- Movie Rating -

Midnight Express (1978)

| October 6, 1978

How am I suppose to approach Midnight Express?  I know going in that the movie is based on the true story of the nightmarish journey of Billy Hayes, a young American student who spent time in a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hashish out of the country.  But I also know, coming out, that the movie is a complete fabrication of the facts.  Hayes chronicled his experiences in his 1977 book (unread by me) and then became one of the outraged that cried foul, claiming that the movie fudged the facts.  The movie changes the facts of how Billy was treated in the prison (he was apparently never the victim of sexual violence) and it fudges the facts of his escape.

And yet, and yet, knowing all of this while I watching the movie I was totally absorbed.  Yes, it is fictionalized, yes it was wrong to reinvent the facts of Billy’s imprisonment and escape, but when you’re watching the movie it doesn’t take you away from the experience.  So, how am I suppose to justify my opinion that it is a pretty good movie?

The short answer is, I can’t.  The movie opens with a text informing us emphatically that this is based on a true story so, with that, I am to believe that the next 120 minutes are based on fact.  Yet, Hayes and a lot of other people claimed emphatically that what I am seeing is not true.  So, where do you go?  It is an absorbing movie that is striving for entertainment, not facts.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1978) View IMDB Filed in: Drama, Uncategorized