- Midnight Express (film)
- For the 1924 silent film, see The Midnight Express (film).
French theatrical poster
Directed by Alan Parker Produced by Alan Marshall
Written by Oliver Stone Story by Billy Hayes (book)
William Hoffer (book)
Starring Brad Davis
Paul L. Smith
Music by Giorgio Moroder Cinematography Michael Seresin Editing by Gerry Hambling Distributed by Columbia Pictures Release date(s) October 6, 1978 Running time 121 minutes Country United States Language English Budget US$ 2,300,000
Midnight Express is a 1978 American film directed by Alan Parker and produced by David Puttnam. It is based on Billy Hayes's 1977 book and was adapted into the screenplay by Oliver Stone. It starred Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins, Paolo Bonacelli, Paul L. Smith, Randy Quaid, Norbert Weisser, Peter Jeffrey and John Hurt. Hayes was a young American student sent to a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey. The movie deviates from the book's accounts of the story – especially in its portrayal of Turks – and some have criticized the movie version, including Billy Hayes himself. Later, both Stone and Hayes expressed their regret on how Turkish people were portrayed in the movie. The film's title is prison slang for an inmate's escape attempt. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rated the film "R".
On October 6, 1970, a U.S. citizen named Billy Hayes is arrested by Turkish police, on high alert due to fear of terrorist attacks, as he is about to fly out of Istanbul with his girlfriend. He is found to have several bricks of hashish taped to his body — about two kilograms in total — and arrested. After a while, a shadowy American (who is never named, but is nicknamed 'Tex' by Billy due to his thick Texan accent) arrives, takes Billy to a police station and translates for Billy for one of the detectives. On questioning Billy tells them that he bought the hash from a taxicab driver, and offers to help the police track him down in exchange for his release. Billy goes with the police to a nearby market and points out the cab driver, but when the police go to arrest the cabbie Billy makes a run for it. He gets cornered in a building and is recaptured by the mysterious American. Billy is sentenced to four years and two months' imprisonment on the charge of drug possession. He is sent to Sağmalcılar prison to serve out his sentence. He meets and befriends other Western prisoners in the remand centre.
In 1974, Billy's sentence is overturned by the Turkish High Court in Ankara after a prosecution appeal (the prosecutor originally wished to have him found guilty of smuggling and not possession), and he is ordered to serve at least a 30-year term for his crime. His stay becomes a living hell: terrifying and unbearable scenes of physical and mental torture follow one another; bribery, violence and insanity rule the prison.
In 1975 Billy's girlfriend, Susan, comes to see him and is devastated at what the guards have done to him. However, she leaves him a scrapbook with money hidden inside as "a picture of your good friend Mr. Franklin from the bank," hoping Billy can use it to help him escape. When he is committed to the prison's insane asylum, Billy again tries to escape, this time by attempting to bribe the head guard to take him to the sanitarium where there are no guards. Instead the guard takes Billy past the sanitarium to another room and attempts to rape him. Billy ends up killing the brutish and sadistic guard, puts on an officer's uniform and manages his escape by walking out of the front door. In the epilogue it is explained that on the night of October 4, 1975 he successfully crossed the border to Greece, and arrived home three weeks later.
- Brad Davis as Billy Hayes
- Irene Miracle as Susan
- Bo Hopkins as 'Tex'
- Paolo Bonacelli as Rifki
- Paul L. Smith as Hamidou
- Randy Quaid as Jimmy Booth
- Norbert Weisser as Erich
- John Hurt as Max
- Kevork Malikyan as the Prosecutor
- Yashaw Adem as the Airport police chief
- Mike Kellin as Mr. Hayes
- Franco Diogene as Yesil
- Michael Ensign as Stanley Daniels
Although the story is set largely in Turkey, the movie was filmed almost entirely at Fort Saint Elmo in Valletta, Malta, after permission to film in Istanbul was denied. Background shots of Istanbul were made by a small crew pretending to shoot footage for a cigarette commercial. However, ending credits of the movie state: "Made entirely on location in Malta and recorded at EMI Studios, Borehamwood by Columbia Pictures Corporation Limited 19/23 Wells Street, London, W1 England."
The making of the film, I'm Healthy, I'm Alive, and I'm Free, was released in 1977.
Differences between the book and the film
There are some differences between the cinematic and literary versions of Midnight Express:
- In the movie, Billy Hayes is in Turkey with his girlfriend when he is arrested, whereas in the original story he is alone.
- The attempted rape scene was fictionalized. Billy Hayes never claimed to have suffered any sexual violence at the hands of his Turkish wardens. He did engage in consensual sex while in prison, but the film depicts Hayes rejecting the advances of a fellow prisoner.
- The scene where Billy attempts to escape and is recaptured by 'Tex', the shadowy American agent, did not happen. 'Tex' was a real person Billy encountered after his arrest, who indeed pulled a gun on him, but that was when he attempted to sneak out of the police car they were riding in from the Istanbul airport to the police station. But in the book's account Tex drove Billy to the police station and Billy never saw him again. It was another policeman who translated for Billy during his interrogation.
