TURTLES CAN FLY
Directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Ms. Hen was wary of this film at first. She thought she wouldn’t like it. She thought it would be one of those films that are badly and cheaply made. She was so wrong.
TURTLES CAN FLY is a film about Kurdish refugees in Iraq and Iran right before the American invasion. Satellite, who is called that for his enthusiasm about satellites, is one of the teenagers in charge of the children, helping them get jobs, and making sure they’re okay. He convinces the village to buy a satellite so they can watch the news of the Americans arriving. He speaks a few words of English, the old men demand him to translate what George Bush is saying. Satellite’s speaks very little English, so of course, he cannot translate.
The children of the village work digging up mines and various odd jobs. Satellite works as their type of agent, he sells the mines and he tells the boys where there are jobs. A boy with no arms, Hengov, starts a fight with Satellite and they are rivals after that. Satellite heard that the boy with no arms can predict the future and he gets Hengov to tell him what is going to happen.
Hengov has a sister, Agrin, who Satellite starts to like. Satellite tells her he’s always wanted a girl like her, but she isn’t interested in him or anyone else. She carries around a blind baby, and later in the film the audience finds out that he is not Agrin’s brother but her son that was the result of her being raped by an invading army in her village.
This film is a rare masterpiece about a different part of the world where atrocities are taking place of which the people of the West are not quite fully aware. The children run around like animals, and they are barely in school; they have to learn to shoot guns to protect themselves. The parents are not around, or they’re dead, and nobody cares for the children.
Satellite leads the boys in a type of LORD OF THE FLIES in a Kurdish village, every child running rampant and everyone out for themselves. They have to try to make it in the world in a way that American and other Westerners will never have to know.
The tragic aspect of this film is that the actors are actual refugees. They do a brilliant job of portraying the life that they already know. It made Ms. Hen wonder where all these actors are now, if they’ve moved on to other acting jobs, or if they’re still refugees. The actor who played Satellite has done other films, but a lot of the others have not.
Ms. Hen didn’t cry at the end of this film, but she cringed. It hurt her to think that there are terrible parts of the world where these things happen, and it brings her down to think that most people that she knows will never be able to comprehend such horror. The refugees live with the constant fear of losing limbs due to a mine, and the despair of war. The film portrays the atrocities in a sensitive way, and we learn from it. Ms. Hen loved this film, even though it upset her. She likes to have her eyes opened, and this film opened them wide.