Turkish Delight (1973) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

We finally have a disagreement. One thumb up, one down. (Well, I recommend it for the historical value and for the sex and nudity, but not as a high quality motion picture)

Tuna's comments in white

Turks Fruit (1973) was just released in the US as Turkish Delight, a perfect translation of Turks Fruit into English of the candy known in Turkey as Lokum. It is also known as the film that ate my life for two days. Think of this film as "Love Story" European edition, but with more honesty, more passion, and a whole lot more exposure. It was directed by Paul Verhoeven and was voted the best Dutch film of the 20th century by Nederlands Film Festival. It marked the debut of Monique van de Ven in the female lead, and is likely Rutger Hauer's best performance as the male lead. We have tons of full-frontal, both male and female, known and unknown.

As the film opens, we see Hauer's fantasies of best was to torture and kill his ex-wife and her boyfriend. He is laying on his back in bed in an apartment so filthy you can smell it through the monitor. He then sees a box of pictures of his ex on the floor, sticks one to the wall, and bops the old baloney staring at it. Thus, we find out that he is very bitter and depressed about the breakup, but still deeply in love and lust with her. The next 15 minutes are amazing. Hauer's character (Erik Vonk) decides to clean up his act and screw his way back to health and happiness with a parade of women. The first, he dismisses as soon as the sex is over.  When she complains that she has nothing to remember her by, he draws her a rough sketch of his organ. His second conquest, he meets when he jumps into her convertible and refuses to get out. Cut to her trying to take her top off and asking for help. He says, "Don't bother, I'll just use the bottom half." The way he uses her bottom half is by cutting off a hunk of pubic hair and pasting it in his scrap book of conquests in front of her (Unknown 2 image 5).

Next, we have a rather unremarkable scene with a naked woman eating a banana (Unknown 3). Then he is in bed with Unknown 4, and, after sex, tells her that her butt has too much fat. When she retaliates by making a comment about his ex, he throws her naked into the street. He brings home Unknown 5, and starts to undress her, but doesn't even get inside the apartment when he realizes that this woman can't replace his ex either.

Cut to two years earlier, and the actual love story. Since I am strongly recommending this film, I don't want to give away too many details, but the formula is boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl, boy loses girl. Along they way, they engage in mishaps, passion, battles and adventures that include him zipping a testicle up in his fly. He is a sculptor and a rebel. She is young and living at home, but certainly no virgin. She picks him up hitchhiking, and they pull into a rest stop and bone away in the front seat. They do marry, but she is too young, and he is too possessive eventually driving her away. She complains that all he wants is sex and a figure model; she is young enough that she still wants to party with friends. The film gets dramatically better marks from women, probably because they understand that his obsession with her was not what she needed.

If you started the film without knowing anything about it, you would probably think like I did that it was going to be a particularly bloody serial killer film. In the course of relating the relationship between Hauer and van de Ven, there are some very ugly images of worms, maggots, rot and decay all Peter Greenaway. I could have done without them, but that did not ruin the film for me. 


Both Rutger Hauer and Monique van de Ven appear full-frontal in many scenes. Several unknowns add to the female nudity (see Tuna's comments)
Scoop's comments in yellow: 

I think this is, by far, the weakest of the "big three" from Verhoeven. This one doesn't work for me. It's really a prisoner of its time period. It was made during the hippie days, and has the usual cliches from that era. It has a strong anti-establishment spark which will probably speak to kids of many generations, but it's sophomoric and primitive compared to Verhoeven's later efforts.

Hauer and van de Ven, as a couple, have a strong streak of anarchy. He is a sculptor, and she prepares to show the queen her boobs when his statue is unveiled, for example, and they generally get crazy in otherwise formal occasions. This part of the movie has kind of a free spirited "hey, hey we're the Monkees"  attitude which supplies some laughs, but there are a lot of elements that are dated, and have really lost their edge.

First and foremost, there is the exaggerated nature of their "freedom". It seems to me that Monique and Rutger spend altogether too much time showing that they are happy carefree kids. When they are not in bed making the two backed beast, they are dancing through the streets of Amsterdam, riding bikes in traffic, jumping up and down while they hold hands, playing catch with salamis in the supermarket, mooning the queen, the usual high energy hippie stuff. Seemed overdone to me, and I fast forwarded a lot. Freedom without a context or purpose is overrated. As Mr Kristofferson pointed out, freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose. Sorry, I guess I'm a tough audience, but you need to do more than jump around in flower beds to entertain me. Been there, seen that, done that.

Second, there isn't much reason to like either of the lovers. Rutger has a complete lack of basic human decency, and the script goes out of its way to show you how surly and antisocial he is. Monique's character is a bimbo with no positives except her sweetness and energy. The character is as dumb as a box full of rocks, so what do they talk about? The point, I guess, is that they don't talk at all. They don't do anything except have sex and jump around, which doesn't really offer much in the way of long term potential. Frankly, I disliked them and their jumping around so much that I was hoping they would both get run over by one of those cars in Amsterdam. The only character I like in the film was Monique's gentle, loving father, and I though the relationship between Monique and her dad was the best love story in the film.

Third, the film has something of a structural flaw, in that their relationship seems to disintegrate too fast and without any warning. At one point they are having their usual fun, dancing and jumping around in the rain, when Monique gets invited to a party. She goes, and when Rutger joins her later, he spies her kissing another guy. Huh? Where did that come from? Two hours earlier they were still jumping around like newlyweds. Then Rutger spoils the party by puking on everyone, and their relationship is over. Wow. That was fast. Three hours from newlywed bliss to "game over". When Monique talks about it, there were good reasons for them to split up, but we don't ever see that developing in the story. It is merely told to us in expository dialogue. From our viewpoint, before hearing the dialogue, we saw a perfect love affair disintegrate in a couple hours.

Fourth, the satire is pretty weak. Except for the father, Monique's family and their friends are broadly drawn caricatures.

Fifth, I hated the constant elevator music in the background. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.66:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • The usual bios, and a trailer

On the other hand:

The sex and nudity are excellent, especially by the standards of 1973, adding to the other elements to make this the perfect anti-establishment, anti-bourgeois, hippie movie. It's exactly what we thought was happening in Amsterdam during the Vietnam era, and exactly what we all wished we were doing. If there was a taboo existing at the time, this film broke it. There is masturbation, graphic nudity, and lengthy discussion of excrement in both sexual and non-sexual situations.

The symbolism added a rich texture to the film. Even while they were together, the film was punctuated by images of decay. The flowers that he placed on her naked body turned out to be full of creepy crawly things, symbolizing how surface beauty can disguise rotting insides. In this case, that worked as a symbol for both their relationship and her body, both of which appeared healthy, but were decaying inside.

In the final analysis, I feel about the same feelings toward this film that I feel toward Spike Lee's Bamboozled. The satire was too broad, and the film could have benefited from a healthy dose of subtlety. 

I do recommend it as a historical document. Once the torch had been passed from San Francisco, Amsterdam stood as the ultimate symbol of the free thinking, anti-war, anti-bourgeois, counter culture of the late 60's and early 70's. This is your chance to see those attitudes first hand,  portrayed by a source from that very time and place, as opposed to a recreation made in our era.

The Critics Vote

  • Apollo 72/100

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.2, but Apollo users only 40/100.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, I would score this a C+, meaning that I think you'll like if if you just love "up the establishment" films, and/or if you just want to study the attitudes of the hippie era, but suggest you avoid it otherwise. Tuna would obviously score it higher, and recommends it to crossover audiences as well.

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