‘Midnight Express’ author raises Turkish flag

‘Midnight Express’ author raises Turkish flag

NEW YORK – Anadolu Agency
‘Midnight Express’ author raises Turkish flag

Billy Hayes atones by raising the Turkish flag on Wall Street. DHA Photo

The real-life protagonist of the Academy award-winning 1978 film “Midnight Express” has again expressed his regret at how Turkey and its people were portrayed in the controversial film.

An emotionally charged Billy Hayes raised the Turkish flag up the flagpole in New York City’s Wall Street on Oct. 29, as part of celebrations marking the 91st anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.

“It’s a very powerful thing for me to be able to come back after these 40 years and make the statement here today and be embraced by Turkish people who, for many years, did not want to embrace me because of this movie,” Hayes said.

Directed by Alan Parker and adapted into a screenplay by Oliver Stone, “Midnight Express” was based on Hayes’ eponymous autobiographical book about his nightmarish experinces in and eventual escape from a Turkish prison after being convicted of smuggling hashish.

However, the film was criticized by many for misrepresenting Turkey and damaging its international image and reputation. Stone, who won an Academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the movie, has also expressed his regret at how Turks are portrayed in the film.

Speaking in New York, Hayes said ““Midnight Express” was “only a film.” “I am hoping people will be more aware of my real feelings towards Turkey and the Turkish people, and realize that the movie that they see is only a film,” he said.

Hayes stressed that he had been trying to delete the distorted image of Turkey caused by the movie ever since he saw it. “The prisons were bad, but not the country,” he said, while adding that film is a powerful medium compared to his “little voice.”