March 04, 2012

A City Under Siege


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.”

Read more on The New York Times: A City Under Siege

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