On October 6, 1970 while boarding an international flight out of Istanbul Airport, American Billy Hayes is caught attempting to smuggle 2 kilos of hashish out of the country, the drugs strapped to his body. He is told that he will be released if he cooperates with the authorities in identifying the person who actually sold him the hash. Billy's troubles really begin when after that assistance, he makes a run for it and is recaptured. He is initially sentenced to just over four years for possession, with no time for the more harsh crime of smuggling. The prison environment is inhospitable in every sense, with a sadistic prison guard named Hamidou ruling the prison, he who relishes the mental and physical torture he inflicts on the prisoners for whatever reason. Told to trust no one, Billy does befriend a few of the other inmates, namely fellow American Jimmy Booth (in for stealing two candlesticks from a mosque), a Swede named Erich, and one of the senior prisoners having already ... Written by
Billy Hayes visited Turkey in 2007 and in a widely publicized press conference stated that the movie was a gross exaggeration and one-sided misrepresentation of his experience in Turkey : "He expressed his regret and accepted responsibility for the damage the film inflicted on Turkey's image worldwide for decades. (...) Reportedly, even today, a quarter century after its release, people cite the film as a reason not to visit Turkey. It has been loathed by Turks as a racist misrepresentation of Turkey since its first screening in 1978. According to Hayes, both Stone and Parker misrepresented his experiences during his incarceration and included gross exaggerations of his treatment in jail and of his encounters with Turks during that time. Hayes told reporters in Istanbul that he has been trying for years to correct these misperceptions in the media, but that his voice was drowned by the powerful images created by the film and its makers. Underlining that he had made friendships with many Turks, before and after he was incarcerated, he noted that the movie's story line did not depict even one such "good Turk." During his visit to Istanbul, Hayes also gave an interview to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, where he issued apologies to Turks for all the problems the film created and reiterated that many brutal scenes of mistreatment depicted in the movie did, in fact, not happen. His remarks last week in Istanbul are not the first time that Hayes publicly regretted Midnight Express. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, published on January 10, 2004, Hayes stated that "he feels awful that the film gave a brutal reputation to the entire nation of Turkey," and that it also bothers him that it depicts all Turks as monsters. In Hayes' words: "The message of 'Midnight Express' isn't 'Don't go to Turkey. It's 'Don't be an idiot like I was, and try to smuggle drugs.""[July 2, 2007] See more »
The movie is set in 1970. When Billy Hayes makes a visit to the toilet at the airport to wash his face, there is a poster on the wall showing a shot of the Bosphorus Bridge which was built in 1973. See more »
[Susan makes her way through a line at an airline checkpoint]
Excuse me... Excuse me... Excuse me... Excuse me.
[she reaches Billy in line]
Geez, I hate flying.
It's something I ate. I think I've been poisoned.
Or you're just excited about getting home.
No, I think it's the baklavas.
[...] See more »
A good movie but keep in mind a near total fantasy.
I like this movie a lot. I believe it is well done and is a movie that can be watched several times. However, as a person who has spent time in Turkey and read the book upon which the film is based, I know that it is a fictional story. It begins with a caption "a true story" but the only thing true about this movie is that someone named Billy Hayes was caught trying to smuggle a lot of hashish out of the country and was sent to jail. The events that supposedly happened to him in prison are fictional. I'm not saying that being in a Turkish prison is a good thing but the brutality presented is just plain fiction. Before you feel sorry for this guy remember that he was trying to smuggle drugs for re-sale in the US. Before you condemn Turkey remember that at the time Turkey was being pressured by the world community, particularly by the US, to do something about the drug flow coming out of the country. This is one movie that infuriates the Turkish government whenever it is shown and I believe rightly so because it caters to the notion that Turkey is some type or barbaric nation with a population that is incapable of human emotion or decency. Having lived in Turkey I know this to be totally false. In addition, with the exception of the skyline of Istanbul in the opening scene, none of the movie was filmed in Turkey. All of the Turks portrayed in the film, with the exception of the prosecutor, are Italian actors. The language spoken in the movie is not even Turkish for the most part. There are some phrases which are indeed Turkish but the majority of what is spoken is some other language. As I said however, I like this movie, in the same way that I like Star Trek; a great story but fiction none the less.
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