Valley of the Wolves Iraq

Infobox Film | name= Valley Of The Wolves Iraq
Kurtlar Vadisi Irak


director = Serdar Akar
writer = Raci Şaşmaz
Bahadır Özdener
starring = Necati Şaşmaz
Billy Zane
Ghassan Massoud
Gary Busey
Diego Serrano
Gürkan Uygun
Bergüzar Korel
music = Gökhan Kırdar
producer = Raci Şaşmaz
distributor = Pana Film
released = 2006-02-03
runtime = 122 minutes
language = Turkish, English, Arabic and Kurdish
budget = $10,000,000
imdb_id = 0493264

"Valley of the Wolves Iraq" ( _tr. Kurtlar Vadisi Irak) is a popular Turkish film from 2006 based on a television series of the same name that has been a hit in Turkey for three seasons. The movie is set in northern Iraq during the Occupation of Iraq and begins with U.S. forces capturing 11 Turkish special forces soldiers. There are some references to other real events such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the container shipping incident where prisoners were suffocated and shot was based on true events that occurred in Afghanistan (The Road to Guantanamo). The film is sometimes referred to as the Turkish "Rambo".

Filmed with a budget of $10.2 million "Valley of the Wolves" is the most expensive Turkish film ever. The film grossed $27.9 million [http://www.lebleb.com/filmdetails.php/1037] at the box office - $25.1 million in Turkey and $2.8 million in Europe.

Cast

Plot

The movie opens with a fictionalized depiction of a real-life incident: the arrest on July 4, 2003 of 11 allied Turkish special forces soldiers and 13 civilians by the U.S. commander of the 173rd Airborne, Colonel William C. Mayville [http://www.173rdairborne.com/images/iraq-colmayvillejpg.jpg] (Sam William Marshall in the movie, played by American actor Billy Zane) in the northern Iraqi Kurdistan town of Sulaymaniyah. The Turkish soldiers suppose that this is an ordinary visit from their NATO allies. But this time is different.

This arrest is infamous in Turkey as the so-called "Hood event". The soldiers were led out of their headquarters at gunpoint, with hoods over their heads and subsequently detained for sixty hours before being released. This was the first time such an incident had ever taken place between the two NATO allies. Donald Rumsfeld later issued a statement of regret for the detention, but many Turks took great offense at the incident.

One of the Turkish officers, unable to bear the shame of the hooding, committed suicide.In the film, one of the special forces troops, Suleyman Aslan is so humiliated by the shame of the hooding that he commits suicide after writing a letter to his friend, Polat Alemdar (played by Necati Şaşmaz, shown in large profile on the poster).

Alemdar is a former Turkish intelligence agent who has recently severed links to the government agency for which he worked. Determined to avenge his friend's humiliation, Alemdar travels to Iraq along with several of his colleagues to seek vengeance on the American commander whose actions led to Aslan's suicide.

At a checkpoint, Alemdar and his team murder three Iraqi Kurdish paramilitary troops called "Peshmerge".

They attach explosives to the foundation of a hotel. They demand commander Sam William Marshall, who was responsible for the hood incident, to come to the hotel. He complies. When Marshall arrives, Polat wants him to put a sack above his head and to publicly leave the hotel with it, allowing journalists to take photos, taking the same insult he committed to Polat's dead friend. The group threatens to blow up the hotel unless Marshall and some of his men let themselves be led out of the hotel while hooded. Marshall refuses and brings in a group of Iraqi children as human shields. Alemdar gives in and leaves.

Marshall raids an Arab wedding on the pretext of hunting terrorists. When the usual celebratory gunfire starts, one soldier says: "Now they are shooting, now they are terrorists." They attack a wedding party. A small child named Ali sticks a branch up the barrel of one of their guns. The soldier fires as a reflex response, shooting the child Ali dead in front of his parents. The rest of the soldiers panic and begin firing on the wedding guests, beat up the bride, shoot the groom in the head in front of the bride, shoot the guests and children (see controversy, below). The survivors are captured and forced into an airtight container truck and sent to Abu Ghraib prison (the infamous prisoner mistreatment is then depicted later). Enroute an American soldier complains that the prisoners might be suffocating in the truck. One of Marshall's men then fires on the truck, spraying the detainees with bullets. "See, now they won't suffocate to death" he says. When the soldier threatens to report the incident, he is promptly shot.

