Turtles Can Fly, Bahman Ghobadi (2005) - Essay Example

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The movie is set one week before the US-Iraq war in a Kurdish Refugee Camp on the Turkish-Iraqi border. One of the main characters of the movie is Satellite…
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Turtles Can Fly, Bahman Ghobadi (2005)
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Visual Arts and Film Studies By Due Turtles Can Fly depicts the life and hardships of a group of children who are looking to survive in extreme circumstances. The movie is set one week before the US-Iraq war in a Kurdish Refugee Camp on the Turkish-Iraqi border. One of the main characters of the movie is Satellite who leads the group of children assigning them various tasks some of which are very dangerous e.g. picking mines in a mine field. Satellite looks at USA with hope as he is curious to see Saddam Hussein fall. He likes to use English words and phrases in his language due to which the rest of the people think that he can translate the English news for them. The mines that are made in America are the best mines according to him. Ironically, he gets injured by an American mine later in the movie.
Turtles Can Fly makes use of imagery beautifully through which the audience can easily see the horrid state of the refugees and be thankful that it is not out there itself. For instance, in a long-shot, it appears as if there is a cattle grazing in the field but the close-up reveals that those are children picking up mines. This is almost like the life of those children is being compared to that of animals thus revealing the sad state in which the children are. The children do very dangerous work and their state is pitiable. Yet, they are able to enjoy the trivial things and events that they come across while being in the refugee camp. In one scene, Pashow, who has a broken leg, taunts a Turkish guard on the border and is not worried that he is putting his life into danger while doing that.
A very important point is that the movie is closely related to the US-Iraq war but there is no bias or a tilt towards any side by any of the characters. The children in the movie are too busy in survival to have an opinion on the war. This gives the audience a very important message that many of those who are directly involved in the circumstances created by the war are largely unconcerned with victory or loss. They just look to get their own lives in order. This message can also be seen in the shot of a turtle which is thrown into water by the blind child but it is shown like it is flying. This indicates freedom and happiness. The war is revealed to the audience in visions of Henkov. This shows that the real war happens in the background and the focus is on its casualties. The red fish are used as a metaphor serving as a trophy which gives Satellite a sense of accomplishment. He dives in the lake to look for red fish but never finds any. He gets a few from Shirko only to learn later that they were fakes.
When Henkov has a vision that makes him realize that Agrin has killed the child by drowning it, he runs towards the lake and on his way he sees Agrin thrice in such positions which indicate that she is jumping. Normally, it makes little sense for her to jump from the top of a bunker. However, by that time, the audience is familiar with the fact Henkov has premonitions. Agrin is shown committing suicide at the very beginning of the movie which makes it safe to assume that actually Henkov is watching Agrin jump from the top of a cliff.
At the end of the movie, Satellite stands and looks at the Americans passing by who once threw leaflets at the refugees indicating that they were their friends and were there to help them. By the end of the movie, Satellite has been through great sorrow his last hope is getting helped by the Americans but they march on paying no attention to the refugees who are looking at them for help. In the whole movie, no other character has been as excited and expecting of the Americans as Satellite. He seems to have been dreaming of what would happen when the Americans arrive. He has a picture of the west in his mind which has been drawn by putting together the images that has seen on the television through the satellite. When the “red fish” that Satellite has received from Shirko start to lose color, it becomes obvious that everything he has said about Americans is a lie. In the final scene, that lie becomes clearer to Satellite. He has been injured by an American mine and he watches the Americans marching on without bringing any change in his life as he continues to be a helpless refugee despite their arrival. The images of his mind have shattered and he is heart-broken due to Agrin and her son’s death. Therefore, he starts moving towards the camps knowing that he is on his own and no one is there to help.
Turtles Can Fly. Dir. Bahman Ghobadi. Perf. Soran Embrahim, Hirsh Feyssal, and Avaz Latif. BAC Films. 2004. DVD. Read More
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