Revolution #158, March 8, 2009


Turtles Can Fly

Turtles Can Fly is a film by Bahman Ghobadi available on DVD. Ghobadi is the same director who gave us another thought provoking film in A Time for Drunken Horses.

Turtles Can Fly is a wonderful, riveting and deeply moving story.

It takes place on the Turkish-Iraqi border on the eve on the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. The Kurdish children are the main characters—their personalities, their very, very dangerous work and play.

Everyone is trying to get news of the impending U.S. invasion. At the same time people do not know but are struggling to understand “what is the U.S.A.?”

The main character is this 14 year old kid everyone calls Satellite (played by Soran Ebrahim). He’s the eyes and ears of all the villagers in this area, the eyes and ears to the world outside of their village—the eyes and ears to the invasion. He is the one that everyone relies on to understand what they should do when the U.S. invades.

Through his interactions with some of the children who have directly experienced the horrors of war at the hands of Saddam Hussein’s army—through the life threatening work they all must do to live and give cohesion to their lives—he slowly begins to get a clearer understanding of what the U.S. invasion will mean…then it occurs.

Satellite is one of the few real actors in the film. The movie is all the stronger because the cast of hundreds are the people themselves. In watching this you immediately identify with these children. Their lives, their story, their humor and their humanity—in the midst of a situation truly not fit for children and other living things.

Satellite’s name is a metaphor for the story. He has the skills that he picked up from his father, he is able to install an antenna and is technically savvy. The story unfolds through him and three orphans he meets from another village, especially Agrin—a little girl who captures your attention from the very opening scene—her standing on the edge of a cliff, taking off and leaving her shoes behind—and then you learn all that led up to that precipice.

This movie is a must see.

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