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Anchor Bay presents
Turkish Delight (Turks Fruit) (1973)

Eric: Is that real?
Olga: What, you think it's a wig? They used to call me 'little lampshade'.
Eric: And the rest?
Olga: What rest?

- Rutger Hauer, Monique van de Ven

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: May 31, 2001

Stars: Rutger Hauer, Monique van de Ven
Other Stars: Tonny Huurdeman, Wim van den Brink, Hans Boskamp, Dolf de Vries, Manfred de Graaf, Dick Scheffer, Marjol Flore, Bert Dijkstra, Bert André, Jon Bluming, Paul Brandenburg, Suze Broks, David Conyers
Director: Paul Verhoeven

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Nudity, explicit sexuality, violence and more)
Run Time: 01h:48m:02s
Release Date: April 24, 2001
UPC: 013131125290
Genre: late night

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B C+B+B+ C+

DVD Review

Before he made his name in Hollywood with features such as Robocop, Basic Instinct and Total Recall, Dutch born Paul Verhoeven cut his teeth in his home land directing a number of films Anchor Bay will be releasing under The Paul Verhoeven Collection banner, and in its first wave we have The Fourth Man, Soldier Of Orange and this film, his second, Turks Fruit (Turkish Delight). Verhoeven is not much for subtlety, and his films have brought criticism for their use of extreme violence and sexual explicitness. In response, Verhoeven suggests that his films mirror life rather than influence it, and he draws upon the experiences of himself and his friends for inspiration. Turkish Delight was the first of many Verhoeven films to employ Rutger Hauer, whom the director had worked with on the Dutch TV series Floris. It was also his third collaboration with cinematographer Jan de Bont who (besides a major list of cinematographer credits), would later go on to direct the Speed series, Twister and The Haunting—and marry actress Monique van de Ven after meeting her on this shoot. The film is based on a popular autobiography by Jan Wolkers, which is required reading in Dutch education, and though some of the main character's traits were changed for the screenplay, they ended up more accurately reflecting the truth than was at first realized.

The film opens with Eric Vonk (Rutger Hauer) bludgeoning a man to death before putting a bullet between the eyes of a young woman. We then sweep across Eric's room, where he lies half naked, with these imaginings still fresh in his mind. He leafs through a box of photographs of the same woman, naked, and pinning one of them against his wall, he proceeds to masturbate. The next ten minutes of the film witness Eric seducing and having sex with a number of women, though his manners would leave something to be desired, especially his collecting of "souvenirs." One of these women comments on his box of photos, and is promptly expelled to the street, sans clothing, but as he about to embark on another romp, the silhouette of one of his statues brings back a reminisence that stops him in his tracks.

We next flash back two years, when, after being expelled from an artistic expedition, Eric is picked up while hitchhiking by a young red-haired girl (Monique van de Ven as Olga Staples). After a bit of a zipper incident following their lovemaking in the front seat, they get in a car wreck, and Eric has to drag the unconscious Olga to the curb side for help.

After rejected attempts to contact Olga by phone, Eric charges into her parent's business looking for her. Her mother is adamant that Olga will not be getting mixed up with an artist, but the two end up married, though even their honeymoon is overshadowed by constant interruptions, which are a precursor to what lies ahead. In an interesting structuring, we are brought back to present, halfway through the movie, and the latter section carries on from where the film started. The tone of the last section is vastly different from that of the beginning, almost seeming like another film. It is a tale of love and loss, of ecstacy and despair, and while there is a fair degree of erotic content, it is tempered with extreme doses of reality and fantasy.

It is clear that this film wouldn't be playing on national television in America. It is interesting to note from Verhoeven's commentary track just how different North American culture is from that of Europe, and specifically Holland, where Turkish Delight was voted the most popular Dutch film of all time, based primarily on it frequent appearances on TV. The amount of casual nudity and sexuality, combined with graphic depictions of violence, feces, vomit and many other scenes that western audiences are sure to find challenging, are presented in a matter-of-fact style. De Bont's influence came in the form of the suggestion to forego traditional staging techniques, and adopting a highly freeform style of shooting, predominantly hand-held. There is definitely a sense of immediacy conveyed as the viewing angle shoots around from subject to subject, and the lack of any storyboarding and preference for early takes with little rehearsal captures raw and spontaneously natural performances. Certainly not for the prudish or squeamish, Turkish Delight is certainly an interesting exhibition, especially in light of the director's later, more commercial work.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: A natural looking transfer, on the slightly soft side. Grain levels vary with the shot, but are well-rendered. Colors are not overly saturated, and black levels are held well. Print defects are nowhere to be found. I don't think I could expect much more from this one.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The Dutch soundtrack is clear with no signs of distortion. There is a bit of hiss at times, but nothing too distracting. For the age of the film, it sounds fine, though isn't quite as transparent as a modern recording could be.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Production Notes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Paul Verhoeven
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Still gallery
  2. Production essay
  3. Poster replica
Extras Review: Anchor Bay has done this film proud with a nice collection of extras, highlighted by Paul Verhoeven's commentary for the feature. I'm sure he could have provided two tracks given the opportunity, as he is never at a loss for words, detailing elements from the production, trivia, and some interesting observations on Dutch culture and how different it is from that of North America. He is obviously proud of this work, and has no qualms about some of the more...shall we say...challenging images he captures.

A stills gallery containing 32 images is also present, along with substantial talent files for Verhoeven, Hauer, and van de Ven, running 24 to 32 screens each, and featuring behind the scenes shots, along with poster art for some of Verhoeven's other films. An essay on the film and director is cleverly hidden on the flip side of the cover insert. A re-release poster replica backs the chapter listings on the insert card.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

While the story is interesting, even I had difficulty with some of the content in this one (that's not an easy feat, believe me). Turkish Delight assaults the senses with raw sexuality, and graphic depictions of some rather unsavory subject matter. Rutger Hauer and Monique van de Ven give excellent performances under the direction of Paul Verhoeven, and Jan de Bont's free use of the camera adds to the very relaxed and natural feel of the film. Certainly not recommended for everyone, but for those who can stomach the handful of unpleasant scenes, this is certainly memorable.


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