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Saturday, March 8, 2014

LAKPOSHTHAPARVAZ MIKONAND / TURTLES CAN FLY (2003)

This moving wartime tale from Bahman Ghobadi tracks the disrupted lives of an army of young kids, many orphaned, many walking-wounded, who scavenge up a life near the Iraq/Turkey border by gleaning the fields for land-mines. They’re lead by a tough 13-yr-old wiseguy nicknamed Satellite (for his talent at bringing in tv signals) who sells & barters the salvaged weapons when he’s not maintaining territorial rights. One rival, an armless boy with his own group, earns easy protection because Satellite falls for his lovely young sister and also because he has a mysterious ability to predict the future. Ghobadi gets some miraculous work out of his amateur cast (some of the sidekicks are unforgettable), but the film runs out of narrative steam about halfway in. Perhaps we can’t help but bring too much hindsight to a film made before post-war tragedy overwhelmed Iraq, or maybe the problem stems from a dropped secondary storyline involving a border-hopping doctor trying to find that forecasting boy. As it stands, Ghobadi has little choice but to tease out the next tragic moment and hope that the allegorical aspects of children fighting territorial wars comes thru.

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