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Turtles Can Fly (2004)

Cast: Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne, Soran Ebrahim, more...
Director: Bahman Ghobadi, Bahman Ghobadi
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: MGM
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Middle East, Iran
Running Time: 97 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, French
    see additional details...

Turtles Can Fly, written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi (Marooned in Iraq, A Time for Drunken Horses) takes place in the days leading up to America's second war against Iraq, in a small village and refugee camp on the border of Iraq and Turkey. Soran Ebrahim stars as Satellite, a boy nicknamed for his obsession with technology. Satellite is also obsessed with the United States, and sprinkles bits of English throughout his speech. His strong personality and his resourcefulness have made him a leader among the younger children in the village. He even convinces the village elders to trade in their radios and purchase a satellite dish so they can watch news broadcasts on the upcoming war. Tension mounts as the village waits to hear when the U.S. will invade. For his part, Satellite finds himself smitten with an orphan girl, Agrin (Avaz Latif), who wanders into the refugee camp with her armless older brother, Henkov (Hirsh Feyssal), and a little boy who is nearly blind. Henkov earns a meager living clearing minefields, like Satellite, so Satellite sees him, at first, as a rival. But his earnest desire to help Agrin eventually extends to her family. Satellite and his friends find moments of joy amid the chaos and destruction, but Agrin seems haunted by past events too painful to reconcile, and her brother Henkov derives no pleasure from his seeming ability to predict the future. Turtles Can Fly was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 2005 as a part of the Film Comment Selects series. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Turtles Can Fly by JWeiss January 6, 2006 - 11:31 AM PST
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Beautiful, sad, excellent.

Should be Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Bean October 16, 2005 - 7:09 PM PDT
7 out of 7 members found this review helpful
There are no answers how some children can emerge devoted, courageous and loving after inexplicable injustice and suffering; "Turtles Can Fly" shows what that resiliency looks like. The relationships of Satellite, a resourceful boy who bargains with arms dealers, his young faithful allies, an armless psychic boy who knows when the next explosion will hit, his beautiful, mysterious sister, and their blind toddler--all intertwine with the most heartbreaking innocence in a land riddled with landmines, tanks, and shattered lives. It is the children who lead the viewer through this war torn land, who know the safest paths, and who are able follow their dreams and instincts because there is nothing else to guide or protect them. As American spectators, we may not feel comfortable watching this, but these children were forced to experience war without a choice. We owe it to them to listen, watch, and learn from them.

Difficult by talltale October 4, 2005 - 8:50 PM PDT
7 out of 8 members found this review helpful
TURTLES CAN FLY, from the writer/director of "A Time for Drunken Horses" and "Marooned in Iraq" is a difficult movie for a number of reasons. Difficult first, because it demands perhaps more of an understanding of the Kurd culture in Iraq than many American (including me) possess; difficult also because it deals with the beginning of the current Iraq war, which has proven even worse for everyone than intelligent predictions indicated; difficult finally due to its odd and not-easy-to-digest mix of the very real (land mines, atrocities) and the less-so (foretelling the future with more than a little prescience). Consequently, you may find yourself off balance much of the time.

I was alternately moved (greatly) and then perplexed by the events and characters shown here, but still taken by the beauty of the landscape, the fine cinematography and the unusual lead performances--all from children, most of whom are excellent. The film does offer some humor along with its stark and horribly sad view of a people buffeted by events over which they have little control. What control they do have leads only to greater horror, as evidenced by the lovely adolescent girl, her armless brother and her "child." Consider it penance if you must, but watch it.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.70)
56 Votes
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