Kurdistan Bloggers Union Turtles can fly - Kurdistan Bloggers Union

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Thursday, February 03, 2005 

Turtles can fly

Yesterday, I was at a press projection of Bahman Ghobadi's last movie. Since his first full-lenght film, A Time for Drunken Horses, how this cineast has made progress ! For his first movie was not bad at all, but with quite a melodrama aspect, showing so kind and so nice tearful children, that they lack a bit of psychological depht and shades, like Children of Heaven of Majid Majidi. But with Marroned in Iraq, Bahman Ghobadi raised himself to a very very good Kurdish cineast's level. As I wrote as this time, if his first movie could have showed the life of any Iranian children, if we take apart the specific question of borders and black trade. But the secund movie, melting tragedy and comedy, was very funny with subtles representations of Kurdish peasant's society and pathetic scenes, shooting with a brutal and straight objectivity, like a documentary (mass-graves, diseases of chemical arms). And these mixed laughs and tears, opposite to our Western cinema who separates tragedy and comedy. Here, at the contrary, we have in a same time the whole gamut of feelings, following one another or superimposing themselves. I remember what told Louis-Ferdinand Céline about the superiority of Shakespeare'es theater, comparing with our French classics : "- Do you think that Shakespeare is greater than our classics, Racine, for example ? - Yes, I do, yes... For there is fun in it, isn't there ? and the others haven't it... He has got laughter, and that is huge... And when you have got both tragedy and laughter, you have won, haven't you ? ... But the others, well !... are a bit dull.. [...] Here, we pass from clownish things to tragic one's but with trueness inside, all the same... It is more complete... it holds on better... It's holds on and lasts... There's fun."

Well, this ability to be never entirely sad nor entirely happy, in any case never during a long time, is deeply and typically Kurdish, and that makes so attractive their stories, real or fictions.

Kek Satellite

Moreover, we met again characters which we have already met in Marooned in Iraq, playing by the same actors. And like in Pagnol's movie, it put us immediately in a familiar position with these people that we know and did not forget, which only go through quick scenes : the teacher, the doctor, and this hilarious vision of old sheikhs in a village, sitting around TV, a stick in their hand, waiting for the news, but to which everybody must hide the "forbidden channels" aka sexy Westerner programs...

Bahman Ghobadi loves the people he films, and then loves his actors, because among which most of them are non-professionnal, and so play their own life. His eyes on Kurds is full of tenderness, we laugh of their failings without anger. Hilarious is one of the first scenes, when at the top of a hill, covered with aerials, hundreds of villagers try to adjust their TV reception, in a cacophonia of instructions shouting by the rest of families, staying in the valley, front of the sets.

Bahman Ghobadi is also awfully skillfull to film Kurdish children as they are, glorifying them but without a false idealistic vision. The gang of quarrelsome kids reminds the boisterous adults in Marooned in Iraq. Little S,êrko seems to be Tigibus' brother in The War of the Buttons, trying to understand and to learn each English words telling by his leader, Kek Satellite...."

... but if The War of the Buttons was indeed a childish war, here weapons are real, and the mines collecting by kids against UN money (with a subtle irony it is said that American mines are the most valuable, as so prestigious as their country, when people wait for war with impatience) - these mines mutilate : the number of children lacking of one or two limbs is incredible. No matter, the armless Hingaw is working with his mouth, others hobble and gallop with their crutches, full of energy in spite of their infirmity... Does not it write that Turtles can fly ? "You send to me only handless kids" protests a adult, asking a team of young bomb disposal experts to Kek Satellite. "Precisely, these are not afraid by mines !" answers the boy. Thus, wounded bodies are exhibited and film without insistance but with a realistic and naturalist vision. In A Time for Drunken Horses, the ill and infirm child was the knot of drama. Here, it is only a part of the background, for the point of the tragedy is elsewhere, in unseeing wounds, silent moans, and Ghobadi seems to prove that for a child, a mutilated soul is the worst, the incurable wound .

Young Agrin's tragedy, abused by Iraqi soldiers and rejecting her baby, at the contray of her elder brother, Hingaw, who loves the child, is slightly exposed with a great depht, a restrained subtleness of feelings. No judgement, no subjectivity is given by camera. We look at the story of three children, with the three points of view, without partiality, getting down until the level of a 2 years baby's eyes, while the present is cut by flashes of war memories, from the past and the future, more terrible and more violent than TV broadcast.

When Americans arrive, everything break up, the camp of refugees is dismantled, everybody come back to towns, running after a new dream, a peace built on dollars, "pere-pere" or "money-money" as an hymn for the new era. Only stay on the side of the road, turning away from liberating soldiers and tanks, the most injured, the most matured children, who have grown too much by trying to protect the weakest, and those who decided to not grow anymore.

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