From acclaimed director Bahman Ghobadi (A Time for Drunken Horses) comes the first film shot in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Heart-wrenching as well as spirit-raising (The Hollywood Reporter), Turtles Can Fly... more » mixes humor and tragedy to startling effect, resulting in a very timely masterpiece (TV Guide) about children struggling to survive in an endless war zone. On the Iraqi-Turkish border, enterprising 13-year-old 'satellite (Soran Ebrahim) is the de facto leader of a Kurdish village, thanks to his ability to install satellite dishes and translate news of the pending US invasion. Organizing fellow orphans into landmine-collection teams so that they can eke out a living, heis all business until the arrival of a clairvoyant boy and his quiet, beautiful sister.« less
Leslie E. from SAINT LOUIS, MO Reviewed on 7/10/2011...
Excellent!!! The DVD I received is in English subtitles - just as a head-up - I know this is a deal breaker for some people. Incredible movie!!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Suzanne Y. from BINGHAMTON, NY Reviewed on 9/15/2009...
One of the best movcies I've ever seen. even my 23 y.o. son liked it. The "actor" kids are incredible, the story affecting, an all-around very special work.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Children as the Microcosm of the War on Iraq: An Astonishing
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Lakposhtha hâm parvaz mikonand' (TURTLES CAN FLY) takes your breath away. Not only is the story by writer/director Bahman Ghobadi timely, it is one of the most devastatingly real examinations of the people of Iraq in the days before the American preemptive attack: it is more real because the entire story is told through the eyes of children.
The action takes place in Kurdistan, Iraq at the Turkish border. The temporary refugee camp in the hills is occupied by children who make money by gathering live mines and used shells from the military conditions under Saddam Hussein's rule. They struggle to make deals for a satellite dish so that they can provide coverage of the war for the elders (they are not allowed to watch Hussein's forbidden channels!), they form rival groups for the monetary aspects of weapons gathering, and they rely on a leader by the name of Satellite (Soran Ebrahim) who appears to be the oldest of the children. His 'associates' are the crippled boy Pashow (Saddam Hossein Feysal) able to run as fast as even Satellite on a bicycle with just one leg and a crutch; Shirkooh (Ajil Zibari) whose tears flow easily; Hengov (Hiresh Feysal Rahman) who lost his arms to the land mines and has the ability to foresee the future; and the mysterious Agrin (Avaz Latif) the sole girl who with Hengov is caring for a blind two year orphan Riga (Abdol Rahman Karim).
The children, all orphans, are on the watch for war they know will come, watch and listen for the Americans to arrive, and struggle for survival under Satellite's organized control. Agrin wishes to escape it all, pleads with Hengov to return to their home, but Hengov will not leave the child Riga. As the tension mounts tragedies occur, touching all of the children. But the manner in which the children finally observe as Hussein's statue topples and as the American troops distribute 'hopeful' fliers from helicopters, events bringing an end to their temporary refuge camp status, is heart-wrenchingly portrayed.
The film is full of passion. The young 'actors' are splendid: how Ghobadi found such children to play tough parts in such a wholly naturalistic way is a true feat of genius. This is a powerful, disturbing, yet ultimately beautiful film that deserves everyone's close attention. In Kurdish with English subtitles. Highly recommended! Grady Harp, October 05 "
Trapped between Iraq and a hard (Turkish) place
Chapulina R | Tovarischi Imports, USA/RUS | 05/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On the eve of the American invasion of Iraq, Kurdish refugees wait with hope and trepidation. Hope, because they have suffered so much under Saddam, trepidation because their liberation promises little improvement. Thirteen year old "Satellite", so called for his expertise installing satellite dishes, is the boss of the refugee children. Most are orphans, many are crippled by the mines which they dig up to sell to the U.N. Life is very hard and uncertain; for sport, the boldest boys taunt the Turkish soldiers manning the border posts. Satellite genuinely cares for his "kids", but has a rivalry with the "Armless Boy," a newcomer to the camp and seemingly a psychic. However, he finds the Armless Boy's pretty sister intriguing. The girl, Agrin, is aloof and haunted by horrific memories, and is not interested in Satellite. Eventually, the US forces arrive. There is no anti-American sentiment in this film, but neither are the Americans portrayed as heroic liberators. In fact, they seem oblivious to the Kurds. The images of the tanks rumbling through the villages, the grim-faced, armed soldiers jogging past the ragged, barefoot urchins are almost surreal. The refugees' hectic life continues uninterrupted by their presence. Agrin's personal drama culminates in the horror foreshadowed at the film's start. "Turtles Can Fly" has its moments of humor but it is not a feel-good film, and the fates of the characters will leave you disturbed. I recommend this film because it is a timely portrayal of current events and an intimate look into a mostly unknown culture. The joint Iraqi-Iranian film features English subtitles.
