Thursday, February 28, 2008

Iraqi Review: Valley of the Wolves - Irak (Kurtlar Vadisi)

ex-Gilgamish once asked me to review this movie at the time of the Turkish incursions, I was willing to do so but the Turks didn't oblige by giving me the appropriate circumstances again, until today: They have launched a full-scale operation with a codename and all, so now is a good time to review the movie touted as the most expensive in Turkish cinema (10.2$ mil to make, made 26.7$, by comparison the most expensive Egyptian (and Arab) film took 4$ mil to make).

The movie shows its horrid premise as a nationalist propaganda piece right from the first frame, a Turkish officer writes to an old ex-Turkish intelligence friend about the shame and disgrace he felt when he was forced to walk out of their station somewhere in northern Iraq with a hood on their heads, which is based on an actual event apologized by Rumsfeld at the time called the Hood Event. Of course, the brave Turk takes annoying lengths in parading his pride and dignity before this takes place, after sealing the letter, he commits suicide, boo hoo.

the recipient of the letter is our brave hero, I forgot his name and I won't bother to look it up so I'll just call him Mr. Big Khasawi (Big Cojones), Abu Khasawi reads the letter, and instead of laughing his ass off at his pathetic pal who took his life for wearing hijab for five minutes ; he immediately hitchhikes to Iraq with 3 Turkish mofos to meet their destination, the super-villian Mr. Arrogant White Jesus Freak (played by Billy Zane, who's probably a registered democrat) who committed this horrible ass-rape of the great Turkish pride, which is only heard of in Turkey, of course.

I must admit that the only fun I had in this movie was watching the Americans get a share of their own poison, as an Arab who's frequently reduced to a stereotype in powerfully influential American films, I had the immense pleasure of watching the Americans here portrayed as nothing but cold, ruthless beasts with little regard for human life, the soldiers look dirty and sport funny degraded haircuts, there's also a Jewish doctor who specializes in stealing human organs (Yes, delicious guilty-pleasure anti-semitism! boo-hoo!) from corpses to sell them someplace else (too bored to concentrate where) and they're led by a glinting-eyes lunatic who believes in spreading the word of Jesus. Of course that stereotype is easier to refute than the Arabs in western media, but that's only because American culture is so recognizable ; it was really fun to watch Billy Zane holding children hostage like a lowly creature.

The problem is that the Turks don't stop there ; this film is an insult to everyone else as well, the Kurds are nothing but American stooges, while the others are helpless, idiotic sheep, only Mr. Khasawi seems to be holding his pants up as a human being. Just look at the picture, the amount of presence (and balls) this Turk has is just Subhan-Allah-unbelievable. The only other positive character is a religious sheik called Abdul-Rahman Kirkukli, an uber-respected sane-sage-in-crazy-world dude who persuades some pathetic Arab Jihadists about to behead a Western Journalism to drop their weapons and then teaches them the true meaning of Islam, it took me about 0.34 seconds to realize that this sheikh is Turkmen, and with a Turkmen named Kirkukli, the nasty Turkish intent is fully blazing here. I bet Barazani was pissed.

Even though Iraq and most of the Arab world was part of the Ottoman Empire for a long period of history, I must admit I know very little about Turks except for the Zagur chewing gums with collectible stickers we used to buy in our childhood (at the time they said it was an Israeli conspiracy and the gum caused sterility, well, I'll tell you if that's true when I get married), so I thought that this was a good chance to become familiar with the Pashas of yore and as a secular I wanted to learn more about the former Caliphate which did an 180 to secularism successfully, sadly, all I came out was the impression that Turks are flag-waving maniacs who think very smugly of themselves and believe they got the market cornered on the meaning of Islam. At the end of the film, the female hero, an Iraqi (Turkmen? her costumes are so weird, more like Indian if you ask me) whose husband was killed by the Piggy Americans and who wanted to become a suicide bomber meets with the Alpha-Male Khasawi who resuces her, together our zero-chemistry heroes kill the Nazionist Billy Zane but he kills the tender Iraqi before her Turkish savior gets to go all kissy on her. boo-hoo.

PROS: Americans look stupid. Thank you brothers in Islam. :D
CONS: Totally Turkish fist-pumping action flick, totally unbelievable in arrogance, at least Saving Private Ryan was believable.


BlogIraqi said...

I thought the movie was a waste of time and I would have watched "The Departed" again instead of it.
I have been to Turkey in early 2004. And I visited some of the Kurdish areas like Dyar-Bakir. The kurdish-turks were much nicer and more easy-going than the turkish-turks, at least with Iraqis like myself.
I think this movie was nothing but a cheap shot to gain back some of the lost dignity of the great empire they once had.