While, in Abu Ghraib.... supposedly Lynndie England is making naked human pyramids from those arrested in the wedding. The prisoners are washed with high pressure nozzles.

In a later scene, an execution of a Western journalist by Iraqi rebels is about to take place, but an esteemed-by-the-rebels sheikh prevents it and offers the journalist the opportunity to kill the rebel who was about to kill him—the rebel does not resist, but the journalist declines the offer.

The bride Leyla wants revenge by becoming a suicide bomber, but is talked out of it by the Sheikh. Leyla hurries to a market to stop her friend, father of a child killed at the wedding, from blowing himself up where Marshall is having a meeting but is too late. Alemdar and his men, who also happen to be there to assassinate Marshall are led to safety by Leyla.

Alemdar and his team then attempt to kill Marshall again by rigging a bomb in a piano (which once belonged to Saddam Hussein) that's being delivered to Marshall as a gift. The bomb explodes prematurely, and Marshall survives.

Alemdar and Leyla then go to a mosque, to meet the Sheikh. Marshall tracks them down, however, and a big firefight ensues. The entire village and mosque is destroyed by heavy gunfire. Together they manage to kill Marshall, but Leyla is also killed by Marshall.

Controversy

The film has been controversial due to its portrayal of U.S. Military personnel as well as a Jewish character engaging in the harvesting of organs from civilian prisoners.

* In one sequence, the American commander Sam William Marshall (the film's villain) raids an Arab wedding and massacres a number of civilians, which might allude to a factual event involving the wedding party massacre in Mukaradeeb on May 19 2004.

* US soldiers torture detainees in Abu Ghraib prison, which includes a female soldier making a human pyramid, referring to the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse. It is the first depiction of actions by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison on film.

* While captives are transported on a long journey in a container on a truck, one guard says to the other: "They might suffocate in the container because there is no fresh air supply". The truck stops, the (American) guard gets off the truck and fires hundreds of bullet-holes into the container with an automatic weapon "in order to make holes for the air to get in", and as a result many detainees are injured or get killed. A similar event is reported to have occurred in Afghanistan after the battle for Mazari Sharif on November 9, 2001, with Taliban soldiers in the container and soldiers of the Afghan Northern Alliance as their guardians, as described in the documentary film "Massacre at Mazar" by Irish filmmaker Jamie Doran. This event is also reenacted in the film "The Road to Guantanamo".

* The film features a Jewish-American Army doctor (Gary Busey) who harvests fresh organs from injured Iraqi prisoners to sell to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv for transplantation.

Film messages

The film's scriptwriter Bahadir Ozdener has defined the film by saying:

: "Our film is a sort of political action. Maybe 60 or 70 percent 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."

The movie's director, Serdar Akar, went further and said the film was supposed to promote a dialogue between religions. de icon Letsch, Constanze "Dialog der Kulturen" in "Jungle World" 2006-02-22 ISSN 1613-0766.]

International reception

Turkey

* The film has pulled in record audiences on its release in Turkey, capitalizing on widespread opposition to the Iraq War.
* When asked about the factual nature of the scenario, Bülent Arınç, the Chairman of the Turkish Parliament replied "yes, this was exactly as it happened". He called the movie "an extraordinary film that will go into history". [ de icon Letsch, 2006: "ein extraordinärer Film, der Geschichte machen wird."]
* Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul states that "the film is no worse than some of the productions of Hollywood studios".
* Istanbul Mayor, Kadir Topbaş told the "Associated Press" that the movie "was very successful — a soldier's honor must never be damaged."
* The reception in the Turkish media was split. Some called it a milestone for the Turkish film industry — others warned the movie might lead to a strengthening of religious extremism.
* "Unfortunately, that is the perception, rightly or wrongly, and this perception is fueled by the European perception as well, which is not too much different," said Mehmet Ali Birand, a prominent Turkish columnist and anchorman, who said he admired the filmmakers. "They have played with the inner feelings, unsatisfied feelings of Turkish public opinion, and they are making money."
* According to [Compass Direct News] , near the conclusion of 2007, "22-year-old Murat Tabuk reportedly admitted under police interrogation that the popular ultra-nationalist Turkish TV serial “Valley of the Wolves” had inspired him to plan Arkan’s [a Christian pastor in the region] murder." Also, a 19 year old "Muslim youth who stabbed an Italian priest in the stomach on December 16 reportedly admitted in his statement to police that he also had been influenced by an episode of “Valley of the Wolves.”

