sinecine ISSN: 1309-5838

Prisons of the Cinema of Turkey


The history of prisons in Turkey reflects the history of Turkey itself. Representations of prisons and themes of imprisonment in Turkish cinema offer a spectrum of this very history. This article begins with Foucault’s “dispositive” and “episteme” concepts and goes on to discuss the change in prisons over time and how these changes become a theme in cinema. It is thought that fantastic historical movies with dungeon scenes can be treated as an “archaeological field” of prison-themed cinema. The choice of the word “penitentiary” over “jail” by those in political power also highlights a change in the perception of prisons in society and a change in official policies towards prisons. The article’s framework is based on the periodical changes in Turkish cinema’s view and discussed in terms of the 1940’s prisons, post 12th of May 1970 prisons, 12th of September 1980 prisons, and the F-Type prisons of the 2000s. Profiles of prisoners shown in cinema, conditions of political prisoners, abuses in prisons, pressures on prisoners, and torture are some of the main topics in this article. The movies that use prisons as a theme or reflect prisoners’ lives in context of the era’s episteme and the movies that take cinema’s prison dispositive while being simultaneously a component of that dispositive contribute to the idea of an art form.   

Keywords: Prison movies, F-type prisons, episteme, dispositive, naked life, naked human, penitentiary, prison, dungeon, September 12, March 12.