A haunting tale of war, loss, and society's marginalized
Veggiechiliqueen | 10/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Turtles can Fly" is a drama set in Kurdistan (on the Turkey-Iraq border) shortly before the Americans invade Iraq in 2003. Satellite is the ringleader of the refugee camp's hoards of orphaned children, who earn a meager living picking live landmines out of fields. Many are missing hands, arms, or legs. At the beginning of the film, the town's villagers are trying to install ancient antennas to catch word of when the war will begin, but Satellite rightly predicts that only a satellite dish will work for picking up foreign channels. Satellite's sidekick Pashow has lost a leg to the mines, and hobbles frantically behind Satellite, trying to keep up as he barks orders to assign his "workers" to new mine fields. The children sell the mines to arms dealers, who sell them to the UN.
We soon meet Agrin and Hengov, brother and sister, who are displaced and live in the refugee camp. Their parents were murdered by the Iraqi army, and tagging along with them is their little brother Riga, who, although blind, is a very intelligent, sensitive toddler. Hengov has lost both arms to a mine, and works alone, not talking to the other village and refugee children. It is said that he has the ability to predict the future. His beautiful, haunted, suicidal sister begrudgingly cares for Riga, who she lets wander away at night. Satellite is attracted to Agrin, attempting to impress her by carrying water for her, diving into a haunted pond to look for red fish, and telling her that he's been looking for a girl like her all his life, but she just walks away, back to the misery of her tent and her lot in life.
The war eventually reaches the town, and we see American troops rumbling through, but more and more tragedy occurs to the most defenseless: the children, living in mud-soaked, filthy camps, who spend their days picking through shell casings and unexploded land mines.
The ending is stark and powerful, and director Ghobadi blends mysticism with gritty realism, the young cast all non-professional actors. His distrust of the West is portrayed in scenes that show "forbidden channels" on the satellite, music videos and such from Germany, and the inaccurate reporting from CNN. When the village elders try to force Satellite to translate, he just says "they're saying it will rain tomorrow," but later in the film, we find that he does know a bit of English and inadvertently teaches it to the other children.
This is a film full of disturbing images: violence, rape, maiming and suicide of children, so sensitive viewers beware. It is slow to start off, but is an ultimately rewarding journey of the horrors of war and the fate of the marginalized, orphaned children that war produces. "
Disturbing, yet revelatory
Rachel | PA, US | 04/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Turtles Can Fly was a joint Iraq- Iran production. The language spoken is Kurdish, but it has English subtitles. The film is set in Iraqi Kurdistan, primarily in a refugee town near the Turkish border. The story follows a boy in his early teens, Satellite, so named for his ability to set up satellite dishes, a much-wanted commoditiy in Iraq preceding the US invasion. Satellite is always wanted in the local villages; he has authority even with the elders, and is a father figure to the children (many of them orphans) and finds them work, mostly digging up mines and selling them to the UN. At the beginning of the movie, Satellite mets Agrin, a pretty but deeply troubled girl. She is accompanied by her brother, who lost both of his arms to a land mine but has the mysterious ability to see into the future. Also with them is a toddler, whose relationship to Agrin and her brother is not revealed until later. Agrin's brother, known as the 'armless boy' has been having a series of disturbing premonitions; the war is coming closer and closer. Satellite works frantically to prepare the regugee camp for the invasion. He also attempts to befriend Agrin, and in the course of the movie we discover disturbing and troubling things about this strange family's haunted past. Turtles Can Fly does not, as some expected, portray the United States in a negative light. However, it makes a very clear statement that our self-appointed position as liberators is skewed and false. Many scenes reinforce this; Satellite will be racing around after one tragedy or another, and the US tanks just roll past, indifferent. This is not a feel-good movie. It is disturbing, haunting, troubling, and heart-breaking. However, it also opens a window on a culture few people know about: Iraq under Saddam, specifically, the lives of war-torn children in pre-invasion Kurdistan. This movie gives names and faces to Iraqis, and portrays the US as children on the ground saw it. It is also frequently witty and endearing. All in all, this is an intense, eye-opening, and very alive movie. It captures war from a perspective often ignored, and gives breath to the population we hear so much about on the news. It handles the children's lives in a restrained and sometimes slightly surreal manner, but turns a far-seeing, sweeping eye on the surrounding area, and the great tides of conflict that shaped and changed a region."
Lay the agendas aside for a moment and just watch.
Joel Munyon | Joliet, Illinois - the poohole of America. | 05/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"We often try to romanticize war. Sometimes we select the other side of the coin and do our best to remove ourselves from it altogether. 'Turtles Can Fly' doesn't allow us to pick either option. In it, we see war through the eyes of the innocent, and what we see is hell.
Here are some of the pictures that Bahman Ghobadi, the director of the film, paints for us: a young man without arms who has lost them doing the only trade that once afforded him - picking up landmines; a beautiful pre-teen who's been a victim of rape from a group of ravenous soldiers; a blind infant who's hope is placed in the fate of two teenaged strangers. These are the characters who allow us to see the war as they see it, and the picture is not nice, sweet, or glorious. The result is a feeling that will leave you detesting war more than ever, regardless of your political or personal views on any war the world has been engaged in. Those walls built by pro or anti agendas will begin to fall, and you will lose yourself as you too attempt to emotionally climb out of the experience you've just been a part of.
An eye-opening experience that I would recommend to anyone who is mature enough to stomach it.