Morocco World News
Fez, April 27, 2012
Throughout the history of cinema, there were several actors and actresses who succeeded in transferring the complexities of a given personality; Elizabeth Taylor in her famous role of Cleopatra, Cate Blanchett in the role of Elizabeth I, Meryl Streep in the role of Margaret Thatcher among others.
The Turkish cinema is no exception; it has proved to be a rich and vivid industry with its fantastic setting – especially with historic movies – its competitive producers, its suddenly widespread throughout the world. It’s especially known in the Arab world and is famous for being a cinema with new innovative themes, which substituted the Egyptian movies predictable themes in Arab channels.
As we know, the Arab world is witnessing the mass spread of Turkish movies in its channels since the apparent success of ‘Gumus’ or ‘Noor,’ as it was translated. These days, channels are broadcasting the sop-opera ‘Muhte?em Yüzy?l’ or ‘Hürrem Sultan’ that depicts an important era within the Ottoman Empire that is the Era of Sultan Sulayman the Great, one of the remarkable sultans of the Ottoman dynasty.
Sultan Sulayman was the tenth Ottoman sultan. He came after his father Sultan Selim I to carry on the mission of conquering Europe and Asia with the aim of spreading the religion of Islam. Inspired by Alexander the Great, Sultan Sulayman succeeded in making his Empire one of the leading, outshining empires in history. With the spread of Islam in every spot conquered, the Islamic and Ottoman culture were spread also, creating out of Europe, Asia and the northern part of Africa a cultural mosaic of Islamic, Christian and local architecture, art, traditions and customs.
The serial describes the life of a harem that consists of the queen’s mother (sultana or Sultan’s mother), the sultana sister, his wife; the first legal wife the sultan has, in addition to his harem.
The story starts with a group of Ukrainian and Russian women sold as slaves to the Ottoman castle by the Tatars. One of them, with a unique beauty, a witty mind and an optimistic ambitious view of the future was given a golden opportunity to dance in front of the Sultan. Once chosen to share his bed, she made a life decision to benefit as much as possible from the occasion and thwart the plans of her other competitor, the legal wife of the sultan, to win the sultan’s heart forever. Eventually, she had what she longed for; she gave birth to five children from the Sultan, one of them became Sultan Selim II, she became his legal wife, friend, advisor and supporter in his old age.
Till now, the story seems a fairy tale; however the sultan’s picture wasn’t given enough value as he was remembered as one of the great Ottoman sultans. In the Serial, the sultan is a charming loving person who seized every opportunity to raise jealousy of both his legal wife and his harem. A loving father who wouldn’t make any distinction between his children, whether from the first wife or the second, but who would fail to be just to his wives.
Generally speaking, the serial devoted much time to the sultan’s private life and harem’s rivalry in time the serial’s title’s translation ‘The magnificent century’ gives the audience the assumption that it would describe the period of the glory of Islamic conquests to Europe and Asia. What the audience actually saw was a sultan unable to rule his harem adequately. From a side, he was unable to contradict the Sultana’s mother’s advice on state and harem issues. From another, his own devotion to his beloved whom he thought he should defend, be it the subject of troubles in the harem, even thought he wasn’t aware of it at the time.
Moviemakers worldwide are leaping at the opportunity to make profit on the expenses of historical facts. Normally, a producer or a movie sponsor should foretell the audience’s reaction on a serial that was supposed to be a biography of a personality that had a weight in history. After the serial is released, commercialized, translated and viewed by millions of viewers from different nationalities, all they would remember now about a Sultan like Sulayman, who was compared to Alexander the Great in many references, was that he was a Don Juan of his time, who succeeded in making European princesses fall for him, playing with his harem’s feelings to promote jealousy among his lovers in the harem, falling himself in the trouble of loving one of them, then submitting to her desires to break centuries of Ottoman traditional laws.
Haajar Boutafi is a Moroccan high school teacher of English. She obtained her B.A. degree from Chouaib Doukkali University in El Jadida and is currently pursuing an M.A in Applied Linguistics and Research in Higher Education in Sidi Mohamed ben Abdellah University in Fes. In 2007, she was chosen as a participant in the NESA Undergraduate Program Sponsored by the departments of States and George Town University visiting Greenville Community College in Greenville, South Carolina. While in the US, she studied political science, foreign affairs and psychology, as well as research on the religious diversity of South Carolina ;Greenville in particular as a case study.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved