It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I wish everyone who has an opinion on the war in Iraq could see "Turtles Can Fly." That would mean everyone in the White House and in Congress, and the newspaper writers, and the TV pundits, and the radio talkers, and you -- especially you, because you are reading this and they are not.
You assume the movie is a liberal attack on George W. Bush's policies. Not at all. The action takes place just before the American invasion begins, and the characters in it look forward to the invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein. Nor does the movie later betray an opinion one way or the other about the war. It is about the actual lives of refugees, who lack the luxury of opinions because they are preoccupied with staying alive in a world that has no place for them.
The movie takes place in a Kurdish refugee camp somewhere on the border between Turkey and Iraq. That means, in theory, it takes place in "Kurdistan," a homeland that exists in the minds of the Kurds, even though every other government in the area insists the Kurds are stateless. The characters in the movie are children and teenagers, all of them orphans; there are adults in the camp, but the kids run their own lives -- especially a bright wheeler-dealer named Satellite (Soran Ebrahim), who organizes work gangs of other children.
What is their work? They disarm land mines, so they can be re-sold to arms dealers in the nearby town. The land mines are called "American," but this is a reflection of their value and not a criticism of the United States; they were planted in the area by Saddam Hussein, in one of his skirmishes with Kurds and Turks. Early in the film, we see a character named Hyenkov (Hirsh Feyssal), known to everyone as The Boy With No Arms, who gently disarms a mine by removing the firing pin with his lips.