Turtles Can Fly

"Excellent"

Turtles Can Fly Review


It's March 2003 in Northern Iraq, and 13-year-old orphanSoran (Soran Ebrahim) is thoroughly enjoying the sway he holds among hisneighboring cluster of Kurdish villages as the only local who knows howto acquire and install satellite dishes to bring news (which he also pretendsto translate) of the impending American invasion.

Known to everyone by the nickname "Satellite,"the boy has a curiously endearing cockiness that only partially masks thekind of youthful angst that's unavoidable for a kid with crooked teethand cockeyed glasses. He's strong-willed and industrious -- employing andsupporting the village children, whom he enjoys bossing around as they digup and dismantle land mines to sell in the underground arms market. Butultimately he's still 13 years old, which is why he becomes obsessed witha quiet, outwardly impassive, inwardly haunted orphan girl from the refugeecamp that has sprung up nearby.

The third feature by Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi ("Maroonedin Iraq," "A Time for Drunken Horses"), "Turtles CanFly" is a tragic yet bittersweet, simple yet spellbinding slice oflife's uncertainty. Set in a rugged, wind-swept desert mountain regionwhere the coming war is only the latest challenge to Kurdish fortitude,the film envelops you completely in Satellite's scrappy existence amongtent villages, mud houses, rusted-out tank wreckage and scrap-metal artilleryshells.

But even more significantly, it captures the war-tornpsyches of its young characters -- none more so than the girl Satelliteclumsily woos (Avaz Latif), who is led toward catastrophe by traumatizingflashbacks of an Iraqi attack on her village that left her emotionallyscarred, left her seemingly clairvoyant brother without arms, and saddledthem both with caring for a half-blind 3-year-old.

The ingenuous performances of these non-professional actorshave a poignant earnestness that Bahman uses to blow cold breezes of visceralmelancholy through the desolate landscape of "Turtles Can Fly."Yet at the same time the film has a humanity, humor and hope that springsfrom Satellite's small-scale entrepreneurial perseverance.

A few of the peripheral characters -- mostly other children-- don't seem to have the same knack for being unaffected before the camera,but this is an insignificant quibble. It's not like Bahman could hold auditionsfor five-line roles in this remote locale.

Regardless, "Turtles Can Fly" masterfully personifiesthe practiced endurance of the Kurdish people in the face of calamity,and brings into sharp relief a pivotal moment in history from an oft-forgottenperspective. It is an unpretentious, understated tour de force ofMiddle Eastern cinema.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 23rd February 2005

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Mij Film Co.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 63 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Satellite, as Argin, as Pashow, as Hengov, Abdol Rahman Karim as Riga, Ajil Zibari as Shirkooh

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.