Smuggling Hendrix (2018) Movie review – Comical intelligence

‘Smuggling Hendrix’ is a film from Cyprus. Though it deals with a lighter subject in hand, it makes us rethink the madness of our current political system. Although the film doesn’t need you to know about the prevailing situation in Cyprus, it would be a bonus for those to know. So, let’s start with some history here.

The History of Cyprus

Cyprus – The name would ring back flooding memories to the history buffs. The story dates back to the early 19th century when the Cypriots demanded freedom from the then ruling government of British. From then on, the disputes and the tensions have multiplied many times. Currently, the island is divided into two parts.

The Turkish Cypriots occupy one side of the island while the Greece Cypriots occupy the other side of the island. The current state of the dispute has been in place for 46 years now. The pact signed in 1974 divided the island into two. It gave the northern part of Cyprus to the Turks and the southern part of the island to the Greeks. The island keeps functioning the same way until now.

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Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus island, plays a key role in the film ‘ Smuggling Hendrix’

Unlike the Berlin wall, there is no complete blockade between the northern and southern parts of the island. People from the North can move to the South and vice versa. In 2003, the North-South checkpoint was opened.

People who cross the borders will be checked thoroughly on either side. They are free to move around both parts of the island. Certain places on the isle are marked as the buffer zone. But there are certain rules to follow while crossing the borders through the buffer zone.

Smuggling Hendrix – The drama unfolds

Yiannis

‘Smuggling Hendrix’ tells about Yiannis, a musician from Cyprus, is about to leave his country. He is headed to Netherland, wherein he is to search for a much better life. Divorced and troubled by the loan goons, he has decided to leave his country. As the film begins, he is to leave the island in 3 days.

However, things go out of hand when his dear one runs away from him. As he roams about the city before leaving, he sees the loan goons waiting at his house for his arrival. As he tries to move away from their viewpoint, he enters a shop that hides him from them.

The first conflict

He lives in the divided capital of Nicosia. The first big conflict of the story takes place here. His beloved dog, Jimi, runs away from the shop. As he manages to escape from the goons and start his search for the dog, he completely runs out of his sight.

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Jimi runs away from Yiannis and crosses the border

After a few runarounds, he doubts if his dog has crossed into the Turkish side of the capital. He reaches out to one of the soldiers on guard and requests him to check if his dog had indeed passed to the other side. The soldier gets to the security viewpoint and calls over to a soldier the other side of the capital. He confirms seeing a dog of this description running around.

The dog chase

Yiannis requests that the soldier keep Jimi with him so that he would come and get him right away. He gets his seal at the checkpoint and crosses the border. He walks along the Turkish roads and reaches the junction where the other soldier is. Jimi wags his tail on seeing him. He gets back his dog, thanks to the Turkish Cypriots, and starts to walk on his way back.

The trouble with the Law

As he walks past the checkpoint, he is called back by the commander in charge. After verifying his identity, he suggests him to turn back. Surprised and confused, Yianni asks for the reason. According to European laws, pet animals are not allowed to cross the borders. So his dog cannot enter the Greek side of Nicosia.

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The walls depicting the hatred of the people against the wall

Taken aback, he tries in vain to explain to the soldier that his dog passed the border just a few minutes back. And he also informs him that he is a resident of Southern Nicosia, and hence he is returning home with his dog. But the soldier is firm. Of course, he cannot violate the laws. He stands firm on his decision.

Turning back

Yiannis now has no other option rather than turning back. He has to think fast and act soon. With his ticket to Netherland waiting, he doesn’t have enough time. He tries to come up with a plan. He and his dog sleep the night in an old abandoned house. The next day Yiannis comes up with a plan. After all, good sleep can indeed make us think a lot better.

Yiannis was born on the Turkish side of the island. His parents owned a house there. However, they had to move to the Greek side of the island after the pact made in 1974. He remembers his home and its location clearly. He decides to visit the house and look for something or someone who might help him.

Yiannis and Hasan

After the division, the Turks occupied the houses left over by the Greek Cypriots. As he searches and finds his home, he gets a cold shoulder from Hasan, the new resident of his house. As he argues that the house actually belongs to him, Hasan gets angry. It ends up in a heated conversation.

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Yiannis (right) and Hasan – The unexpected partners in this journey

Finally, Yiannis convinces Hasan that he can live peacefully in this house if he helps him take his dog back to his place. Reluctantly, Hasan agrees. He suggests they meet the local don who is great in smuggling animals from the North to the South. They meet the smuggler. Yiannis tells him the tale again. He agrees to smuggle the dog to the other side for a hefty amount.

Problem solved?

All is set for the return of Jimi. Yiannis gives his dog to the smuggler and returns to his home. That night, he waits near the checkpoint. What is good when things happen as per the plan? The smuggler gets caught while trying to cross the border. He escapes from the military. But they take hold of the dog.

This incident paves the way for the next act. With his only hope now lost, Yiannis has to look for another way. He decides to meet his ex-wife and ask her to help him. The dog was, after all, her gift to him. On hearing that he had lost Jimi, she becomes furious. After calming down, she decides to help him. She wanted Jimi back in any case.

All set for the journey?

Yiannis, his wife, the smuggler, and Hasan then set out on a journey to the North of Cyprus on a mission to bring Jimi back. The journey is filled with many hurdles and difficulties. But did they find Jimi? Did they bring him back?

Cyprus

Northern Cyprus Southern Cyprus

Throughout the ‘Smuggling Hendrix’ movie, the Cyprian issues are portrayed in a satirical manner. The extent to which the division has changed the lives of people on either side is drastic. Even the air pillows that Yiannis buys in Northern Cyprus have the Turkish representation on them. The funny fights between Yiannis and Hasan, in reality, explains the explosion of the pain hidden under for years.

Though the movie has nothing to do in terms projecting the hard-hitting truths of the division on its people, it implies its harshness whichever places possible. That said, the movie seldom takes things in a serious tone, and hence no sort of preaching essays are present.

Jimi Hendrix, the dog

But the climax of ‘Smuggling Hendrix’ proves that there are always simple solutions to problems that we manifest ourselves. Sadly, we fail to understand their importance. Sometimes, non-humans like Jimi can teach us a very valuable lesson for us. Jimi just shows that a simple answer can suffice a never-ending question.

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The real hero of ‘Smuggling Hendrix’ – He gives a simple lesson to crossing the borders

Conclusion

Smuggling Hendrix‘ was released in the year 2018. The movie won many appreciations in the various film festivals where it was played. It was highly appreciated for portraying a massive problem with such a light-hearted treatment. And that truth, sadly, would never reach the ears of the politicians who draft the rules.



Smuggling Hendrix poster



This review of ‘Smuggling Hendrix’ is dedicated to all the struggles of the Cypriots in memory of the 46th anniversary of the Cyprus division on July 20, 2020

Watch the trailer of ‘Smuggling Hendrix’
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