Anonymous said...

Well you have to be one ignorant fool to watch something that the other ignorant fool recommended to you.

nadia n said...

I think this movie was nothing but a cheap shot to gain back some of the lost dignity of the great empire they once had.
And their relations with the US and NATO. It's not really a credible position to play the pan-Islamic card from.

I think another one of the most offensive things to me about it was the comparison they made between the "humiliation" of the hoods and the massacre at the wedding, to make it seem like they are just as oppressed as those living under occupation, like they are the same as the bride or something. I watched the movie without subtitles though so I probably missed a lot.

Turkish nationalism is fucking batshit insane, but I don't know enough Turks to have an opinion on Turkish culture in general. I feel like I am supposed to read Orhan Pamuk but at this point I'm fed up with the subject and I'll be happy if we can get them to stop telling the rest of the world what to think about their history. I like the food and the music, though!

Also I'm pretty sure Billy Zane and Gary Busee apologized for being in that movie later.
...I'd ask you what you think of Persepolis but I'm scared of getting another lecture on Iranian hegemony.

programmer craig said...

It might have been better if they had Chuck Norris in it, no?

Abbas Hawazin said...


man, the Departed was the coolest movie ever. for the first time I totally agreed with the Oscars. No Country For Old Men sucks, even I Am Legend was better (of course the ending totally sucked)

actually I watched it before she told me about it.

nadia n, I guess Ibrahim Tatlis is also a good extension of Turkish culture, but I never was a fan.

prog craig, I wasn't ever a fan of Chuck Norris so if there is any sarcasm it's lost on me. :)

RhusLancia said...

Abbas, what is your final rating?

Mister Ghost said...

Chuck Norris could single-handedly kick all the Turk and Iraqi asses, without breaking a sweat. If he did, he would then bottle it and sell it as a potent elixir of strength and vitality.

What that movie really needed was an intervention by Oprah Winfrey to reconcile the differences between America, Iraq, and the Iraqis themselves.

Then Oprah would pay a surprise visit to Sunshine of Mosul and present her with an early scholarship to Harvard and four years free rent to a New York penthouse apartment for her family.

And a Barak Obama matching bra and panty set for Mama, the sexiest woman in the Iraqi blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

Hello Catharsis

inta shloneek,

I was long time off-line, because I finally finished my paper about the "Iraqi language"

I hope you are fine.

I will comment about your post a bit later, because I really enjoy it.

I just want to say "Muchas gracias" for taking up this issue.

Gilgamesh X

nadia n said...

I searched for that guy you mentioned and it led me to youtube videos with inappropriate dancing. I have a lot of Turkish records-some of it is just basically arabic music, like they're the exact same songs with almost the exact same lyrics in Turkish.

I forgot to mention I d/l this movie cause I saw it when you'd posted it in the sidebar and had no idea what it was. I watched it with some serious christians, I felt so bad after.

If I wanted to be all academic I could say the impotence factor in the popularity of these movies is an interesting one. I guess you could also point out all the American asskicking movies got big ie Rambo, Chuck Norris etcetc and the Middle East adventurism, "the Libyans, run for it Marty", that came around after the OPEC crisis in the 1970s and come home from Viet Nam. Shaheen seems to agree with me anyways.
In the 1990s after the Gulf war and the Cold War had ended, there was the idea floating around that we should be "nicer," or at least it was more popular.

...I have to make everything into politics, it's a reflex.

nadia n said...

Sorry I'm going to comment on your last post here because clicking on your blog again will probably make my browser crash.

re: secularism: Do you remember this poll? At the time it came out people were mostly talking other things but I was most struck by the answer to Q17. Some people argue polls are bullshit, it depends on the question you ask and how you word it, etc, but I was really surprised the theocratic option did that badly.

In general you come at these subjects from a much more essentialist perspective than I would. I mean there's saying on the one hand that we had no problems before 2003 and it was all the US, or on the other hand saying the US had NO role in this whatsoever Iraq was always this fucked up and always will be but there's a huge grey area between either extreme.

As far as sectarian cold wars go I don't know if you're familiar with this article by Seymour(more?) Hersh, called "The Redirection"-it was controversial when it came out here. I'd be really curious to hear your take on it.

Nasra Fateh Ali Khan is the most famous as far as muslim singers go, I think, at least with non-muslims, the music nerds love him.

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