Follow TV Tropes


Film / Turkish Delight

Go To

Turkish Delight (Turks Fruit in the original Dutch title of the novel and film) is a 1973 film directed by Paul Verhoeven, based on the similarly-titled novel by Dutch author Jan Wolkers. The story is a cross between an Erotic Film and a tragicomic Romantic Comedy. The film is notorious for featuring a lot of sex and nudity, just like in the novel. It became an international box office success and it was Verhoeven's breakthrough film that launched his career in the Netherlands and those of lead actors Rutger Hauer and Monique van de Ven.

On the surface Turkish Delight appears to be nothing more than an Erotic Film, but there's in fact a strong and tragic love story going on. Graphic artist and sculptor Eric (Rutger Hauer) falls in love with the young and naïve Olga (Monique van de Ven) with whom he has several sex scenes. They have a close mental and physical connection and eventually marry. Yet Eric is a stubborn and sometimes impulsive and aggressive man who doesn't really get along with Olga's snobbish mother, who disapproves of Eric's poverty.


Turkish Delight is seen as one of the most important Dutch films of all time and was voted to be the "Best Dutch film ever" during a 1999 Dutch poll by the Netherlands Film Festival. In 1973 it was nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Foreign Language Film", but lost to Day for Night by François Truffaut.

Turkish tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • In the book, it's made really clear just how much of an abusive mother and wife Olga's mother has been / still is; how much mutual hatred there is between Eric and Olga's mother / his mother-in-law; and how well Eric, in contrast, did get along with Olga's father / his father-in-law. Because this is mostly left out of the film, the scene at Olga's father's funeral where Eric imagines Olga's father singing along the Radetzky March on his own coffin, can easily come across as played for laughs, or as an Acid Sequence - while in reality, it's really tragic, as the point of it is, that Olga's mother arranges a funeral service for Olga's father that is not true at to the person he was, but is entirely modeled after what Olga's mother herself wants.
    • Advertisement:
    • In the book, a major plot point is how Olga's mother had had breast cancer, and undergone a breast amputation, during Olga's youth, which had instilled a phobia for cancer in Olga. This background is left out in the movie. Consequently, a scene early in the movie where Olga totally freaks out screaming "I have cancer!" when seeing she has red poop, and then discovering it is just due to having eaten beets instead of cancer, comes across as played for laughs (and doesn't become harsher in hindsight until she gets a brain tumor at the end of the movie). Knowing the background of the character, and her real fear of cancer, explains a lot about this scene and makes it much harsher.
    • Also left out of the movie, as noted under "STD Immunity" below, is any reference to birth control. In the book, in addition to a phobia for cancer she had a phobia for pregnancy, and avoiding pregnancy was a big point in her and Eric's relationship, thus this matter was addressed.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Virtually every young woman Eric meets falls for him and agrees to have sex with him, despite being quite blunt and rude when asking them to do so.
  • Auto Erotica: Eric and Olga first make love in her car.
  • Character Signature Song: Olga's father enjoys singing along with Strauss' "Radetsky March", only adding the words "Tits & Ass" to the refrain.
  • Color Motif: Eric remarkably often wears orange clothes in the movie, and the drapes in his apartment are orange too.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Eric loves Olga obsessively.
  • Cult Soundtrack: The mouth harmonica soundtrack by Belgian jazz musician Toots Thielemans has become iconic.
  • Downer Ending: Olga dies of a tumor. The end.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Eric gets right to the point when he asks women to go to bed with him.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Even when Olga is terminally ill, lost all her hair and is mentally unstable (screaming, kicking) Eric still visits her in the hospital.
  • Erotic Film: Despite some full frontal nudity and sensual sex scenes "Turkish Delight" is not a vulgar porn film, as many viewers seem to expect. It's a very romantic and tragic love story.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Olga wears her hair loose in most of the film, during experiencing her True Love affair with Eric. When she first meets Eric again after leaving him, she, contrastingly, wears it tightly bound up in a bun - which coincides with her leaving him and having an affair with another man. Later she runs into him again, and this time she has dyed her naturally dark-blonde hair, strawberry blonde - something Eric points out, and this coincides with them (and the viewer) discovering she has a brain tumor.
  • Fanservice: The film has a lot of hot sex scenes. Both Olga and Eric are really good looking.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: Not on the poster picture as seen above this TvTropes page, but on the DVD cover: the two main characters' heads are really floating and tacked-onto the background.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": In an Imagine Spot Eric suddenly sees his diseased father in law singing and laughing along to the tune of the "Radetsky March" on top of his coffin while it is lowered into the ground.
  • Groin Attack: Eric has sex with Olga in her car, then gets his foreskin stuck between his zipper. They go to a farmer and Olga borrows some pliers to cut the zipper open.
  • Ill Girl: The female protagonist gets terminally ill and dies at the end. This is what is most famously known about the book / movie, even though it actually doesn't happen until the very end, and the vast majority of the book / movie are about the love story.
  • Interrupted Intimacy:
    • Eric and Olga's wedding night is interrupted several times by her falling asleep early and people bringing them mail, flowers and presents in the early morning.
    • Later when they are separated and Eric visits her at her mother's home, they are in the midst of having sex when her mother walks in on them.
  • Love at First Sight: Eric hitchhikes along with Olga. Within minutes of meeting they decided to have sex in the car.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: The character of Eric (actor: Rutger Hauer) is shown a few times totally naked.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Olga's brain malfunctions in the hospital and she is never quite the same again. Despite visiting her in the hospital Eric does not get a chance to say goodbye to her because she is mentally unable to understand him.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws:
    • A Played for Drama, or even Played for Horror, example: Eric's mother-in-law / Olga's mother. She hates Eric (ostensibly, because Eric isn't rich enough to her tastes; but the real reason (especially in the book, where it's more explicit than in the film) is, she doesn't allow Olga any happiness, or to be loved, out of envy), and is actively trying to destroy Eric & Olga's marriage - ultimately, successfully note .
    • Inverted for Eric's father-in-law / Olga's fater, who Eric gets along with very well and has lots of fun with (more clearly in the book than in the film), and who also treats Olga much better than her mother.
  • Oral Fixation: Olga still thumb-sucks to go to sleep.
  • Romantic Rain: The most iconic image of this film shows Eric and Olga sitting on the sidewalk during heavy rainfall, while drinking wine.
  • Shown Their Work: At about 31 minutes into the film, a scene takes place that happens around dawn in a city in the Western part of the Netherlands. Anyone who really lives there, can attest that the bird sounds featured in this scene (most prominently, the Eurasian Blackbird singing), are exactly as they happen in real-life.
  • STD Immunity: Despite Eric being somewhat of a womanizer and having unprotected sex with Olga multiple times no STD's or accidental pregnancies are mentioned.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Eric's impulsive behavior burns a lot of bridges.
  • Truth in Television: Olga, at a certain point in her up until then happy marriage with Eric, suddenly starts acting weird, erratic and out-of-person - which leads up to Olga separating from Eric. At the end, she turns out to have a brain tumor - and in Real Life, brain tumors are known, if they are located in the frontal lobe, to affect a person's personality and behavior before giving the person physical complaints. The location of the operation scar on Olga's head as shown in the movie, indicates her tumor was located in the frontal lobe - by Fridge Logic totally explaining her strange behavior.

Alternative Title(s): Turkish Fruit, Turks Fruit


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: