Sunday, April 3, 2011

Valley of the Wolves!!!

So every weekend I make it a point to go through all my friends updates on Facebook. They share a lot of interesting stuff and sometimes we happen to be logged in at the same time and start chatting. This past weekend I came across a popular Turkish TV series, The Valley of the Wolves. It's about a Turkish commando that gets sent off on wild and exotic missions 'ala Bonds, James Bonds. But what prompted me to share the fictitious heroics of this dashing spy was of course political intrigue.

You see the producers (Pana Film) were not content with the small screen they had visions of bigger things. And so was born Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. A full length feature film featuring Turkish actor Necati Sasmaz as Polat Alemdar, the swashbuckling spy. The film strings together factual events that took place in Iraq during the time of Bush's so called "War on Terror". Polat who is sent by his government on an unofficial mission into Iraq quickly befriends a local Iraqi girl who just lost her husband, during a fire fight with American soldiers at their wedding. The movie goes on and shows the atrocities committed by US soldiers and their for hire security personnel, black water anyone? Ultimately Alemdar kicks some serious American butt.

The production budget was around $8 million and it shows. There were some places where stunts were in order (e.g. the train scene) but the camera looked away letting you imagine the stunt. However it did have some great explosions and the drama was superb. Plus some well known American actors such as Billy Zane & Gary Busey added to the performance.

For all you Ummatis out there, you can find some sage advise in the sub-titles. Answers to such pressing questions such as Why are we in such a wretched state? or Is suicide bombing permissible? or What is really going on in Iraq? are given by a character who plays a Sufi Sheikh (the nasheed scene is not to missed!). Plus the narrative pulls you in to a larger drama, which is superbly executed.

I love how this move breaks away from the cliche of "America F*** Yeah!" and bumbling Arab terrorist getting the snot kicked out of them by US Special Forces. A myth perpetuated by Hollywood for decades, so they shouldn't be complaining about tasting their own medicine. At any rate the opposition did not like unsettling the status quo and the film drew criticism for being Anti-American. Which is funny as it is anything but. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE liked what we did in Iraq. Good men and women were put in a bad situation by facist war mongers like Bush, Chenney, Rumsfield and their long line of henchmen. Is it so wrong to depict them as the villains they are? I mean come on the past administration was nearly charged with war crimes, it was only their influence and wealth that saved them! Of course I am not here to make up your mind decide for yourself:

This film is reminiscent of Muslim classics such as The Message and Lion of the Desert (directed by the late Moustapha Akkad). In that it gives our perspective. Something that is sorely missing these days. Any serious student of history knows that you can not judge past events without first examining all sides of the equation. If news reports are the first draft of how these times will be remembered then the arts are the second draft. This film goes a long way in crystallizing the other side of the equation. People who are claim to fight for democracy and freedom of speech should find no objections to a balanced equation.
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