanun Namına (In the Name of Law) is often read as a moral allegory about the risks and dangers of modern urban life, and as a yearning for the lost traditional family life. This article argues that its position vis a vis modernity is more sophisticated than what such a “traditional” reading allows. From a formal point of view, Kanun Namına is avowedly and proudly modern. Further, its so-called moral allegory goes far beyond a simple dichotomy between tradition and modernity and involves an intricately articulated set of power relations, especially class and gender differences. While its standard populism codes class difference into cultural and sexual difference, its fascination with machines and mechanical aspects of a modern city as well as the literary adventurism in its symbolic aspect undermines its apparently self-assured moral message. It turns out that, although Kanun Namına speaks in the name of law, it is perhaps not so sure who exactly rules on the level of somatic and subjective processes.

Keywords: Modernity, cinema of Turkey, stereotype, simulacrum, phallus, Lütfi Akad.