Mika Kaurismäki, who began his life in cinema with his brother Aki, is a leading figure of the Finnish cinema of 80s and 90s. Kaurismaki Brothers, as we know them, understanding of cinema is quite similar. When watching their movies, the dullness, loneliness of the characters, the language of editing(?) and the uses of music resemble each other to a point where it is quite difficult to understand which of the two directed the movie. Although the Finnish culture and being siblings are the underlying reasons of this resemblance, it can also be assumed that beginning their life in cinema and working in many movies together are the main factors. Mika Kaurismäki, who lives in Brazil nowadays and owns a bar while making a documentary about musicians, seems to like traveling, as a part of the movie is taking place in Istanbul.
The opening sequence of the movie, translated as Zombi and the Ghost Train(?), takes place in Eminonu. Antti (Silu Seppälä), called “Zombie”, who sleeps on the streets, goes to a pub on the Galata Bridge and then the movie flashes back to 6 months ago and starts telling how Zombie ended up in Istanbul. Zombie, a divergent character that we are used to encountering in the history of cinema, is a young and talented man who is dragged by life away from his aspirations. The key moment in his life is when he meets the band called the Ghost train while returning home from his military service. The band appears through the movie in a mysterious manner as they have a lot of instruments yet no one has seen them playing. Although he has tried to work in numerous jobs in the past, Zombie could not manage to accommodate himself to the conditions like a “normal” individual. He was able to play the bass guitar, but he has never considered to do it as a job. Despite the efforts of his close friend Harri (Matti Pellonpää) and his girlfriend Marjo (Marjo Leinonen) for him, things would not go right for Zombie.
The final part of the movie again takes place in Istanbul. We witness the Istanbul of 90s through the streets of Galata and Eminonu as the director successfully depicts the culture of the city. The movie is full of details that gives you a smile and makes you enjoy such as the shopkeepers who can speak almost any language, the shoe shine boys who would tag along the tourists, the streets, the hotels…There is even a surprise cameo from Halil Ergün. With its end that fill eyes with tears, Mika Kaurismäki manages to make a good job for the Finnish cinema and to capture our hearts through the Istanbul scenes.
Author: Rumeysa Kaya