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Fetih 1453 Istanbul conquered yet again on the big screen

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The most eagerly anticipated Turkish movie of the year, “Fetih 1453” (The Conquest 1453), finally hit movie theaters on Thursday.

The first showing of the film, which opened in 134 theaters across Turkey, started exactly at 14:53 in the afternoon (2:53 p.m.) in all theaters.

Having been in production for more than two years, the release of “The Conquest 1453” raised the level of anticipation among movie fans in Turkey. Directed by Faruk Aksoy, the film is also notable for its budget, which at $17 million makes it the most expensive film made in the history of Turkish cinema.

“The Conquest 1453” is billed to be a first in many aspects of Turkish cinema, including the technology employed in filming as well as its huge budget, yet the film is not a first for Turkey story-wise.

In 1951, some 61 years ago, Turkish cinema had its first conquest-of-Istanbul story on the silver screen: “Istanbul’un Fethi” (The Conquest of Constantinople). Written and directed by Ayd?n Arakon and produced by Murat Köseoglu, the film starred Sami Ayanoglu as Sultan Mehmet II, Turan Seyfioglu as Ulubatl? Hasan, Re?it Gurzap as Candarl? Halil Pasha, Cahit Irgat as Emperor Constantine and Sait Ya?makl? as Molla Gurani.

That movie unquestionably cannot be compared with the new film, considering all the technological improvements that have occurred in the last six decades. Yet, it was still the most expensive movie made in Turkey at the time. The black-and-white film, until Thursday, was also Turkey’s first and only epic movie to depict the conquest of Istanbul.

The new film focuses on battle scenes and is remarkable for its visual effects. It stars Devrim Evin as Sultan Mehmet II and Ibrahim Celikkol as Ulubatl? Hasan in its two leading roles.

“The Conquest 1453” is sure to leave its mark on Turkish cinema with its visual quality that raises the bar to the level of Hollywood standards.

Production of ‘Fetih 1453’ in figures

Production work began on the movie in April 2009 and lasted for about three years.

The first leg of filming was done in a 4,000-square-meter studio. A 40-member team of designers and animators worked on 3D replicas of the Byzantium and Edirne palaces, where parts of the story are set. Filming in this first round lasted for four weeks.

The second leg of filming was done in the northwestern city of Edirne, in the Bayezid II mosque complex, and lasted for six weeks.

The third round of filming started in May 2010 in Istanbul’s Ataköy quarter in a historic gunpowder mill. A 14,600-square-meter area in the quarter was turned into a huge open-air movie set that featured replicas of such structures as a bazaar, a historic harbor, churches, a cannonball factory, etc. The set was built in seven months. Life-size replicas of cannons and part of the Rumeli Hisar? were among the most remarkable replicas built for the movie.

Sixteen wooden houses and a mosque were built to be used in a 20-second piece of footage of a village that is used in flashback sequences to depict the past of the character Era. The village was built in two months.

The final leg of filming solely focused on the battleground, the set for which took 10 months to prepare. A huge open-air set was built over a 100,000-square-meter area near the basin of the Alibeyköy Dam in Istanbul’s Alibeyköy district. The set featured replicas of Istanbul’s streets, the streets of Medina, underground tunnels dug during times of war, the battleground, the city walls of Istanbul, etc.

Three life-sized galleys were built for scenes of a sea battle.

Over 10,000 pieces of war equipment of various types and accessories were produced for use as props in the movie along with 20 life-size observation towers and five big trebuchets that are each 15 meters tall.

A total of 15,000 extras took part in the movie.

The film’s main cast members took horse-riding and fencing lessons. Twenty tailors made the costumes for the movie using 44,000 meters of fabric.

A total of 250 horses and 40 water buffalos were used in the movie.

The fighting scenes were choreographed by a team of experts from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

‘Fetih 1453’

(The Conquest 1453)

Directed by: Faruk Aksoy

 Genre: history

Cast: Devrim Evin,

Ibrahim Celikkol, Dilek Serbest, Recep Aktug

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