- Although Billy Hayes did spend a few months in the prison's psychiatric hospital in 1972, Hayes never bit out anyone's tongue or engaged in the violent fight scene depicted, which led to him being committed to the section for the criminally insane in the film.
- In the book's ending, Hayes was moved to another prison on an island from which he escapes, eventually by swimming across the lake. In the movie this passage is replaced by a violent scene in which he unwittingly kills the head guard who is preparing to rape him. In reality, Hamidou, the sadistic guard, was killed in 1973 by a recently paroled prisoner, who spotted him drinking tea at a café outside the prison and shot him eight times.
Midnight Express – Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Soundtrack album by Giorgio Moroder Released October 6, 1978 Genre Disco Length 37:00 Label Casablanca Records Producer Giorgio Moroder Professional reviews Giorgio Moroder chronology "From Here to Eternity"
"Music from "Battlestar Galactica" and Other Original Compositions"
- Chase – Giorgio Moroder (8:24)
- Love's Theme – Giorgio Moroder (5:33)
- Theme from Midnight Express (Instrumental) – Giorgio Moroder (4:39)
- Istanbul Blues (Vocal) – David Castle (3:17)
- The Wheel – Giorgio Moroder (2:24)
- Istanbul Opening – Giorgio Moroder (4:43)
- Cacophoney – Giorgio Moroder (2:58)
- Theme from Midnight Express (Vocal) – Chris Bennett (4:47)
Negative criticisms focused mainly on its unfavorable portrayal of Turkish people. In Mary Lee Settle's 1991 book Turkish Reflections, she writes, "The Turks I saw in Lawrence of Arabia and Midnight Express were like cartoon caricatures, compared to the people I had known and lived among for three of the happiest years of my life." When the Lights Go Down criticizes the film as well, saying, "This story could have happened in almost any country, but if Billy Hayes had planned to be arrested to get the maximum commercial benefit from it, where else could he get the advantages of a Turkish jail? Who wants to defend Turks? (They don’t even constitute enough of a movie market for Columbia Pictures to be concerned about how they are represented)". One reviewer writing for World Film Directors wrote, "Midnight Express is 'more violent, as a national hate-film than anything I can remember', 'a cultural form that narrows horizons, confirming the audience’s meanest fears and prejudices and resentments'".
David Denby of New York criticized the film as "merely anti-Turkish, and hardly a defense of prisoners' rights or a protest against prison conditions". Denby said also that all Turks in the movie – guardian or prisoner – were portrayed as "losers" and "swines" and that "without exception [all the Turks] are presented as degenerate, stupid slobs".
Turkish Cypriot film director Dervis Zaim wrote a thesis at Warwick University on the representation of Turks in the film, where he concluded that the one-dimensional portrayal of the Turks as "terrifying" and "brutal" served merely to reinforce the sensational outcome and was likely influenced by such factors as Orientalism and Capitalism.
Awards and nominations
Midnight Express won Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score (Giorgio Moroder) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Stone). It was also nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Hurt), Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture.
The film was also entered into the 1978 Cannes Film Festival.
An amateur interview with Hayes appeared on YouTube, recorded during the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, in which he described his experiences and expressed his disappointment with the film adaptation. In an article for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Hayes was reported as saying that the film "depicts all Turks as monsters."
When he visited Turkey in 2004, screenwriter Oliver Stone, who won an Academy Award for the film, made an apology for the portrayal of the Turkish people in the film. He "eventually apologised for tampering with the truth."
Alan Parker, Oliver Stone and Billy Hayes were invited to attend a special film screening with prisoners in the garden of an L-type prison in Döşemealtıas, Turkey as part of the 47th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival in October 2010.
In popular culture
- In the The Simpsons' seventh episode of season three, "Treehouse of Horror II" (which aired on October 31, 1991), Lisa dreams that the family is vacationing in Marrakech. When they board the plane to go home Homer is stopped and searched while grim and suspenseful music plays. Homer's shirt is examined and reveals that he has taped souvenirs to his body as officers hold him at gunpoint in a reference to the film's arrest scene. An officer tells him he must "pay a fine of two American dollars," to which Homer happily replies, "O.K."
- In an episode of SCTV, one of the skits is entitled "The Midnight Express Special", a TV program set in a Turkish prison. Parodies of famous singers such as John Denver, Anne Murray (portrayed by Andrea Martin) and others perform, and each is arrested by prison guards in mid-performance as they believe that the song's lyrics are allusionary references to illegal drugs.
- In the song "Sanctified" by Nine Inch Nails, a sample of Billy's letter-writing voice-over can be heard.
References and notes
- ^ "Real-life 'Midnight Express' character visits Turkey to 'make amends'". http://www.pr-inside.com/real-life-midnight-express-character-visits-r154835.htm.
- ^ Ratings. MPAA.
- ^ Billy Hayes and the Real Midnight Express by James Sheldon, June 30, 2010
- ^ Midnight Express. Rotten Tomatoes.
- ^ Mary Lee Settle (1991). Turkish Reflections. New York: Prentice Hall Press. ISBN 0139176756.
