What do you consider international cinema? Think of historical dramas, Bollywood musicals, Korean thrillers, French New Wave? International films were often highly regarded simply because there is a certain level of sophistication that a film must achieve before it breaks through 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 luckily, you don’t have to dig too deep into Netflix’s extensive catalog. We’ve found a classic international hit, tailor-made for sci-fi fans. This is why it’s worth adding GORA to your Netflix watchlist.
GORA is a 2004 Turkish sci-fi parody of a space opera film directed by Ömer Faruk Sorak. From the start, it recognizes that it looks very different from other sci-fi blockbusters. In the opening scene, several starship crews shout status updates and orders – laced with profanity – before a character asks in Turkish, “Why do we all speak English? Let’s just talk in Turkish.”
So for the rest of the movie that’s what they do, and there’s never a question as to why aliens happen to speak the 13th most popular language on Earth.
The film follows filthy, used carpet salesman Arif as he is spontaneously beamed up to a spaceship from the planet GORA. the kidnappings staged.
Over the next two hours, a quick tour of all sorts of sci-fi franchises, from the much-loved (the matrix and Star Wars) to the slightly more obscure (The fifth element and battlefield earth), all treated with the nuance and care of a Scary Movie knock off. This movie is completely ripped from Mel Brooks’ playbook.
Some jokes don’t play well, either because of a cultural difference or simply because of the changing times. (Arif calls a random African-American character “Cosby Show,” for example.) If it weren’t for the language barrier, GORA would be an instant classic entry into the satirical film canon, right next door Aeroplane! and space balls.
GORA was a huge hit in Turkey, and it’s easy to see why. What’s not easy to see is how it hasn’t made the leap to mainstream success, especially in a world where Parasite and Squid Game can be international hits. If you’re looking for a rambunctious love letter to sci-fi with some irreverent moments, spend a night trying out blockbusters from another country for custom.
GORA is streaming now on Netflix.