The film begins with direct simplicity: Isa, a walk-on actor in movie productions, is blamed for a $50 robbery. He is threatened, beaten and harangued. Back at his tiny apartment, this desperate man is threatened yet again by his landlord. From here, the story unreels, expanding to include Isa’s abused neighbor, the housewife Meryem, her husband, the film crew, and the landlord’s son.
While Isa is being beaten for the theft, his persecutor latches the door, but it opens again—a crack in the facade of authority. Far more important is the use of doors that swing open and shut in the hallway outside Isa’s apartment. The primary theme of the film is his relationship with his neighbor Meryem. They have many of their discussions in this small space bordered by a stairwell and two doors. It is illuminated with an economical time switch that turns off after some thirty seconds. These blackouts are important for Demirkubuz’s compression of time because they act as built-in fades between shots that are sometimes retrospectively revealed to be different sequences. And the opening of the doors themselves function as metaphors for the personalities of the apartment building’s occupants.
The narrative of this film is a series of revelations. This writer does not wish to spoil the discovery of these developments that resemble a story by Dostoyevski, so I will treat some more general issues.
A secondary narrative in the film is Isa’s participation in the making of melodramatic television programs. We see the programs being taped and hear the off-camera reading of scripts for subsequent post-synchronization. When, halfway through the story, Isa and Meryem have their longest encounter, we see it as if in one of the television melodramas—Meryem is sobbing and anguished, speaking with hardly any breaks, and the words of her monolog are out of synch with her lip movements. In the midst of this are visible editing cuts—as if Demirkubuz is again inviting us to regard his film in terms of the staged television programs. (Near the end of The Third Page one of these melodramas is playing in the background, as if a commentary on The Third Page itself.)
This is not to say that the film is superficial. We are engaged by the plight of Isa and Meryem. When she cries out that her husband and the landlord are “both despicable wretches” this is not just rhetoric. The pain and impossible choices that confront her are compelling. Isa too is caught between wrenching alternatives. The Third Page propels us forward into a region of darkness and desperation.
by Robert A. Haller, Five Films by Zeki Demirkubuz, 2003