Finally this week I went to see the latest highly anticipated James Bond movie Skyfall, and yes having lived under a rock regarding all things Mr. Bond (Daniel Craig) and unaware my hometown played host to 007 and his fellow MI6 agent Eve (Naomie Harris), albeit briefly, in the opening sequence of the film.
In explaining the reason behind choosing Istanbul as the location for the opening sequence, Sam Mendes replies (in the video below) “It is the most magnificent place, it is an incredible city.”
Seeing the wild goose chase between Bond and his target on the rooftops and down the alleyways of the Grand Bazaar against the backdrop of the Blue Mosque was sheer delight which got me not only wondering just how priceless this 5-minute Bond-sealed promo was but also thinking about other films – Turkish and international – which to date have featured my hometown as their backdrop.
“The pearl of the Middle East; the jewel of the Dardanelles” is how the 1964 heist movie, also considered the daddy of all heist movies, described Istanbul. But the movie and the merry band of criminals Maximilian Schell, Peter Ustinov, Robert Morley and Melina Mercouri were less concerned with pearls and jewels and more concerned about stealing emerald-encrusted dagger of the hunchback Sultan Mahmud I from the Topkapi palace museum.
What is Istanbul without its bridges – physical and metaphorical, bridging two continents, diverse cultures, and kaleidoscopic colours and sounds of the city… And in the 2005 documentary Crossing the Bridge, Fatih Akin sets out to capture the sound of Istanbul kicking off at the Grand Hotel Londres in Beyoğlu and taking us through the alleyways, late night dives, panoramic sky shots into the very heart of the city.
Not one but two movies in one year with a car chase at the Grand Bazaar. Seems as if the crew of Skyfall and Taken 2 have swapped notes on how to use the rooftops to best scenic effect. In Taken 2, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage in Istanbul by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter.
“The sense of character and history was really incredible” actress Maggie Grace says, speaking of location shoots, while it sounds as if Liam Neeson is taken by the views from the rooftops “where you see the city laid in front of you.”
And time to cheat a little, as my last choice is not a feature film, but it is so breathtakingly beautiful in cinematography, it captures in full forces the romance of historic Istanbul and the beauty of the contemporary city in two and a bit minutes, and leaves you craving for more. We’re talking about 2009 Chanel No 5 mini movie starring Tautou directed by Amelie filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
The advert follows the actress as she keeps chancing across a handsome stranger, played by model Travis Davenport, en route from Paris to Istanbul aboard the Orient Express.The soundtrack Billie Holiday’s “I’m A Fool To Want You” is equally powerful.by