Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Turtles Can Fly- Movie review

Turtles Can Fly was next on the list. A disturbing film that absorbs you completely because of the sheer danger of every moment that the protagonists live in. Real life situations that draw them, claim them and prove that fiction can never ever reach the heights of the drama tat real life can take one to. Directed by Kurdish Iranian film maker Bahman Ghobadi, this was the first film to be made in Iraq after Saddam's fall. The movie begins in the most dramatic of beginnings as a young girl leaps to her death from a cliff.

The film is set in a refugee camp of Kurds on the border of Iraq and Turkey and takes off a few days before the American attack on Iraq. The people have no access to any news and they are desperate to somehow get news of war. Enter Satellite, an adolescent who is very perceptive and manipulative and has great entrepreneurial skills. Named so because he sees an opportunity in the lack of information and starts setting up satellite dishes for each village for a tidy sum, Satellite has an army of hungry children of the village and the refugee camp who work for him. Their job - mainly to pick up land mines left behind by the Italians, Americans - a job which costs many of them their arms and legs. Satellite uses the mines as currency to buy satellite dishes and other weapons for their survival. He is assisted by two of his trusty lieutenants, a boy with one leg and another who is perpetually crying.

In between his busy schedule, Satellite also has eyes for a teenaged refugee girl Agrin who goes around with her brother Hengov, a boy who has lost both his arms and also has the powers of clairvoyance and a child who everyone believes the siblings have adopted. Satellite tries to impress the girl, fights with her brother over leadership but end sup listening to the young boys prophecies. In time it is revealed that the girl does not want the boy because he is borne out of a rape - she has been raped by Kurdish soldiers. When she leaves the boy in a minefield to die Satellite shows his heroic side as he saves the boy, at the cost of his own leg. His army of kids sympathises with him on the same night when the Saddam regime fell - his second in command actually gifts him an arm of a Saddam statue as a parting gift - he is going off to town.

But Agrin is determined to get rid of the boy and she does, drowning the little child in a lake before she jumps off the cliff. Her brother sees the vision, goes to the lake and finds the child's body, goes to the cliff and finds the girl's sandals on the edge of the cliff. As the movie comes to an end one can see the American tanks rolling into the town and a formerly USA crazed Satellite turning away from them in disillusionment.

Turtles can Fly keeps you at the edge of the seat. There is no need to say anything, no need to think anything as we watch the horror of the world we have created for the future, for our children. The children mostly maimed and orphaned and hungry live in an environment where death is but one false step away and life is a gift given every moment. Heroism is as real as the boy going into a minefield to save a child who is not related to him, love is the boy diving deep into a haunted lake that is doomed with the deaths of many unfortunates because the girl wants a red fish, anguish is the girl leaving her child in the middle of a minefield even as he cries for her, danger is in every step the kids take and in the armless boy taking out a mine with his mouth, camaraderie is Satellite taking the armless boy and the young kid to a faraway doctor on his bicycle. This is a movie that haunts you for a long time after you have watched it. And as in any great story, there is again no recourse to unnecessary music or shocking visual effects. You feel, nay taste, the pain, the danger, the disgust as you watch the movie which is told simply. If you have not watched it - do.


Asr said...

Man you are on a film watching marathon. I envy you.

Harimohan said...

Yes. Good fun. Got a few more to go by the end of the week.