Freedom and Punishment: Midnight Express2 min read

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“Midnight Express,” a gripping drama film released in 1978, has been the subject of controversy since its release due to its depiction of Turkish prisons and the country’s justice system. The Turkish government criticized the film, calling it anti-Turkish and inaccurate, and requested that it be banned in several countries.

Despite the controversy, the film was received positively at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for Palme d’Or, the festival’s top prize.The film gained critical acclaim, receiving six Oscar nominations and winning two, including Best Original Screenplay (Oliver Stone).

From a critical standpoint, “Midnight Express” is a powerful film that highlights the harsh realities of prison life and the treatment of inmates in Turkey. The movie is a testament to the power of filmmaking to raise awareness of social and political issues and spark meaningful discussions. The film’s unapologetic portrayal of the Turkish justice system and the treatment of foreign prisoners is a reflection of the real-life situation at the time.

As for regular moviegoers, “Midnight Express” is a compelling and emotional movie that can engage and captivate audiences with its powerful storytelling and exceptional performances. The movie’s message about the importance of justice and freedom is universal and resonates with viewers across cultures and backgrounds.

“Midnight Express” stands the test of time, despite the controversy it generated and is in the watch list of many. “Midnight Express” portrays the loss of freedom and basic human rights that imprisonment entails. The character of Billy Hayes serves as a powerful embodiment of this reality as he endures the physical and emotional tolls of confinement in Turkish prisons or for that matter anywhere in the world. Through his personal transformation and evolving views on crime and punishment, Hayes challenges the very notion of severe punishment as a means of rehabilitation.

The film also highlights the small pleasures we often take for granted, and how they become a luxury that is often denied to prisoners. This theme forces us to reflect on the value of our own liberty and to appreciate the many small joys in life that we may otherwise overlook. In the end, “Midnight Express” is a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving human dignity and individual rights, and challenges us to rethink our assumptions about crime and punishment.

Tailpiece (Source: Wikipedia)

The quote ‘Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?’, in the American comedy film Airplane! (1980), is a reference to Midnight Express.
Susan’s prison visit was spoofed in the 1996 film The Cable Guy, where Jim Carrey opens his shirt, presses his naked breast against the glass, and cries, ‘Oh, Billy!’

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