The Enemy: Bi-Cultural Interpretations

Last night E and I watched “The Enemy”, which is supposed to be an outstanding film, but which booth of us found baffling from start to finish. As I’d a identically read a spoiler before, the “twist” at the end wasn’t as WTF as the rest of the movie. The eerie, tension-building music that only made sense because quite normal scenes were shot in greyscale or through a dirty brown filter. The overblown reactions of characters to seemingly small things. The entire pace of the movie. But regardless of how good or convincing we found the movie, it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. So, after viewing, E and I turned to the Internets, Turkish and English respectively.
The English-speaking Internets (actually, every site I looked at was American in origin, so the American Internets) all focused on the unresolved nature of the movie – it wasn’t supposed to totally make sense, it was open to interpretation. The actresses commented that it was centered around fear of female intimacy, and desires and one’s fear of pursuing them. Other writers hypothesized that it was really about the protagonist discovering that he lives in a totalitarian state, where no one is allowed to be an ‘individual’ (somewhat in the vein of ‘The Matrix’). Some people said that the spiders were body-snatchers (or that Anthony was a body-snatcher – whatever “body-snatcher” means). In other words, ideas were all over the place, but mostly focused on the ideas of intimacy (the soft psychological side) and menacing-but-unseen totalitarian state (the conspiracy-theory side).
Turkish reviews were completely different, and E reported that most of them contained one of two theories that was absolutely invisible in the American reports: either Adam/Anthony was a bi-polar single person who has been living a double life and later comes to grip with this (a bit like ‘Shutter Island’); and the spider represents the female, his overbearing mother, and the wife who’s pregnancy will wrap him in webs, tie his life down, constrain him (with it being attempted escape from this constriction that triggered the split life in the first place). Each interpretation makes sense in its own cultural context – America with it’s newfound obsession over discussing sexuality and intimacy, paired with an equal penchant for government conspiracy theories (born during the Cold War?); Turkey with its strong family culture. I’m not sure the director intended any of the aforementioned interpretations; what’s interesting rather is what they say about the cultural mentality that decided to read them into, graft them onto the movie.


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