Friday, February 24, 2006

Pop Culture Gets Serious…Istanbulywood: Valley of the Wolves

A Turkish TV show goes silver screen to become Middle East blockbuster. Starring Gary Busey and Billy Zane.

It is rabidly anti-American, and it is the biggest draw in town.

In one scene, trigger-happy US troops massacre civilians at a wedding party.

In another they firebomb a mosque during evening prayer. There are multiple summary executions.

And for the first time, the real-life abuses by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison are played out on the big screen.

This film poisons the climate in a way that enhances jingoistic nationalism among Turks. Even the doctor - played by Gary Busey - is evil, removing human organs from Iraqi prisoners to send to patients in the US, Israel and Britain.

"Our film's a sort of political action," explains script-writer Bahadir Ozdener at the production company's stylish office on the Asian side of Istanbul.

"Maybe 60 or 70% of what happens on screen is factually true. Turkey and America are allies, but Turkey wants to say something to its friend. We want to say the bitter truth. We want to say that this is wrong."

In a mainly Muslim country that has enjoyed a long strategic partnership with the US, Valley of the Wolves has sparked intense interest.

The US ambassador to Ankara was quizzed for his reaction to the film on a major news channel; even Turkey's foreign minister has felt moved to comment on it. Both were anxious to appear conciliatory.

But the film clearly capitalises on a wave of anti-American feeling that peaked with the Sulaymaniyah controversy, but began to swell with preparation for the invasion of Iraq.

Middle East expert Cengiz Candar says the incident in Sulaymaniyah added deep insult to injury in Turkey, where there was already strong opposition to the war across the border.

Source: BBC article.

Other sites:

Valley of the Wolves official site.
Internet Movie DataBase entry.


Post a Comment

<< Home