Published Apr 01, 2005Turtles Can Fly is a bleak yet touching look at a small community on the Turkey/Iran/Iraq border on the eve of the latest U.S. invasion. As a result of the last war, the town is almost exclusively populated by children and old folks.
At the centre of the story is a young boy named Satellite, so named for his ability to hook the remote villages in the area up with television signals so they can find out news of the impending war. Satellite also serves as the leader of a large band of children, orphans and refugees who make their living by recovering landmines from neighbouring fields and selling them to the U.N. peacekeepers in the region. A mysterious girl taking care of her armless brother and a blind toddler captures Satellite's attention and he enthusiastically begins to woo her.
The film is by turns fascinating, beautiful and horrific, set against the backdrop of this ravaged land, which hasn't nearly recovered from the horrors of the last war. The focus on a gang of parentless children with their own power structure brings to mind The Lord of the Flies, yet these kids have been through way too much to get mired in petty differences
The acting of these young people is astounding, both lively and haunting. Bahman Ghobadi's (Time for Drunken Horses) storytelling is simple and direct and his visual command is wonderful. (Seville)