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Midnight Express (1978)

Brad Davis , Irene Miracle , Alan Parker , William Riead  |  R |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins, Paolo Bonacelli, Paul L. Smith
  • Directors: Alan Parker, William Riead
  • Writers: Billy Hayes, Oliver Stone, William Hoffer
  • Producers: Alan Marshall, David Puttnam, Peter Guber
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Surround Sound, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 2, 2004
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767817486
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,990 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Midnight Express" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Featurette

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Brad Davis (The Player, Chariots of Fire) and John Hurt (Contact, Alien) star in this riveting truestory of a young American's nightmarish experiences in a Turkish prison and his unforgettable journey to freedom. Busted for attempting to smuggle hashish out of Istanbul, American college student Billy Hayes (Davis) is thrown into the city's most brutal jail. After suffering through four years of sadistic torture and inhuman conditions, Billy is about to be released when his parole is denied. Only his inner courage and the support of a fellow inmate (Hurt) give him the strength to catch the MIDNIGHT EXPRESS ... and escape his living hell.

Amazon.com

Forever embroiled in controversy, Midnight Express divides viewers into opposing camps: those who think it's one of the most intense real-life dramas ever made, and those who abhor its manipulative tactics and alteration of facts for the exploitative purpose of achieving a desired effect. That effect is powerfully achieved, regardless of how you may feel about director Alan Parker and Oscar®-winning screenwriter Oliver Stone's interpretation of the story of Billy Hayes. It was the American Hayes--played by the late Brad Davis in an unforgettable performance--who was caught smuggling two kilograms of hashish while attempting to board a flight from Istanbul, Turkey, in 1970. He was sentenced to four years in a hellish Turkish prison on a drug possession charge, but his sentence was later extended (though not by 30 years, as the film suggests), and Hayes endured unthinkable brutality and torture before his escape in 1975.

Unquestionably, this is a superbly crafted film, provoking a visceral response that's powerful enough to boil your blood. By the time Hayes erupts in an explosion of self-defensive violence, Parker and Stone have proven the power--and danger--of their skill. Their film is deeply manipulative, extremely xenophobic, and embellishes reality to heighten its calculated impact. Is that a crime? Not necessarily, and there's no doubt that Midnight Express is expertly directed and blessed with exceptional supporting performances (especially from John Hurt as a long-term prisoner). Still, it's obvious that strings are being pulled, and Parker, while applying his talent to a nefarious purpose, is a masterful puppeteer. --Jeff Shannon


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray
It's about never giving up hope.

The 1978 film "MIDNIGHT EXPRESS" was a film that was known for its controversial story but also seen as a film masterpiece as it was the first major film to depict foreigners inhumane treatment in prison and it was brought alive due to the awesome performance by actor Brad Davis ("Chariots of Fire", "Roots") and a film directed by Alan Parker ("Bugsy Malone", "Pink Floyd the Wall", "Fame", "Evita" and "Angela's Ashes") and a screenplay by Oliver Stone ("Platoon", "JFK", "Natural Born Killers", "The Doors" and "Alexander"). The film would also feature the talents of composer Giorgio Moroder ("Flashdance", "Scarface" and "Over the Top") and cinematography by Michael Seresin ("Fame", "Angela's Ashes", "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Step Up").

"MIDNIGHT EXPRESS" would be nominated for seven Academy Awards and won an Academy Award for "Best Music", "Original Score", "Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium".

But what caught attention was that the film was based on a true story of Billy Hayes who was convicted for smuggling hash and sentenced to four years in a Turk prison where he and many people were tortured. To make matters worse, he became a scapegoat to prevent foreigners from even thinking of smuggling drugs in the country by having his sentenced overturned and giving him a life sentence.

Hayes book "Midnight Express" details his life behind bars and the inhumane treatment that he and others received in prison and eventually how he escaped from the prison.
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47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rivetting performance from Brad Davis December 21, 2003
By William
Format:DVD
Many reviewers ridicule the method used to try and smuggle the drugs in this movie, but back in the early 1970's (when the film was based) these kind of methods actually took place. Yes, people are stupid for doing these things ... but it's hard not to have compassion for them when they are served lifetime sentences.
"Midnight Express" explores one man's time in a hellish Turkish prison. The tension of being caught and then beaten in prison are so well captured that you almost don't want to look. One scene that comes to mind is when Davis is hung upside down and beaten so bad, you can almost feel it.
Davis performance is exceptional, yet did not give him the career you'd expect. An excellent actor, who died at the age of 41.
The DVD itself is excellent too. An impressive widescreen transfer, plus a full screen option thrown in for people who dont know the value of widescreen (ie. a pointless inclusion in my opinion). The DVD also boasts a 1978 documentary of the film, and a trailer.
A must own! One of the best prison films to date, along with "Shawshank Redemption".
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most disturbing, yet powerful films September 21, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This movie brings us into the terror that William Hayes experienced in a Turkish prison in the early seventies after attempting to smuggle hash from that country. I know after the book was published, it caused radical changes in the Turkish prison system and Turkey released many foreign nationals from incarceration. We cannot compare the Turkey of the early 1970's to the Turkey of today, which is a modern cosmopolitan environment.
I think the movie wouldn't have the same affect with a lesser actor than the enormously talented, under-appreciated and late Brad Davis as William Hayes. I found that he had a boy-like innocence, and I was compelled to feel very protective of him, despite his drug smuggling. He has some Oscar caliber performances, in particular one where he goes into a pathological rage and bites the tongue off of another inmate. I have never seen such monumental fury like that on film. Another scene that gripped me was his bitter statement before the Turkish court as he is being sentenced to 30 years. Through Brad Davis, you feel this young man’s hopes, fears, anguish, terror, and rage – the entire spectrum of emotion. You know an actor is powerful, when it only takes the look in his eyes to affect your senses. After this film came out, I was waiting for Davis to get bigger and better roles, why he didn't is baffling to me. John Hurt was actually nominated for an Oscar for this film, although he was very good, his performance could not touch that of Davis.
Alan Parker deserves much credit to for his direction. The scenes in this film range from beautiful with the glorious mosques of the Ottoman Empire against the Turkish sky in the opening scene, to dark and grey as pathos sets in on our main character. Oliver Stone has a screenplay which sets the tone.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Movie deviates from book August 4, 2005
Format:DVD
I feel the movie does some good. It doesn't deny that the main charector was wrong for what he did. Remember, back in 1970, there was a more cavilier attitude towards drugs and he was dealing with the original 4 year prison sentence appropriately. But being beaten, tortured and imprisoned in a foriegn country, with limited contact with family and freinds is going to be traumatic for anyone, and the movie dispays that well.

With that said, however, I think the movie deviates WAY too much from the book. The escape first-handedly described in the book is much more fascinating and would have been better to see than the movies deviation. The ommision of some the amnesties to prisoners makes the movie fall short as well.

The movie gets the basic point of the book across, but the impact could have been stronger if it just followed the story as laid out by the first hand recollection of it.
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