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Film / G.O.R.A.

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G.O.R.A. (Commercialized in English as G.O.R.A.: A Space Movie) is a 2004 Turkish Science Fiction farcical comedy film directed by Ömer Faruk Sorak and starring/written by stand-up comedian Cem Yılmaz.

A used carpet salesman and con artist, Arif Işık (Cem Yılmaz) gets abducted by extraterrestrials from Planet G.O.R.A., whose military led by the mischievous Commander Logar (also Cem Yılmaz) regularly snatches humans for forced labor. Stuck light-years away where no Turk has gone before and determined to escape from captivity, Arif sets out on a formulaic journey involving eccentric characters, destroying a doomsday device, learning martial arts and rescuing a runaway princess from an arranged marriage, all while sticking to a Turkish diet of sucuk and raki.

Most likely the first Turkish science-fiction film with a budget, G.O.R.A. extensively uses computer-generated imagery, with production values meant to impress both at home and abroad. Inspired by Mel Brooks ' filmography and Yılmaz's own stand-up comedy routines, the script draws elements from numerous Western science-fiction works such as Star Trek, Star Wars as well as the more recent The Fifth Element and The Matrix, mashing them with Turkish mannerisms and tropes from recent and older works of Turkish cinema, without omitting numerous visual and running gags, considerable profanity and dubious humor.

A groundbreaking financial success on release following a troubled production phase, G.O.R.A. was followed by two sequels starring Yılmaz as Arif Işık, A.R.O.G. (2008) and Arif V. 216 (2018), both centered around accidental time travel to prehistory and The '60s' Turkey respectively.

