Thursday, 1 March 2012

Turks Flock to Film Celebrating Conquest of Byzantium

These days the answer to “they don’t make ’em like that anymore” is “Conquest 1453,” the new spear-and-molten-pitch swashbuckler movie that has Turkish viewers storming their local cinemas in record-breaking numbers. It tells the story of the Ottomans’ successful siege of Constantinople through the eyes of Sultan Mehmet II, with a neat subplot about a cross-dressing female cannon maker who made victory possible.

“Conquest 1453” (or “Fetih 1453” in Turkish) is remarkable not just for its $17 million budget — which is enormous by Turkish standards — and for the size of the biceps on those thousands of extras. It’s also remarkable for the entirely unselfconscious way it celebrates war and conquest.

The film manages to combine blood and battle with a feel-good factor. We shed not a tear for the end of Byzantium. The Greeks lose the city after too many late nights spent with dancing girls. The Turks take it as a reward for their determination and faith. The film might have been pitched to the movie moguls as “Troy” meets “Starship Troopers” meets “Shakespeare in Love.”

Some argue that “Conquest 1453” strikes a chord because contemporary Turkey yearns for its past. The scenes of the pope and assorted mischievous Europeans playing both ends against the middle certainly made an impression on one former Turkish ambassador to the European Union. He tweeted: “A must-see for showing the glory of Turkish history and the games being played over today’s Turkey.”
Source: New York Times

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