Oscar-Winning Film, Midnight Express (1978) – The False Representation of Turkey & Turkish Society

(54 customer reviews)

£1.50

JD Morgan offers a thorough academic analysis and deep-rooted insight into the making and distribution of the Academy Award-winning movie, Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1978). Essentially, JD seeks to redress the balance of the film’s damaging and derogatory representation of Turkey and the Turkish people by revealing the reasons behind such a negative portrayal. Using a wide range of primary sources, comprehensive footnotes and a multitude of archive references, JD intends that this full-length article to appeal to film buffs, reading enthusiasts and interested scholars, alike. Also contains an extensive ‘Select Bibliography’. (8,200 words)

Description

The film Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1978) is loosely based upon an ‘autobiographical’ book written by Billy Hayes (and William Hoffer) pertaining to tell the true story of a young American traveller, arrested at Istanbul Airport in 1970, and charged with being in possession of hashish whilst attempting to board an aeroplane to New York. The story revolves around the harrowing tale of Hayes’ ordeal whilst serving five years of ‘living hell’ in a Turkish prison before finally managing to escape to Greece and freedom.  And because the film text itself concentrates fully on Hayes’ five years of suffering ‘the filth, brutality and degradation of imprisonment in an environment of hellish squalor, while his family fought in vain to secure his release’, later editions of the paperback also had printed on its front cover: ‘Now a major film from Columbia Pictures – A harrowing true story in the great PAPILLON tradition’. This affirmation confirmed that the film had been ‘received’ by mainstream Western cinema-going audiences as a text, not only firmly established within the truest cinematic traditions of the ‘prison and escape’ genre, but also one that was set within the confines of a totally alien, ‘Other’ culture which, in the case of Midnight Express, Ziauddin Sardar claims deliberately attempted to recreate ‘the entire spectrum of the violent, faithless and inhuman Saracens of the Middle Ages’ in the truest post-modern traditions of Western cultural dominance and imperial colonialism that has continued on from Modernist trends to re-package the old and hackneyed ‘traditional’ representations of the non-West.

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