A Turkish movie made in 2007, “Bliss” is anything but. From the opening scene of the hillside in spectacular cinematography recalling “Woman in the Dunes”, “Bliss” is a beautifully acted cinematic gem that pits village customs against modern urbanization, religion against secularism, the disenfranchised against a justice system that blames and punishes the victim of the crime, not the criminal. I found “Bliss” spellbinding.
The story is about three characters. Meryem, a seventeen-year-old shepherdess, is brutally raped and then ostracized by her community and its leaders. She is expected to commit suicide or face an “honor killing”. The male cousin (Cemal), son of the village leader (Meryem’s uncle) is assigned the task of murdering her. A professor they meet (Irfan) gives both Cemal and Meryem shelter.
Meryem’s father and grandmother are inconsolable and powerless in the face of village customs but resigned to accept the tradition of “honor killing”. Cemal is unaware of the nascent love he is developing for her. Against his own best interests and fundamentalist values, Cemal decides to abandon tradition and go on the run with Meryem, first to the city to see his brother and a friend, then to a distant fishing village. Serendipitously, Cemal and Meryem meet up with Irfan, a generous, exuberant university professor who is embarking on a sailing trip, and needs a crew. Together this unlikely trio sets forth on a journey that will change their lives. In the final half of the film Meryem, the shy girl who has been almost invisible throughout her life, controlled by others and without a voice of her own, quietly emerges as a courageous young woman igniting no less than a revolution through her determination to discover happiness, no matter how seemingly inconsequential it may seem to others.