- ^ Pauline Kael (1980). When the Lights Go Down. New York: Hall Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 0030425115.
- ^ John Wakeman(ed) (1988). World Film Directors. New York: T.H. W. Wilson Co.
- ^ a b Denby, D. (1978, October 16). One Touch of Mozart. New York Magazine, 11(42), 123.
- ^ "Representation of the Turkish People in Midnight Express". Zaim, Dervis. Published in Örnek literary journal, 1994. A copy can be found at http://www.tallarmeniantale.com/MidExp-academic.htm
- ^ "Festival de Cannes: Midnight Express". festival-cannes.com. http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/archives/ficheFilm/id/1973/year/1978.html. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- ^ Part 1, Part 2
- ^ "Interview with Billy Hayes about 'Midnight Express' on YouTube". Youtube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMsNPCVbNhw. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- ^ "The real Billy Hayes regrets 'Midnight Express' cast all Turks in a bad light – Seattle Post Intelligencer". Seattlepi.com. 2004-01-10. http://www.seattlepi.com/movies/156011_midnightexpress.html. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- ^ Smith, Helena. Stone sorry for Midnight Express. Guardian. December 16, 2004.
- ^ Walsh, Caspar. The 10 best prison films. The Observer. May 30, 2010
- ^ "'Midnight Express' team to watch film with Turkish prisoners". Hürriyet Daily News. 2010-05-20. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=geceyarisi-ekspresi-ekibi-cezaevinde-mahkumlarla-film-izleyecek-2010-05-20. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Midnight Express at the Internet Movie Database
- Midnight Express truth revealed by Alinur (Part 1 – Part 2): Interview with Hayes about the movie at YouTube.
- Script of movie by Oliver Stone (pdf)
Awards Preceded by
The Turning Point
Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama
Kramer vs. Kramer
Films directed by Alan Parker 1970sBugsy Malone (1976) • Midnight Express (1978) 1980s 1990s 2000sThe Life of David Gale (2003) Films by Oliver Stone Feature filmsSeizure (1974) • The Hand (1981) • Salvador (1986) • Platoon (1986) • Wall Street (1987) • Talk Radio (1988) • Born on the Fourth of July (1989) • The Doors (1991) • JFK (1991) • Heaven & Earth (1993) • Natural Born Killers (1994) • Nixon (1995) • U Turn (1997) • Any Given Sunday (1999) • Alexander (2004) • World Trade Center (2006) • W. (2008) • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) • Savages (2012) Documentaries Screenplays
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
The Midnight Express (film) — Infobox Film name = The Midnight Express image size = caption = director = George W. Hill producer = writer = George W. Hill narrator = starring = Elaine Hammerstein William Haines music = cinematography = editing = distributor = Columbia… … Wikipedia
Midnight Express — Données clés Titre original Midnight Express Réalisation Alan Parker Scénario Oliver Stone William Hoffer d après William Hayes Acteurs principaux Brad Davis Irene Miracle … Wikipédia en Français
Midnight Express — may refer to: Midnight Express (book), a 1977 book by Billy Hayes and William Hoffer Midnight Express (film), a 1978 film dramatization of the book Midnight Express, the soundtrack album to the film Midnight Express by Giorgio Moroder The… … Wikipedia
Midnight Express (book) — Midnight Express is a 1977 book by Billy Hayes and William Hoffer about Billy s experience as a young American who was sent to a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey to the US. An adaptation of the book was made into an… … Wikipedia
Midnight Express — Drame d Alan Parker, avec Brad Davis (Billy Hayes), Randy Quaid (Jimmy), John Hurt (Max), Paul Smith (Hamidou). Scénario: Oliver Stone, d après le livre de Billy Hayes et William Hopper Photographie: Michel Seresin Décor: Geoffrey… … Dictionnaire mondial des Films
Midnight Express — Der Midnight Express war eins der legendärsten Wrestling Tag Teams der 1980er Jahre und setzte mit seiner Eingespieltheit neue Maßstäbe im Tag Team Genre. Es bestand in seiner Hauptzeit aus Bobby Eaton und Dennis Condrey, bzw. später aus Eaton… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Midnight Express — Este artículo trata sobre la película. Para otros usos de este término, véase Midnight Express (libro). Midnight Express Título El expreso de medianoche (España) Expreso de medianoche (México) Ficha técnica Dirección Alan Parker … Wikipedia Español
Pineapple Express (film) — Pineapple Express Theatrical release poster Directed by David Gordon Green Produced by … Wikipedia
12 Uhr nachts - Midnight Express — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: 12 Uhr nachts – Midnight Express Originaltitel: Midnight Express Produktionsland: USA, GB Erscheinungsjahr: 1978 Länge: 121 Minuten Originalsprache … Deutsch Wikipedia
12 Uhr nachts – Midnight Express — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: 12 Uhr nachts – Midnight Express Originaltitel: Midnight Express Produktionsland: USA, GB Erscheinungsjahr: 1978 Länge: 121 Minuten Originalsprache … Deutsch Wikipedia