Film Reviews

Midnight Express: Hatred Beats Cinematography

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By Alaaddin F. Paksoy | 26 September 2010

“The fault of the movie is simple. It is a movie about Turkey without any Turk in it, neither in the cast nor in the production team. Its hatred against Turks is too overt which makes the narration weak and less riveting than it could have been.”


Midnight Express is a story about a young American man, Billy Hayes, who was arrested in Turkey when he was smuggling hashish before boarding airplane. The film was released in 1978 and won 2 Oscars. Now it is much easier to reach the movie but it is getting less popular while there are more sources to learn something about Turkey.

Midnight Express has a big impact in restricted Turkish image in the western world. In absence of the internet and other alternative information networks in the late 70s and 80s, the movie had been a crucial keyword in the discussions regarding Turkey’s ill treatment to prisoners. However the movie depicts more than a regular human rights violation and represents everything BAD if they are somehow related to Turkey/Turkish/Turkishness: Ugly moustached, very dark tanned (probably darker than Turkish average), homogenous police officers grinning and looking at a naked American boy (Bill Hayes) with homosexual intentions, the Turkish lawyer is a real trickster, the Turkish prosecutor is so cruel, the Turkish prison is like a pigsty, the Turkish prisoners are dirty, and even the glorious city Istanbul and Turkish food which all Turks are proud of are bad in Midnight Express.

The fault of the movie is simple. It is a movie about Turkey without any Turk in it, neither in the cast nor in the production team. Except some establishing shots from Istanbul, all scenes of the movie were shot in Valetta, Malta. Even this information could be enough to watch it critically and think it as a clear anti-Turkish propaganda.


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