On October 6, 1970 while boarding an international flight out of Istanbul Airport, American Billy Hayes is caught attempting to smuggle 2 kilos of hashish out of the country, the drugs strapped to his body. He is told that he will be released if he cooperates with the authorities in identifying the person who actually sold him the hash. Billy's troubles really begin when after that assistance, he makes a run for it and is recaptured. He is initially sentenced to just over four years for possession, with no time for the more harsh crime of smuggling. The prison environment is inhospitable in every sense, with a sadistic prison guard named Hamidou ruling the prison, he who relishes the mental and physical torture he inflicts on the prisoners for whatever reason. Told to trust no one, Billy does befriend a few of the other inmates, namely fellow American Jimmy Booth (in for stealing two candlesticks from a mosque), a Swede named Erich, and one of the senior prisoners having already ... Written by
Director Alan Parker never officially apologized for the gross misrepresentations and the anti-Turkish tendency in his film, but he said at a 2003 Berlinale press conference, that he would do things "differently" today. See more »
Muslim prayer is depicted incorrectly. Muslim prayer has definite steps and rules, and there's always a leader to the prayer when more than two are praying. See more »
[Susan makes her way through a line at an airline checkpoint]
Excuse me... Excuse me... Excuse me... Excuse me.
[she reaches Billy in line]
Geez, I hate flying.
It's something I ate. I think I've been poisoned.
Or you're just excited about getting home.
No, I think it's the baklavas.
[...] See more »
Midnight Express can be compared to the likes of Mississippi Burning, Schindler's List and Midnight Cowboy - people who see it love it or hate it - no in between and it inspires a great deal of conversation. I have never met anyone who has seen this film and does not carry a strong opinion of it one way or another.
I love it. I do not consider it a depiction of Turkish life or an accurate retelling of the whole truth. In fact, the truth of the William Hays story is deeply lost in this picture. I consider Midnight Express to be a primarily fictional prison drama, bases largely on real events. The bottom line is that it is a great film.
Politically, I am quite conservative and have a "don't do the crime if you can't do the time" attitude. I had very little sympathy for William Hays in this movie, a young American caught smuggling hash out of Turkey and imprisoned in an absolute hell-hole. Instead, I am fascinated by his adaptation to prison life, the politics among prisoners and officials, the relationship with Brad's family and lawyers and all the other aspects of the films.
The film is very gross, quite violent and filmed in a dark, depressing. atmospheric manner. It is not for the faint of heart or anyone looking for a pleasant experience.
If you are a Randy Quaid fan then Midnight Express is a must see. So much of Randy Quaid's fame arises from the ludicrous Vacation movies and Independence Day, his true talent is unappreciated. See this (an The Last Detail) if you are a Randy fan.
There is a completely unnecessary and inane scene in which the lead character delivers a speech in a Turkish court - cut this scene short and you have a perfect movie.
Midnight Express is controversial and though-provoking. I cannot guarantee that you will like it, but I can guarantee that it will make you think.
**** out of ****
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