Scen.: Yılmaz Güney. F.: İzzet Akay. M.: Özdemir Arıtan. Mus.: Zülfü Livaneli. Int.: Tarık Akan (Şivan), Melike Demirağ (Berivan), Tuncel Kurtiz (Hamo), Erol Demiröz (Necirvan), Levent İnanır (Silo), Yaman Okay (Abuzer), Şenel Gökkaya (peddler), Savaş Yurttaş (Sıddık), Güler Ökten (Sıddık’s wife). Prod.: Güney Film DCP. D.: 129’. Col.
Scripted and supervised by Yılmaz Güney from prison, the film depicts the tragic disintegration of a tribal family during Turkey’s turbulent transition to capitalism. The Veysikan tribe is at war with the Halilan tribe. As a token of truce to end this blood feud, Berivan, a young woman from the Halilan tribe, has been given in marriage to Şivan, a Veysikan, by her brothers. But the family vendetta will spiral once again. Hamo, the patriarch of the Veysikans and Şivan’s father, blames his daughter-in-law for all their misfortunes because she cannot bear children.
After the loss of their third child, Berivan has become mute. Disdained by his father, Şivan’s only hope is to go to a big city in order to find a job for himself and treatment for his wife. He agrees to help his father transport their flock of sheep by train to Ankara in return for some money. The meticulously-shot train journey turns into a terrible ordeal as the tribe loses a large part of the flock. But would “the beautiful Ankara be a remedy to all their troubles”, as promised by the song Şivan learned in the army?
Shot in Turkish because the public use of the Kurdish language was illegal at the time, Sürü presents a history of the Kurds, who are divided by feuds and silenced by oppressive traditions and the modern state. This epic story of the adaptation of these nomadic shepherds to capitalist society also has some universal resonance. As critic Bilge Ebiri notes, “Güney’s fable-like vision and director Ökten’s solid sense of storytelling” make this film one of Güney’s most successful works.