Germany

* In Germany, the home of European Union's largest Turkish community, the film was heavily criticized for its alleged racism and antisemitism by several politicians from both the right and left ends of the spectrum of mainstream German politics and in several leading newspapers. As a reviewer in the mainstream Spiegel put it, referring to the film's reliance on a revenge motif, "This wouldn't be so bad if the film didn't portray the opponents of Turks and Muslims so brutally — the bad guys in this black and white world are the Americans, the Kurds, the Christians and the Jews. [http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,401565,00.html] .

* In an interview with Bild am Sonntag on February 19, 2006, Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber called upon German theatre owners to stop showing "Valley of the Wolves". Shortly afterward, Germany's largest cinema chain, CinemaxX, pulled the film, which had been popular among Germany's large Turkish community, from its theatres in response to the criticism from politicians.

Jewish Communities

* The Central Council of Jews, a Jewish-German body charged with advocating on behalf of Jewish communities, blasted ‘Valley of the Wolves - Iraq’ (Kurtlar Vadisi - Irak) as antisemitic, racist, and anti-American, and called on German cinemas to stop showing the picture.

United States

* The film has received only minor exposure in the United States and is not widely known.

* On Comedy Central's "The Daily Show", Jon Stewart lampooned Billy Zane and Gary Busey, both mainstream American actors, for appearing in the film ("Gary Busey...who apparently was available"). During the same segment, several clips were played from American films portraying unidentified terrorists of Muslim, Arab or Middle Eastern extraction.

* The U.S. Army recommended that Army personnel overseas not approach cinemas in which the movie is played. [http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=34008&archive=true]

* Vicki Roberts, Busey's attorney for the past six years, said "If Gary played a rapist in a movie, would anyone believe him to be an actual rapist? He is an actor, not a politician." When asked about the moral and ethical implications of portraying what could be construed as an anti-Semitic stereotype in a foreign movie, Roberts declined to comment.Fact|date=May 2008

Google

* Taken as an indicator of general interest, [http://www.google.com/trends Google trends] show that the search term "Valley of the Wolves Iraq" (or "...Irak") has been keyed in the most frequently in Turkey followed by countries with large Turkish minorities such as The Netherlands, Germany and the U.S.A.. On country basis once again, the film's Turkish title, "Kurtlar Vadisi Irak", has been searched most extensively in Azerbaijan, coming before even Turkey, and the leading search languages were Turkish, German and Dutch. [http://www.google.com/trends?q=Kurtlar+Vadisi+Irak] [http://www.google.com/trends?q=Valley+of+the+Wolves+Iraq&ctab=1&geo=all&date=all] [http://www.google.com/trends?q=Valley+of+the+Wolves+Irak&ctab=1&geo=all&date=all]

See also

* Turkey-United States relations
* Metal fırtına, a 2004 Turkish hit novel also featuring a Turkey-U.S. conflict
* Kurtlar Vadisi, the TV series version of the film

Notes

External links

*
* [http://www.valleyofthewolvesiraq.com/ Official site]
* News media
** Turkish movie depicts Americans as savages, CNN, 2006-02-02
** [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4700154.stm Turkish rush to embrace anti-US film] , BBC, 2006-02-10
** [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1139395417918&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter The nefarious parts we play] , "The Jerusalem Post", 2006-02-15
** Referenced in BBC Documentary Archive podcast "Death To America" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/documentary_archive/6619255.stm Part Two: Turkey] (May 2007)


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