by Paola Cesarini
"Anadolu Kartalları" is instead a movie about the camaraderie of five cadets, who thrive because of their mutually supportive environment. Clearly inspired by the 1986 American movie "Top Gun", the 2011 Turkish film "Anadolu Kartalları" (Anatolian Eagles) narrates the dreams and struggles of five young cadet pilots. Commissioned for the centenary of the Turkish Air Force, and largely filmed on the Konya Air Base, "Anadolu Kartalları" contains spectacular aerial scenes performed by the Türk Yıldızları and Solo Türk acrobatic teams. Both movies celebrate their respective country's air force, but diverge substantially for the rest. More specifically, each reflects a different historical context and emphasizes different themes. "Top Gun" is first and foremost a movie about an individual (Pete Mitchell "Maverick"), his competitive drive, his bravado and his ability to overcome obstacles and adversity.
Second, in contrast with "Top Gun", which was primarily a story about manly men, "Anadolu Kartalları" features a female as the most successful Turkish Air Force pilot-in-training. And finally, while "Top Gun's" spectacular aerial chases echo Cold War tensions, "Anadolu Kartalları's" simulated dogfights take place during an international military exercise involving countries from four different continents.
"Top Gun" earned a definitive place in US popular culture. It is however unlikely that "Anadolu Kartalları" will achieve the same in Turkey. Indeed, nowadays the film is chiefly known for being Çağatay Ulusoy's first cinematic role. Still, the two movies offer a very interesting contrast. While "Top Gun" is unmistakably an American cold-war flick, whose story could hardly make sense in a different national and historical context, "Anadolu Kartalları's" script may be replicated in a myriad of other countries, because it is first and foremost a celebration of camaraderie among fellow soldiers. The casting of the two movies also reflects the different ideological approaches. "Top Gun" features a group of unrealistically buff and extremely cocky US Navy pilots. On the other hand (and with the notable exception of a very young and attractive Çağatay Ulusoy,) "Anadolu Kartalları's" Turkish Air Force cadets are much more realistic looking and down to earth. While by no means memorable, "Anadolu Kartallari is still worth watching for those interested in comparative cinematic analysis and/or military-themed films that dispense with heavy violence. It will also delight all of Çağatay Ulusoy's die-hard fans.