Silver screen provides a window on Istanbul’s historical venues

Silver screen provides a window on Istanbul’s historical venues

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Silver screen provides a window on Istanbul’s historical venues

A scene from ‘The Accidental Spy,’ one of the films that was made in Istanbul’s historical venues. The city is a unique visual backdrop for international filmmakers. MGM Photo

Istanbul, a city spanning two continents and the site of many civilizations throughout history, also draws attention as a unique visual backdrop for international filmmakers thanks to its cultural and historical significance.

The city, which is currently hosting filming for the latest installment of the James Bond film series, “Skyfall,” has served as the setting for many world-famous films. Istanbul has already hosted filming for other films in the James Bond series, including “From Russia with Love” and “The World is not Enough.” The 2003 Greek movie, “Politiki Kouzina” (A Touch of Spice), was also filmed in Istanbul, along with “The Accidental Spy.”

The city’s world-renowned sites, such as the Topkapı Palace Museum, Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, Eminönü, the Basilica Cistern, Beyazıt and many other locations in the city have drawn a long list of filmmakers.

Films make promotion of the city

Anatolia news agency recently complied a list of a few films which have made great contributions to Istanbul’s international promotion.

‘Istanbul’ (1957): Directed by Hoseph Pevney, the film stars Errol Flynn, Cornell Borchers and Nat King Cole and tells the story of a suspected diamond smuggler who returns to Istanbul and finds that the lady love he thought was dead is actually alive.

‘From Russia with Love’ (1963): The second film in the James Bond series, and one of the most popular, was made during a time when the effects of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union were felt the most. In the film, which stars Sean Connery as 007, Bond is sent to assist in the defection of Soviet consulate clerk Tatiana Romanova in Turkey. The settings of the film included Istanbul’s Beyazıt, Sulukule and Basilica Cistern.

‘Topkapı’ (1964): Directed by Jules Dussin and starring Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov and Maximilian Schell, the film’s plot centers on a group of thieves who devise a plan to steal the emerald-encrusted dagger of Sultan Mahmud I from the Topkapı Palace. Filmed almost entirely in Istanbul, the city plays a major role in the film.

‘Hamam’ (1997): The film was the directorial debut of renowned Turkish filmmaker Ferzan Özpetek, who lives in Italy. The main character, Francesco, travels to Istanbul in the film to try and sell property she inherits after her aunt passes away. When Francesco discovers the property includes a derelict hamam (a Turkish bath) he instead decides to restore the hamam and reopen it to the public. The film is set in the Beyoğlu district.

‘The World Is Not Enough’ (1998): The 19th film of the James Bond series, directed by Michael Apted and starring Pierce Brosnan as Bond, revolves around the assassination of billionaire Sir Robert King by the terrorist Renard. Bond is assigned to protect King’s daughter, Elektra, who was previously held for ransom by Renard. While on assignment, Bond foils a scheme to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown in the waters of Istanbul.

‘The Accidental Spy’ (2001): This Hong Kong martial arts film stars Jackie Chan and was directed by Teddy Chan. It tells the story of Bei, a salesman at a workout equipment store who harbors dreams of adventure. He follows his instincts to trail two suspicious-looking men into an alley. When he realizes that the men are robbing a jewelry store, he jumps into action to foil their plans. Later, he sets on his quest to fulfill his dreams of adventure and fortune, traveling to Korea and Istanbul. Many Turkish artists, models and stuntmen acted in the Turkish scenes of the film.

‘Politiki Kouzina’ (A Touch of Spice - 2003): A Greek-Turkish movie directed by Tassos Boulmetis and starring Georges Corraface, Ieroklis Michaelidis, Tamer Karadağlı and Başak Köklükaya. The film is a story about a young Greek boy growing up in Istanbul, whose grandfather, a culinary philosopher and mentor, teaches him that both food and life require a little salt to give them flavor. The film’s settings include Istanbul’s Kadıköy, Haydarpaşa and Sirkeci neighborhoods. The film was a Greek entry in the Academy Awards.

‘The International’ (2009): Directed by Tom Tykwer, “The International” stars big-name actors such as Clive Owen, Naomi Watts and Haluk Bilginer. In the film an Interpol agent attempts to expose a high-profile financial institution’s role in an international arms dealing ring. The films locations include Lyon, Milan, Berlin, Istanbul and New York.