Reflections of 'new Turkey' in historical drama 'Kara Murat'

The differences between the new Kara Murat in ?Fatih?s Guard Kara Murat,? designed for the ?new Turkey,? and the original outweigh the similarities, if there are any.

Ottoman heroism is a regular fixture in Turkish cinema, rising from its ashes every couple of decades or so. And what better time to come back to life than when Turkey?s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is unabashedly advocating neo-Ottomanism for a ?new Turkey?? The recent release ?Fatih?in Fedaisi Kara Murat? (Fatih?s Guard Kara Murat), directed by Aytekin Birkon, is the latest example to go with the neo-Ottomanism flow, adding a dash of neo-bullying along the way.

The film is a half-baked attempt at reviving the 1970s? cinematic hero Kara Murat, which in turn was an adaptation of the original comic books, created by artist Abdullah Turhan and writer Rahmi Turan, and first published in 1971 in the daily Günayd?n. The ?Fatih? in the name means the ?Conqueror,? referring to the Ottoman emperor Mehmed II, who conquered Constantinople and put an end to the Byzantine Empire.

The hero of the comic books was a rogue fighter, bringing justice to the Ottoman court, and the enemy of the Byzantines. With his jet-black hair and mustache, he charmed his way into the beds of many Byzantine women. In the seven movie adaptations between 1972 and 1978, he was played by Cüneyt Ark?n, an actor already popular in historical dramas with his rugged looks and elaborate stunts.

The early centuries of the Ottoman Empire proved to be a popular setting for Turkish cinema time and time again, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. The Byzantine Empire provided the ideal villains for these nationalist movies that didn?t much care for historical accuracy. Turkish nationalist comic books, like Kara Murat, Karao?lan and Battal Gazi, were all adapted to screen one after the other.

A creativity splurge dominated Turkish cinema during that period when...

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