Considering it took place some 500 years ago, the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 feels like it happened only yesterday -- at least in Istanbul. In recent years, an Ottoman history magazine titled "1453" has been introduced, a municipal museum called "Panorama 1453" has opened, and increasingly lavish commemorations and reenactments of the Ottomans' victory over the Byzantines are being put on.
But now the mother of all tributes is here, with the premier today of a $17 million big-screen Turkish production (actually, the country's most expensive film ever) that tells the story of the conquest. Perhaps not surprisingly in a place where 500 years is just a blip in time, the movie, simply called "Conquest 1453," is already leading to some controversy. From the Wall Street Journal's report on 1453 (the film):
With directors promising a two-and-half hour spectacle of blood, action and tub-thumping Ottoman triumph, it’s also shaping up to be one of Turkey’s more controversial cinematic offerings.
Even before the film’s release, the trailer, screened in January, appeared to enrage some Greeks. The preview was met with consternation by Greek weekly To Proto Thema, which reported that “Turkish invaders are presented as the masters of the world… (The director) Faruk Aksoy fails to show important historical events such as looting and mass slaughter of Greeks.”
The film’s potential to cause further controversy is difficult to ascertain. The production company has been secretive about the movie, refusing to show previews to critics ahead of general release. But social media platforms have been abuzz with heated comments from Turkish and Greek users attempting to laud or decry the movie’s portrayal or events.
Spokeswoman of the film’s production company, Aksoy Film, insisted the movie is “historically accurate” and that the portrayal of events and the movie setting was reviewed by an advisory team of Turkish historians.
While the film's producers have refused to preview the movie, they have released a pulse-raising trailer (below) that makes it fairly clear that the film, with its mix of battle field action and Ottoman triumphalism, is very likely to conquer Turkish box offices.