Kurtlar Varsi vs. Valley of the Sun

Have seen one and a half war movies today. First i went to Neukölln to see ‘Kurtlar Varsi: iraq‘ (Valley of the Wolves: Iraq) and then tonight on TV i ended up watching the second half of ‘Tears of the Sun‘.

For those who have not followed the hysteric discussions in Germany in the last month: Valley of the Wolves is the Turkish Blockbuster that depicts a Turkish secret service agent’s mission in Iraq. He is on a (unofficial) mission to kill a CIA operative who was responsible for arresting and humiliating a dozen of Turkish soldiers who were stationed in northern Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003. Having the soldiers arrested and taken away with bags over their heads apparently caused an enormous nationalistic trauma in Turkey and our hero (the tagline of the film is ‘Some Men Are Born to be Heroes’) is here (or rather in Iraq) to take revenge (and to break the hearts of local women).

The film has been wildly accused of anti-semitism and anti-Americanism in the German media and while does indeed use anti-semitic clichés to a level where it is hard to not leave the cinema i would not call it anti-American. The film rather portraits the the American aggression against Iraq from a viewpoint that is not identical with that of the aggressors (and the western media). While in general the story-line is at best absurd (like in most of the films starring Chuck Norris) and the dialogues are extremely weak, the film does give you an idea how the global war on terror can be perceived if you have been born on the wrong side of the either-you-are-with-us-or-you-are-against-us rhetoric.

The most striking scene of the movie is the re-enactment of the 2003 Abu Ghraib torture photographs which makes some of the pictures (the dog & pvt. England) come alive on screen. You can argue that this is a cheap trick (like two young leftists in the subway station did), but it also is the most realistic scene of the entire movie as it is undoubtedly based on real events. In the end it is this scene what keeps the movie form being a bad, anti-semitic, pathetic and pseudo religious piece of crap as it it gives it some credibility. To me it almost feels like the rest of the movie just serves the function of tying the Abu Ghreib scene and the arrest of the Turkish soldiers together. The interring question is if the film would have had the same success without the blatant anti-semitism…

Tears of the Sun, to the contrary, features Bruce Willis as a cynical American special force commander that goes into the jungle to save a (attractive female) american doctor and (being under the influences of her charms) ends up disobeying orders (and losing a couple of his men) in order to protect (her and) the 70 or so refugees, whom his superiors considers ‘excess baggage’.

Valley of the sun (just like Kurtlar Varsi, where the Turkish super agent finally manages to kill his American counterpart but looses the beautiful chick) does have an happy ending (complete with a copy of the palm tree napalm air-strike scene from apoclypse now) in which the black hawk helicopters arrive to take the exhausted special forces soldiers and the refugees home while smiling african kids wave the helicopters good-bye as they depart into the afternoon sky…

While i cannot help to feel relieved when the black hawks arrive in the sky this particular combination of films makes me wonder how many people outside of the first world are left to muster the optimism of thinking that help is on its way when they see a black hawk helicopter approaching in the sky…

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