Turtles Can Fly

Critics Consensus

Set in Iraq after the fall of Saddam, Turtles Can Fly is being hailed as extraordinary, moving, and lyrical.



Reviews Counted: 73

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,764


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4.2/5

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Movie Info

Turtles Can Fly, written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi (Marooned in Iraq, A Time for Drunken Horses) takes place in the days leading up to America's second war against Iraq, in a small village and refugee camp on the border of Iraq and Turkey. Soran Ebrahim stars as Satellite, a boy nicknamed for his obsession with technology. Satellite is also obsessed with the United States, and sprinkles bits of English throughout his speech. His strong personality and his resourcefulness have made him a leader among the younger children in the village. He even convinces the village elders to trade in their radios and purchase a satellite dish so they can watch news broadcasts on the upcoming war. Tension mounts as the village waits to hear when the U.S. will invade. For his part, Satellite finds himself smitten with an orphan girl, Agrin (Avaz Latif), who wanders into the refugee camp with her armless older brother, Henkov (Hirsh Feyssal), and a little boy who is nearly blind. Henkov earns a meager living clearing minefields, like Satellite, so Satellite sees him, at first, as a rival. But his earnest desire to help Agrin eventually extends to her family. Satellite and his friends find moments of joy amid the chaos and destruction, but Agrin seems haunted by past events too painful to reconcile, and her brother Henkov derives no pleasure from his seeming ability to predict the future. Turtles Can Fly was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 2005 as a part of the Film Comment Selects series.

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Critic Reviews for Turtles Can Fly

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (25)

Despite its fanciful title, Turtles Can Fly leads viewers into a slough of despond, one in which not just hope is strangled but virtually any possibility for simple human kindness.

Sep 26, 2005 | Full Review…

Riveting, depressing and eye-opening, Turtles Can Fly is a movie about an Iraq that the news hasn't shown us.

Jun 24, 2005 | Rating: 5/5

A lyrical and heartbreaking reminder of the human toll of war.

May 13, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/4

A story that renders into poetry the sad facts of survival for child victims of war.

Apr 22, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

relentless, bleakly funny, thoroughly remarkable drama

Apr 22, 2005 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

You'll see more accomplished films, but you won't see many that have more heartbreaking impact.

Apr 22, 2005 | Rating: B+

Audience Reviews for Turtles Can Fly

A movie of the lost. Circumstances place some of us in the most hellish of places simply by the random lot of being born in particular countries. In this case, we are in the no man's land of Kurdistan and we know the Americans are about to invade Iraq right through the region from Turkey. In an information society, these are people without the very basic information. Where will the threat come from and when?

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Best film I have seen in a long time, Involves the boarder of Iraq, Iran and Turkey\, where homeless children are trying to survive. One Young man is the head of everything, he wheels and deals in everything. These children get paid for digging land mines. A very interesting film that all should see. Nothing less then 5 stars.

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer


An interesting story about Iraqi kids living in a refugee camp on the border of Turkey anticipating the Iraq War and hoping for the fall of Sadaam. The kid actors are actually refugees and improvised a lot of scenes, so it is neat and effective. The story itself can be depressing, but it is well made and shows a different side of a conflict.

Aaron Neuwirth
Aaron Neuwirth

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"Turtles Can Fly" starts out in a Kurdish refugee camp on the border of Iraq and Turkey, just before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. One kid nicknamed Satellite, for his technical proficiency, is about the only youngster not only fully intact but also wearing glasses and riding a bicycle. He is helping to install television antennae, so village elders can watch news of the impending invasion but not any prohibited channels. Eventually, they get around to installing a satellite dish.(All that trouble just to watch the Fox New Channel!) Satellite also keeps the other children of the camp employed in the ever so risky business of mine sweeping. Along comes a child with no arms but with the apparent ability to predict the future.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"Turtles Can Fly" is perfectly good when it sticks to the absurdism of the situation and the powerful realism of the tragic children but it derails when it slips into mysticism. Overall, this is a fair movie but it misses the mark of making a greater statement. [/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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