It is one of those poetic wonders of cinema that often it’s the smaller canvases that do the best to explore life’s bigger questions – questions that force the audience to keep thinking well after the credits have finished rolling. Takva: A Man’s Fear of God can arguably be hailed as a film that packs that kind of cerebral punch. It came galloping out of the arthouse stable of Turkish cinema in 2006 (which has witnessed something of a renaissance since the late 1990s, adopting a minimalistic, visually precise aesthetic). In the year of its release, Takva won the critics’ plaudits at home, sweeping up the prizes at Antalya’s national film awards, and in the following year it caught the attention of foreign critics and, propelled by the shower of superlatives, picked up much-coveted gongs at international film festivals in Berlin, Toronto, Geneva and Sarajevo. Now it is available on DVD.

Takva offers a bleak character study of a lowly, devout man whose previously unflinching moral compass is set spinning when the Islamic sect to which he belongs plucks him from virtual anonymity and gives him an administrative post in its fiscal affairs. The new job casts him outside his safe environment (a vestige of an Old World tradition and puritanism) and opens his pious eyes to the realities of modern-day living. What should have been a blessed role in fact becomes a noose which slowly tightens around his religious values, and threatens to take away the very breath that has fostered his faith throughout his life. In a nutshell, it could be argued that Takva is perhaps an ‘inverted’ take on the story of the Prophet Job (Ayuub in the Qur’an). Like Job, Takva’s chief protagonist is taken on a journey of relentless adversity and whose faith faces a brutal test at every turn.

Takva: A Man’s Fear of God directed by Özer Kiziltan, screenplay by
Önder Çakar.Produced by Yeni Sinemacilar, Córazon International and Dorje FilmIn Turkish, 2006.

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