Mini-Review: Turtles Can Fly (2004)

Turtles Can Fly [Lakposhtha parvaz mikonand] (2004)

Starring Soran Ebrahim, Avaz Latif, Hiresh Feysal Rahman

Directed by Bahman Ghobadi


This is a good film, more for its power to stay with you, instead of its level of entertainment. It’s the eve of America’s invasion of Iraq and Kurdish refugees struggle with their television antennas to hear some small bits of news. Three wandering children; a girl, a possibly clairvoyant teenage boy with no arms and a blind toddler come to the camp in search of refuge. The film really isn’t about the plot though. Director Bahman Ghobadi seeks to paint a picture of what these villagers feel and endure on the brink of war.

It moves at a slow pace, but this is a haunting film, filled with amazing, wide-angle cinematography of the Iraqi landscape. All of the children (who aren’t trained actors) are outstanding and show a level of depth not generally present in child actors. The film ends on a perfect, understated note, skillfully illustrating disillusionment and the fragility of life. It is a tragedy and an emotionally heavy film.

Recommended if you’re in right mood.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K7Zx7RBON4

8 comments to Mini-Review: Turtles Can Fly (2004)

  • sounds good but harrowing. Will wait till I am in the right mood.

  • I shouldn’t be such a coward. Films like this are telling stories that should be told.

    • ‘Tis true. This is definitely a side of the Iraqi experience I had never seen before and very enlightening. The film stays with me as well, it’s been almost two months and I can’t get some of the images out of my head.

      • and that’s why I am a coward about these ‘tough’ films – harrowing scenes adhere to the inside of my head and I worry about them for weeks after I see the film! I need to be a bit more ‘zen’ about it all and not so ripe for attachment to these things

  • The trauma of war has been an issue much covered in cinema, but in this film, we are shown the impact that it has on those who are most innocent of all- the children. War from an innocent perspective; yet not a dark comedy- this film has a lot to offer. This also reveals another aspect of this film- the adults in the film are shown as the scared lot. They are always shown hiding, squeaking in their houses; following orthodox practices. It leaves you in a land where war can be smelled, where destruction is not a new addition to the inhabitant’s menu. The adults being dormant, while the kids are enthusiastic is totally justified.

    Prior to this, Schindler’s List, Life is Beautiful and a selected handful unforgettable films had also fearlessly covered this nightmarish, inhumane aspect of war. This film hits hard enough to be called a masterpiece. After these 1 hr 37 minutes of brainwash, I stared blankly at the screen for fifteen minutes, amidst a state of pure, and surprisingly prolonged, emotional helplessness. I felt like loosing something… I felt the pain of lost innocence.

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