Law of the Border (1966)

law of the border poster 1966 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting and different story

Attempt to destroy the film has left only very ragged copies

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Law of the Border

Studio:   Dadas Films

Genre(s):   Drama

Release Date(s):   1966

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

law of the border hidir zeki-atilla-ergun-yilmaz-guney

Be a farmer…get an education…trust me…it will turn out great!

Hidir (Yılmaz Güney) lives at the border of Syria and Turkey and makes a living by illegally transporting goods across the border with great danger to his life. He wants a different world for his son Yusuf (Hikmet Olgun) who shows an aptitude for education. When a new official takes over control of the border, Zeki (Atilla Ergün) tries to convince Hidir that education and a stable environment could be key to changing his son’s future. The people around Hidir don’t see a reason to change their lives, and it could cause Hidir everything.

Directed by Ömer Lütfi Akad, Law of the Border (Hudutların Kanunu) is a Turkish drama. The film was released in 1966, but after the 1980 Turkish coup, all known copies of the film were destroyed. A surviving copy was rediscovered, but the quality of the surviving is low grade and missing frames and sound cues. The film was restored in 2011 by the World Cinema Foundation which was founded by Martin Scorsese to help preserve endangered work. The Criterion Collection released a restored version of the film (Criterion #878).

law of the border hidir son yusuf yilmaz guney hikmet olgun

Listen…this is what happens when you try to learn stuff.

Occasionally, I like to pick up a movie I’ve never heard of or read about. In situations like this, the Criterion Collection is often a good bet. I was looking for a shorter film to watch, and Law of the Border popped up. While not a perfect film, it is an interesting film and aspect of the film still ring true today in the world’s political climate.

The thing that stands out in the story is the idea of education. In the movie, Hidir believes in having his son educated (something he wasn’t), but the other people of Hidir’s small town see education as a threat. It is a way to indoctrinate the children and a means to spy on the people. They feel their lives are good and that education is a judgment call on their quality of life and intelligence. Education is a threat…a sentiment echoed today by groups like Boko Haram (which particularly targets Western education). In the movie, it is a more eternal conflict which shows it isn’t always East vs. West in the situation.

law of the border minefield hidir yilmaz guney

Well crap….

The cast is led by Yılmaz Güney who is solid as the smuggler Hidir who tries to make a change for his son and his people. Güney went on to fame and became an award-winning director himself before being forced to flee Turkey and prison. Turkey ended up revoking his citizenship, and Güney died of gastric cancer in 1984 in France.

The movie is a reminder that not only old movies are in danger of becoming “lost”. Law of the Border is rough to watch. Despite some technical skill, it looks like a much older film because the quality of the surviving film is poor. The film was cleaned up as much as possible, but it still is grainy and choppy.

Law of the Border was a nice find. It is a short little film that is quick to watch and sometimes difficult to follow because a lot of politics are shoved into the film. It is worth seeking out if you are tired of the typical world cinema fares that are more readily available. I hope someday that a better, magically clean version of the film might surface so you can see the film how it was meant to be seen.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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