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Pehlivan 1964

  • Maurice Pialat
  • January 1, 1964
  • 13 mins
  • French
  • Documentary
Pehlivan focuses on a three-day wrestling competition, an ancient tradition that dates back over a thousand years to the time of the Ottoman Empire, originating in the games the soldiers would play to entertain themselves in between battles. Maybe that's why there's more than a hint of homoeroticism in the way the wrestlers oil themselves up with grease, making sure to cover every inch of their bodies so that their opponents will be unable to get a grip. Pialat's closeups emphasize the men's muscular bodies jammed together and sliding off one another, posed in intimate, twisted arrangements, struggling desperately for a grip on each other's bodies. Arms are jammed down pants, one of the only places there's some potential for a handhold, and the whole thing is very suggestive and sensual, a form of intimate male contact that's sanctioned as a show of strength and masculinity.

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