What could I do? I’m writing a novel set up in 1453 Constantinople during the siege and the months following so, naturally, I had to see this movie, which amazingly enough, and as far as I have been able to trace, is the only existing super production about the event.
Supposedly the script uses the so called “plausibility hypothesis”, that is, you take historical facts and characters and enhance their dully official lives as they interact either punctually or steadily with the adventures of a bunch of much more interesting fictional (or semi fictional) characters for whose development and creation the writer is completely free. Within such a scheme conflict develops in two different levels (factional and fictional) and there’s also a secondary level of interrelated transaction between fact and fiction.
I saw this system to reach absolute perfection, in my humble opinion, of course, in the series “ROME” (HBO) where we are presented with the ups and downs of two absolutely charming characters: Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo as they are key contributors to the rise and fall of Julius Caesar and Octavian Augustus.
Back to Fetih 1453, I can only say that this objective has not been reached. The movie aims from the very beginning at justifying the sultan’s move to take Constantinople both in prophecy and in destiny of the Turk nation as a whole. At a secondary level, the story of this slave girl who bears a grudge against Christianity, because the crusaders massacred her family and so she prefers Hasan over Giustiniani is too far-fetched for my poor understanding of heart matters.
Giustiniani and Hasan, the heroes of Christians and Muslims respectively, are interchangeable at a practical level. They both look like hairdressing models rather than war captains and their handling of the swords is pathetic. For god’s sake, sword fighting just wasn’t like that and any Japanese five-year-old with a few aikido lessons could beat these two gorgeously inefficient exemplars of the male of our species.
Poor emperor Constantine bears the worst part. He appears as little more than a cockroach, ugly, mean and despicable in his dwarfish depiction. His speech at the hippodrome includes a ludicrous mention to St Theodora, known for her abilities at pleasuring several men at the same time before meeting emperor Justinian. The hippodrome wasn’t like that anymore and Byzantine people didn’t gather in those premises anymore, the imperial palace wasn’t there anymore but in the Blachernae area. Nothing was like it’s depicted in this fabulous invention.
Mehmet, of course, is the triumphant figure in the movie; a man driven by his destiny. He’s no tyrant but a wise ruler who is tolerant, kind and respectful with the Christians. No looting, no massacres, no slaves, no rape scenes, no impalements of Italians in the shores of Galata but many hanging of Turks in the land walls. Come on! Of course Mehmet is a poet and writes love poems to his wife, not to his missing lover Radu the Handsome.
The Greek plebeians take their icons in processions that have ominous endings while their patrician rulers celebrate every day they hold the siege by partying at night, listening to profane music and being served by knockout blondes wearing miniskirts. Hello, beauts! I am seriously considering switching from agnosticism to Orthodoxy.
Well, my friends, the best I can say about this movie is that according to chroniclers from every side, this is not the way things happened. As individuals wanting to get some knowledge of history we are deceived once again and only those in search of national Ottoman pride will be satisfied with this pack of semi lies, half-truths and innumerable interested omissions. It’s a good propaganda job and I’m not surprised that the Greek are so upset at this dubious piece of art. Special effects are forgettable and depictions of Constantinople, as the ruined wonderful city it once was, (the main reason that induced me to watch the movie) are simply inexistent.
A good movie about Constantinople 1453 is still to be made. Why not taking my book as a starting point for the script? It’s just a suggestion. It’ll be ready in the summer, I hope. There’ll be more about this soon.