What do you consider international cinema? Do you think of historical dramas, Bollywood musicals, Korean thrillers, French New Wave? International films were often held in high regard just because there’s a certain level of sophistication a movie must reach before it breaks into the American mainstream.
Then, streaming changed everything. Now the only thing standing between an American viewer and a seemingly endless amount of global media is a Netflix subscription.
Finding a new international movie to watch can be daunting, especially if you’re in the mood for a comedy. But fortunately, you don’t need to dig too deep into Netflix’s expansive catalog. We found a classic international smash hit tailor-made for sci-fi fans. Here’s why it’s worth adding G.O.R.A. to your Netflix watchlist.
G.O.R.A. is a 2004 Turkish sci-fi spoof of a space opera film directed by Ömer Faruk Sorak. From the start, it acknowledges that it looks a lot different than other sci-fi blockbusters. In the opening scene, various spaceship crews yell out status updates and orders — laced with profanity — before one character asks in Turkish, “Why are we all speaking English? Let’s just speak in Turkish.”
So for the rest of the movie, that’s what they do, and there’s never any question about why aliens happen to speak the 13th most popular language on Earth.
The film follows sleazy used carpet salesman Arif as he’s spontaneously beamed up to a spaceship from the planet G.O.R.A. From there, Arif meets a reggae and sci-fi-obsessed fellow prisoner, a bald droid, and, most importantly, the evil security officer who staged the abductions.
Over the next two hours, what follows is a fast-paced tour of all sorts of sci-fi franchises, from the much-beloved (The Matrix and Star Wars) to the slightly more obscure (The Fifth Element and Battlefield Earth), all handled with the nuance and care of a Scary Movie knockoff. This movie is ripped whole cloth from the playbook of Mel Brooks.
Some jokes don’t play well either because of a cultural difference or just the changing times. (Arif calls a random African American character “Cosby Show,” for example.) If it weren’t for the language barrier, G.O.R.A. would be an instant classic entrance into the satirical film canon, right next to Airplane! and Spaceballs.
G.O.R.A. was a massive hit in Turkey, and it’s easy to see why. What it’s not easy to see is how it hasn’t made the jump to mainstream success, especially in a world where Parasite and Squid Game can be international hits. If you’re looking for a rollicking love letter to sci-fi with some irreverent moments, spend a night trying on another country’s blockbusters for size.
G.O.R.A. is now streaming on Netflix.