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Worth A Look: 18%
Average: 2%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4%

1 review, 44 user ratings

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Turtles Can Fly
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by EricDSnider

"It will change your views on Iraq, no matter what they are."
4 stars

Regardless of your position on the American effort in Iraq, "Turtles Can Fly" might change your mind. It shows the wretched, deprived existence of many Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, suggesting his ouster was imperative by whatever means necessary. Yet the arrival of the Americans is no magic elixir, either. The film doesn't care about politics. It cares about the day-to-day lives of the Iraqis and Kurds, whose opinion of the war probably varies depending on whether they currently have a roof over their heads and all their body parts.

The film, written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi, is set in the weeks preceding the U.S. war on Iraq in early 2003, in a little village on the Turkish border. The people here are mostly refugees, living in tents and huts, and there are numerous orphaned children roaming around as well. They are led by Soran (Soran Ebrahim), a gawky, bespectacled lad of maybe 12 years who goes by the nickname Satellite and who governs his band of lost children like a cross between Peter Pan and Donald Trump. Each day the kids go to work in the fields, carefully removing the land mines and turning them in to Satellite, who sells them to arms dealers and merchants. The money is used to support himself and the children he cares for. Satellite even helps the village buy a satellite dish so they can see the news and get some hint of when the war is coming.

With his Western clothes and fondness for the English language, Satellite is the go-to kid in this ramshackle town. You need rope? He'll get some rope for you. You need a translation of what the CNN anchor is saying? He'll make up something plausible.

His attention is drawn, as is ours, to a trio of children recently arrived in the camp. Hengov's (Hiresh Feysal Rahman) arms were blown off by land mines and he has an odd ability to predict the future. His sister, Agrin (Avaz Latif), sad-faced and solemn, carries a child around with her, little Riga (Abdol Rahman Karim), no more than 3 years old. Hengov loves the cross-eyed tyke, but Agrin seems to resent him. We suspect he is not their brother but Agrin's son, the product of a rape when their home village was marauded.

The adults are peripheral; the movie is about the children, who are forced to act like adults. And as is nearly always the case in movies about children who act like adults, there comes a time when events become so overwhelming that the kids revert to their natural inclinations. Satellite can only be the leader of his children, barking instructions to them like a strong-willed district manager, for so long before it catches up with him. When he does finally break down and sob, the film reaches its emotional zenith. We realize how pitiful the situation is, how hopeless and desperate life has become for these people. No matter what we thought about Iraq, now we see things a little differently.

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originally posted: 05/27/05 15:36:19
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival. For more in the 2005 San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/07/15 Ameer B idiot film 1 stars
9/15/08 cum great, loved it, portrays children as adults, very unique storytelling 5 stars
12/12/06 Kell This movie makes an impact on your life. It is unforgetable. 5 stars
7/31/06 John Totally realistic movie, absolutly brilliant 5 stars
11/21/05 erin zampariolo loved it 5 stars
11/13/05 Karen Terrific. So, So sad. 5 stars
10/20/05 Bunny A supremely intelligent film. 5 stars
10/10/05 mama snail Cross "The Crow" with "Our Gang comedy". The subtitles were an easyread never distracting 5 stars
10/10/05 lola the bitter truth but i object about the way turks are portrayed! 3 stars
10/09/05 Leyla This shows the truth about war and its horrible effect on everyone. 5 stars
8/18/05 green gremlin Are you watching this, Dubya ?!? 5 stars
8/12/05 LPaigeG Compelling. Evocative. Beautiful imagery. Amazing acting. Memorable characters. 5 stars
8/11/05 ILAN great movie. if it isnt 5 stars, i dont know what 5 star is...bring your tissues 5 stars
8/07/05 Ilana Peled For the future of our children - everyone has to see this film 5 stars
7/21/05 Jeremy Callman There seems to be no exaggeration, its real. 5 stars
6/12/05 Charles Disturbing, but a must see! 5 stars
6/02/05 Stephanie Thoughtful, disturbing, and beautiful. 5 stars
5/31/05 Connie Shawn a very moving moview about humanity & Kurdistan 5 stars
5/29/05 Bakhtiar Dargali Superb movie..the story of the Kurdistan tragedy ... 5 stars
5/26/05 Linda Wonderful, should be seen by everyone. 5 stars
3/08/05 Rev. Glenn A truly fantastic film. Unforgetable. Great. 5 stars
1/30/05 Carrie Hubbard Not quite AWESOME, but very good :) 4 stars
12/06/04 Dana Abbas wonderfull 5 stars
11/19/04 Medya excelent ! I really recommend you to see it 5 stars
11/14/04 kaveh setaayesh it sorrowfuly shows a truth, of truthes that we simply ignore them all, every day 5 stars
11/05/04 Ashley Cole most important film I've ever seen. 5 stars
11/03/04 Choi IH sorrowful... 4 stars
10/31/04 Ali Everybody has to watch it 5 stars
10/28/04 soran an excellent film in which all the characteristics off good films can be found 5 stars
10/23/04 Anne Bergen-Aurand Devestating, but an excellent film. The kids are amazing. 5 stars
10/22/04 kaveh GOOD 5 stars
10/16/04 yassin excellent! 5 stars
10/02/04 Johnny Majeli Incredible story, highly recommended 5 stars
9/28/04 Ana Awesome 5 stars
9/27/04 Saman One of the best movie I have seen, the other best movies are alos done by Bahman Ghobai 5 stars
9/25/04 Andrea incredible!!!!!!!!!everybody must watch it 4 stars
9/20/04 Joanne Huber Powerful, a specific story that is still universal. 5 stars
9/19/04 Rozha As Kurd I love this film 5 stars
9/15/04 Alan powerful, very moving, the other side of 9/11 5 stars
9/15/04 Bell Amazing film. Gives you a whole new perspective on life. Must see! 5 stars
9/15/04 Beth I saw this film at the Toronto film festival and I loved it... 5 stars
9/15/04 setareh ammazing 5 stars
9/13/04 Film Fest Fanatic Incredible-everyone must see!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
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  DVD: 20-Sep-2005



Directed by
  Bahman Ghobadi

Written by
  Bahman Ghobadi


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