The sounds of battle echo around the movie theatre. The dead and blood are everywhere — but the end of this film is full of joy. Control of the city of Constantinople has been wrested by the ottoman Turks from the Byzantine Empire, and as the conquering Sultan enters the church where people have taken refuge, he tells them: “My religion says you are free to practice your worshipping”.
In that spirit, the audience at a special screening of the film gave the director, and a group of actors and actresses, a standing ovation for the biggest Turkish movie ever produced, “Battle of 2 Empires – Fetih 1453”.
The film narrates the events surrounding the fall of Constantinople (today known as Istanbul) by the Ottomans during the reign of Sultan Mehmet II and will be shown across the Middle East on September 27.
Already a record-breaker in its home country with 6.5 million viewers since its debut in February this year, Battle has already covered the $18.2 million (Dh66.8 million) production cost — the highest in Turkish cinema.
“Of course, I am really very happy from the reaction, including Western people too,” the film’s director Farouk Aksoy told tabloid!. The film has been screened all over Europe.
“Epic movies work everywhere. It depends on how to produce it and how to do it,” he said.
“Especially [in] my country, the Turkish people have asked for a very long time to see their own rich and magnificent history on screen, especially the fall of Constantinople, because this historical event didn’t change [only] our history, but it [also] changed world history, politically and religiously”.
The production of the movie, with an all-Turkish cast, took three years, while the shooting lasted for six months. It took place in a 4,000 square metre studio in Istanbul and replicas of two palaces in Byzantium and Edirne — the north western city in Turkey which was the second Ottoman capital after Bursa. Istanbul became the third capital of the longest empire in history.
Three life-sized galleys were built for scenes of a sea battle, and 10,000 pieces of war equipment were produced for the movie.
Several places were especially built for the movie, including the Rumelian Fortress, as well as an armoury.
Fifteen cannon batteries and five fully-functional 20-metre war towers were also used — compared to two war towers in Kingdom of Heaven, a movie featuring the crusades of the 12th century. British and Mexican experts assisted in the production of the movie, including the sound effects, while the fighting scenes were choreographed by a team of experts from Czech Republic and Slovakia, Aksoy said.