Valley of the Wolves — Iraq has been watched by more than 2.5 million Turks in its first ten days. Such is the success of the most expensive Turkish film ever made (£5.8 million) that lawyers and police have been raiding the sellers of pirate copies.
"The film is absolutely magnificent," Bulent Arinc, the parliament Speaker and one of several politicians to attend the gala in Ankara, said. "It is completely true to life".
Applause broke out when the American "bad guy", played by Billy Zane, was killed. The film begins with a real-life incident in which US troops arrested 11 Turkish special forces in Iraq and marched them off at gunpoint, an event for which the US has apologised but never fully explained. It deeply upset Turks, who are normally favourably disposed to all things American.
The story follows Polat Alemdar, an intelligence agent, as he travels to Iraq to avenge one of the Turkish soldiers, who was so tormented that he committed suicide. Polat joins a bride who survived a wedding massacre perpetrated by Zane's character. The abuse at Abu Ghraib is portrayed in full.
The film amounts to a collective venting of anger. Pinar Terzi, 26, an editorial assistant, said: "It shows all the awful things the American soldiers did in Iraq."
She echoes the impression among Turks that America under President Bush has ceased to be a close ally. She said: "Clinton wasn't like this. He was a man of peace. But Bush and his people just want to control Iraq and the whole region because of oil."
Although US diplomats have played down the significance of the film, it does build on the success of Metal Storm, a rabidly anti-American bestseller about a future war between Turkey and the US.
In the Pew Global Attitudes poll last year, 70 per cent of Turks associated Americans with the word "violent". They also thought them rude, greedy and immoral. Such attitudes also explain the popularity of Cola Turk, a local soft drink produced after the Iraq war in a country whose teenagers are devoted to Big Macs and American rock bands.
Turkey infuriated Washington when it blocked a US assault on Iraq through southeast Turkey. For their part, Turks have been angered by the US's perceived failure to act against Turkey-based Kurdish separatist insurgents in Iraq.
Turkish ire is not directed solely at Washington. Turks are upset by the apparent reluctance of the EU to admit Turkey to its ranks.
Rising nationalism fuelled angry protests at the trial of the novelist Orhan Pamuk for publicly discussing the killing of a million Armenians under Turkish rule in 1915. The commentator Mehmet Altan said: "I fully expected this film to break records. Its makers knew exactly what to do to profit from Turkey's difficulties in adapting to the world." Turkey's large, uneducated population felt lost in the the information age, he added, and sections of the ruling elite opposed reforms that eroded their power.
timesonlineLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16