The Taliban are ruling Afghanistan, they being a repressive regime especially for women, who, among other things, are not allowed to work. This situation is especially difficult for one ... See full summary »
Mohammad Arif Herati
During World War II, 12-year old Ivan works as a spy on the eastern front. The small Ivan can cross the German lines unnoticed to collect information. Three Soviet officers try to take care... See full summary »
Itinerant Kurdish teachers, carrying blackboards on their backs, look for students in the hills and villages of Iran, near the Iraqi border during the Iran-Iraq war. Said falls in with a ... See full summary »
Fugui and Jiazhen endure tumultuous events in China as their personal fortunes move from wealthy landownership to peasantry. Addicted to gambling, Fugui loses everything. In the years that ... See full summary »
The circularity of violence seen in a story that circles on itself. In Macedonia, during war in Bosnia, Christians hunt an ethnic Albanian girl who may have murdered one of their own. A ... See full summary »
Set in Ghobadi's native Kurdistan, close to the Turkey-Iran border. Soran is a 13-year-old boy who orders other children around as he installs an antenna for villagers keen to hear of Saddam's fall. Eventually, he falls for Agrin but is disturbed by her brother Henkov, who was left armless after he stepped on a landmine and who can now seemingly predict the future. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
"Turtles Can Fly," the haunting new film from Iranian writer/director Bahman Ghobadi ("A Time for Drunken Horses"), begins with an arrestingly beautiful image: A young woman (Avaz Latif), resolute in her manner, stands barefoot on a rocky ledge, contemplating a leap that will surely end in death. The landscape is gray and forbidding; the light is cold; the tone ominous. Then the camera comes closer to the actress' face, wreathed in tangled brown hair, and we realize, with a start, that she is a child.
Ghobadi's film is a story of wounded children, a devastating reminder of the costs of war. It's set in an Iraqi village near the Turkish border, in early 2003, as the villagers await news of an American invasion. As they try to set up a satellite dish, a key player emerges: a boy known as Satellite (Soran Ebrahim), with Coke-bottle glasses and a pushy, ever-yelling confidence. He's the expert in this operation, in the way that kids worldwide seem to know more about technology than their elders, and he's also the ringleader of the village children, who follow him like loyal acolytes.
Satellite, in his bulldozer way, soon catches the eye of Agrin, the girl we saw in the opening scene, and he's dazzled by her, gazing at her with Mooney eyes. "I've been looking for a girl like you," he tells her. She, orphaned by war, takes care of her two brothers one is armless, maimed by a land mine; the other is a toddler and ignores Satellite. There's an air of quiet tragedy about her, the reason for which is explained late in the film, in a scene so wrenching it's almost unbearable to watch.
The performances in the film all by nonprofessional actors vary in quality. Ebrahim has some touching moments as Satellite but rarely varies his voice from a shout; it suits the character's almost corporate like personality but eventually becomes wearying. But Latif, as the tragic Agrin, makes the most of her few lines; she's calm, astonishingly beautiful and skilled enough to let us see the heavy weight on this grown-up child's shoulders.
Ghobadi and director of photography Shahriar Assadi linger on the vast landscape, with its bleak fields and desolate, branch less trees, and create some beautiful effects with shadows. (In one shot, the hills glow under a night-blue sky as the tiny shadow figure of a child appears between them.) And the director's eye for heartbreaking detail is keen. In this harsh, desperate world, a child cries, with no hands to wipe away his tears. Others stare at the camera, looking far older than they should, as if seeking the end of a nightmare.
35 of 42 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?