How often does it happen to fall in love with a country known through a film? Maybe it’s the easiest way to travel and dream. It is precisely the films that make you want to leave and go to that place that you knew so little until yesterday. In this article dedicated to the history of cinema in Turkey, we offer you a selection of 10 films to discover Turkey and its facets. We will also tell you more about the history of films shot in Turkey.
Top 10 Films shot in Turkey
What emerges most from the films shot in Turkey is the directors’ appreciation for its Middle Eastern characteristics. In this section of cinema dedicated to Turkey, however, we want to show you it under different aspects. Whether you have already been there or are planning a trip to Turkey, in this article you will discover the most historical and traditional aspects, but also western and modern ones. Let’s start!
Once upon a time in Anatolia
This film shot in Turkey will involve you in a very long drive through Anatolia. The plot of the film revolves around the search for a murder victim. It will be the suspected murderer who will lead the team of policemen in the search for the body, among the arid steppes of central Anatolia.
Winner of the 2011 Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, despite its dramatic nature, the protagonists’ journey by car conveys that feeling of freedom that only a road trip can give. To better understand what we are talking about, try to take a look at the 10 On the Road Trips in Europe recommended for Summer 2021.
Crossing the Bridge, the sound of Istanbul
The film looks like a journey in several ways. Not only because the protagonist ventures to Istanbul, but also a musical journey, the search for inspiration, personal enrichment. There are many ideas that you can draw from this film shot in Turkey. The story tells of the composer Alexander Hacke and the trip he made to Turkey before writing the soundtrack for the film The Turkish Bride. This film from Turkey will guide you through the different local music scenarios. But above all, it will make you listen to the most authentic sound of the city of Istanbul, that of everyday life.
In Turkey traditional musical instruments are a real treat, you might consider buying one as a souvenir from Turkey.
The Turkish bath – Hamam
A film shot in Turkey that speaks of rebirth. In fact, the protagonist is the architect Francesco, with a marriage in crisis, who inherits property in Istanbul. The latter part, and finding himself in front of a hamam, after the first moment of hesitation decides to give the structure a second chance.
What he does not imagine is how much this possibility he is giving it, in truth, above all to himself. Welcomed with open arms by splendid Istanbul and far from his old life, Francis finds serenity, even rediscovering love. A romantic-dramatic film shot in Turkey that is as beautiful as it is intense.
This time no film shot in Turkey, but a Turkish TV series by Netflix. The series is inspired by the book Karakalem ve Bir Delikanlının Tuhaf Hikayesi , by the writer İpek Gökdel . The protagonist of the story is Hakan, a boy who finds his destiny intertwined with that of the splendid Istanbul. It is up to him to protect the city from the immortal enemies that threaten it.
Will Hakan succeed in his quest to save Istanbul? The TV series is currently stopped in its third season, but the platform has already announced the release of a fourth. If you haven’t already devoured it, you just have to catch up!
A film set in Turkey in 2017. Orhan is a writer who returns to Istanbul after twenty years to correct the draft of an autobiographical book, written by director Deniz Soysal. The writer will soon find himself alone to confront what is written in the book.
He will get somehow involved and trapped in the director’s life. Even in this example of Turkish cinema, the story has a dramatic background. Nonetheless, retracing the lives of the protagonists will lead us to discover the beautiful Istanbul.
This film is a piece of Turkish cinema history, dated 1999. A story with a dramatic historical tone that shows us the Istanbul of that time. Concubine Safiyé, with the complicity of eunuch Nadir, devises a plan to become the sultan’s favorite. Despite the attraction felt by the two boys, Safiyé manages to become the wife and then mother of the son of Sultan Abdulhamit.
This idyll, however, does not last long, the sultan is exiled and the entire harem closed. So Safiyé, having lost all privileges, returns to Italy where he tells his story. This film contains many historical references, to better understand it we recommend reading our article Turkey History.
Taken – Revenge
A gripping action film shot in France, Turkey, and the USA. Since this is the sequel to “I will find you”, some events have already begun. In fact, the plot of this second chapter develops around revenge. Bryan and his wife are kidnapped while in Istanbul.
Will Kim, the couple’s daughter, be able to save her parents? This film partially shot in Turkey and released in 2012, shows a more modern and current Istanbul than the previous examples. Even if the plot of the film is very dynamic, try to focus on Turkish settings.
Another cinema masterpiece is Midnight Escape. Film winner of two Academy Awards, one for writing and the other for the soundtrack. A film set in Turkey, but entirely shot in Malta, as Turkey refused permission to shoot the film. Only the opening scenes were actually shot in Istanbul, pretending they were for a commercial.
The story is set in Turkey in 1970 when the police carried out strict controls due to recent terrorist attacks. The young protagonist William is found in possession of drugs and sentenced to 4 years. So, following various events, he decides to try to escape.
Skyfall – 007
For an evening full of adrenaline in the company of 007, watching the film Skyfall is highly recommended. The charming secret agent continues to keep us glued to the screen with his exciting adventures.
But what does James Bond have to do with films shot in Turkey? Perhaps not everyone knows that the initial thrilling chase of the Skyfall film is set in Istanbul. Several scenes in fact show the Hippodrome Square, near the Blue Mosque.
At the bottom of our list of films shot in Turkey, we find Argo. Reading this title may generate astonishment, as the events seem to take place in Iran. The shooting, however, never touched Iran, but took place between the United States and Turkey. The Iranian scenes, therefore, actually show Istanbul. Argo is a 2012 film, directed and starring Ben Affleck, inspired by a true story.