G.O.R.A. provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alien Abduction: Arif is transported into the alien ship by two androids disguised as an English couple interested in his used carpets. These abductions are regularly carried out by Planet G.O.R.A's own Military Imports Unit, with the Big Bad dreaming of the day the entire human race will get enslaved.
    • Besides himself and fellow inmates from his detention facility, Arif also learns that Garavel and Ceku's long-deceased father were Turkish Air Force pilots abducted in 1979.
  • Aliens Speaking Turkish: Gorans seem to speak in Turkish with no mention of Translator Microbes. Arif even lampshades it when he rants about not being able to recognize who is Turkish, non-Turkish or alien since everybody is speaking in Turkish.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The crew of Logar's ship does speak in English during the intro, albeit saying profanity-laden sentences and non-sequiturs
  • Big Bad: Commander Logar.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Unavoidable, given the movie's Turks in Space setting. Netflix's English subtitles do attempt to transcribe some of the puns with varying levels of fidelity.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After defeating the Big Bad, Arif looks at the audience and goes on a tirade against "Hollywood", telling them to stop resorting to Aliens Are Bastards and that Aliens "can be humane, too".
  • Camp Gay: 216, the Robot Buddy.
  • Cassette Futurism: Master Garavel's Neural Implanting machine, identified by Faruk as a Commodore 64, uses cassette tapes to upload specific knowledge to a user's brain through a dryer chair.
  • Creator Provincialism: Planet G.O.R.A.'s inhabitants are much more acquainted with Turkish culture than a non-Turkish viewer would expect:
    • The Princess and her android companion are avid consumers of old Turkish films and very quickly warm up to the film's Turkish protagonists.
    • G.O.R.A.'s ruler particularly enjoys Turkish delicacies, eating pişmaniye in one scene.
    • The Big Bad is seen taking a can of a Turkish orange-flavored soft drink. Doubles as Product Placement.
    • The land speeder dealer accepts Turkish liras as payment, dismissing American dollars as "something to go buy chewing-gum with".
    • G.O.R.A.'s woods feature sucuk (a spicy, dry sausage popular in Turkey as well as its neighboring regions) growing on trees as Fantastic Flora.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: Downplayed with "Bob Marley" Faruk, who sports dreadlocks and wears a T-shirt with a cannabis motif solely due to owning a reggae-themed bar in a Turkish touristic resort prior to his abduction. He shows no other kind of affiliation to rasta culture and is much less rebellious than the main protagonist is.
  • Expy: Features plenty of them, given the film's numerous reference pools:
    • The main protagonist is one to Ömer the Tourist, a recurring character of 1960s Turkish cinema which even starred in a Star Trek spoof.
    • 216 is one to C-3PO.
    • Commander Logar is one to Darth Vader, albeit without the mask and with a much more effeminate lifestyle.
    • Tihulu, a short character with a white visor covering his eyes constantly warning Logar of "incoming objects", is one to Geordi from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
    • Princess Ceku has elements from both Leia and Princess Vespa.
  • Evil Duo: Commander Logar and Kuma, his Dragon.
  • Faceless Goons: The Plekumats, intimidating Mooks with distorted voices and equipped with plate armor and masks with mirrored glasses.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Planet G.O.R.A. is best summed up as Turkey in space (see Creator Provincialism above).
  • Flashback: Used twice to establish the backstory for certain characters.
    • Commander Logar hates humans because his ancestor's First Contact with humanity in Anatolia, 1789 results in him getting chased off by an angry peasant who also violates his Robot Buddy.
    • "Bob Marley" Faruk claims he was the first Science Fiction scriptwriter in Turkish history, attempting to pitch his sci-fi script to an erotica film director on September 12, 1980. He fails when said director ends up getting arrested for owning imported cigarettes (banned in Turkey until 1984).
  • Grows on Trees: While on the run from the authorities, the protagonists camp up inside a forest of sucuk (dry, spicy sausage) trees, to the glee of Arif.
  • Ham and Deadpan Duo: Arif and "Bob Marley" Faruk could be seen as one, the latter not hesitating to cynically mock the former's awe and enthusiasm.
  • Historical In-Joke: Bob Marley Faruk's flashback takes place during the September 12, 1980 military coup in Turkey.
  • Initialism Title: The title is an unexplained acronym, despite not being used as such at any moment in the film.
  • Imperial Storm Trooper Marksmanship Academy: During the forest chase, Logar's Mooks are unable to hit the protagonists and even dismiss them as killed without confirming it.
  • Love at First Sight: Arif and Ceku, as soon as they meet before the elemental stones to stop the Doomsday planetoid like in the The Fifth Element.
  • May the Farce Be with You: One of the film's biggest reference pools and subjects of parody.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Arif Işık 's name is a Call-Back to Turkish actors Sadri Alışık and Ayhan Işık, who both starred as Ömer the Tourist, the character's main source of inspiration.
  • Mentor Archetype: Master Garavel, an enigmatic, elderly and blind character communicating through holograms who is revealed to be another abducted Turk.
  • Older Sidekick: "Bob Marley" Faruk, another Turk abducted an unspecified number of years ago by the Gorans and the prison's cook, who is initially unwilling to escape due to pessimism and his debts back on Earth.
  • Overused Running Gag: The film resorts to these, some examples being:
    • The Geordi Expy constantly telling the Big Bad of "incoming objects" and being scorned off by the latter's henchman. He ends up being invited to an off-screen threesome with both.
    • Garavel's hologram recoiling and insulting whoever touched it.
  • Precision F-Strike: Literally said verbatim by Arif before getting to a fight with a fellow American inmate for sexually harassing him.
  • Product Placement: All over the place throughout the film, a universally recognizable example being the bottle of J&B drunk by Logar at the shanty town's bar. The producers even been called out on this, to the point they had to pay a steep fine for "covert advertising" in 2006.
  • Robot Buddy: 216, Princess Ceku's mild-mannered, effeminate android confidant.
  • Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot: The introductory scene of the film, depicting Commander Logar's ship going on another mission to abduct humans.
  • Sissy Villain: Commander Logar and his acolyte.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous examples, some more explicit than others:
    • The entire scene where Arif uses the elemental stones to destroy the incoming meteor is a pastiche of The Fifth Element, Arif's (approximate) knowledge of the latter being essential for the plot.
    • Right after Arif gets unfairly thrown back to prison by Logar following the aforementioned scene, Ceku is seen watching an old Turkish film where the main character, the original inspiration for Arif, is denouncing the bad luck and unfair treatment before a judge.
    • Just like in The Matrix, Hero Protagonist becomes a superhuman warrior through Neural Implanting and extensive training.
    • Arif's Bullet Time acrobatic moves during the climax are directly lifted from The Matrix and Played for Laughs.
  • Training Montage: One for Arif after he gets his brain injected with Garavel's martial arts mixtape.
  • Turks with Troops: Surprisingly averted for the most part. While some characters are Turkish and Turkish culture is prominently featured throughout the film, the country itself is barely featured other than as a background setting. The closest example is Master Garavel mentioning he and Ceku's father were abducted Turkish Air Force pilots.
  • Wuxia: the film's final act turns into this after Arif learns martial arts.