Istanbul has always been an fascinating city for filmmakers. The city has a long tradition of hosting film producers from all over the world. The fast pace of the city and richness of color and texture have always been appealing for the producers all around the world even though film production in Istanbul has it's own challenges. Here are some of the most memorable movie scenes that took place in Istanbul.
Skyfall (2012): Opening Chase Sequence
The opening sequence of 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall, takes place in Istanbul. Sequence stars with Bond in trashed room with another MI:6 agent had been shot and seemingly something has been taken from the room, a briefcase, so Bond starts his chase. Runs outside, jumps into a car and starts to chase the man who took the case across the streets of Eminonu. Unfortunately car’s blocked by some street vendors in front of The New Mosque and Spice Market but Bond takes a motorcycle and continues the case through the top of Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar which was built in the 15th century.
After one of the most iconic shot the film, Bond and the assassin crashes inside the bazaar, ride through the shops and once they’re outside they’re on the streets of Istanbul and later top of a train.
The segment after bazaar is actually filmed in another Turkish city, Adana which is 940 kilometers south of Istanbul.
From Russia with Love (1963): James Bond on the Bosporus Ferry
Another Bond movie sets in Istanbul is actually filmed almost 50 years before 2012’s Skyfall. In this film you witness the 1960s Istanbul; Karakoy, Osmanbey, historic places like The Grand Bazaar, Basilica Cistern, Sirkeci Train Station and Hagia Sofia. Although the best Istanbul scene of “From Russia with Love” is the ferry ride, even it’s a short scene; you view the two continents: Europe and Asia.
In this scene Bond meets with Tatiana the contact in the Soviet Embassy on the Bosporus and she tells secrets from the Embassy. During their meeting, the Dolmabahce and Ciragan Palaces which are located in Besiktas, are noticeable. On the Asia part, you can see the Maiden’s Tower, Uskudar and Kadikoy.
Three Monkeys (2008): View from the Family’s flat
“Three Monkeys” is the 5th feature film of Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the director of the film. The story surrounds around a troubled family, devastated by a traffic accident caused by a politician who wants to hide the facts.
This is actually not a scene, but a recurring theme, similar shots. In the film, family lives in a small flat which located in Yedikule. Yedikule is located in Fatih, the same district with Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque. But in the movie you see the side streets of Fatih not the tourist attractions. The view from the house is the Marmara Sea which is at the south end of Bosporus.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the best director prize in 61st Cannes Film Festival back in 2008. Ceylan previously won the Grand Jury Prize in 2004 with his exceptional film, “Distant”.
Head-On (2004): The Musical Perfomance Scenes
“Head-On” is a smashing hit from the German-Turkish director Fatih Akin, who earned the Golden Bear award in 2004 Berlin International Film Festival. The film is about the tormented love between Cahit (Birol Unel) and Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) who are Turkish minorities living in Germany.
The film spends half of its time in Hamburg and the other half in Istanbul, especially in the famous Taksim.
But the most iconic Istanbul scenes are actually small segments which are only a wide shot a traditional Turkish “Fasil” music band overlooking the Golden Horn and Suleymaniye Mosque.
These scenes add a unique and otherworldly flavor to a very truthful depiction of love, family relationships and being a minority in Germany.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011): Ricki Tarr in Istanbul
“Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” was adapted from the spy thriller of the same which was written by acclaimed author John Le Carré in 1974. The novel is one the best of its genre and the protagonist of the book George Smiley was always considered an anti-Bond because of the realism of the character.
The book adapted as mini-series by the BBC in 1979 which Alec Guinness played the main character, Smiley. In 2011, it was Gary Oldman time to play the iconic spymaster.
“Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” has a very complex espionage story which revolves around George Smiley’s hunt for the Russian mole in the British Secret Service. In his quest Smiley catches up with an agent, Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr.
Tarr contacts with Smiley and tells his story which connected with the mole. His story starts in Istanbul, the shots of the iconic shot of Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque which was taken from Asian part of the city. Later we see him walking through Istiklal Street where the famous Istanbul Red Tram is. After another shot of the Old City, this time shot taken from Karakoy. Tarr’s Istanbul sequence ends with Ricki and Irina’s ride through the containers in the Harem Port and tea shop close to docks.
“Tinker Tailor” was one of the well-received films of 2011 and film’s star Gary Oldman gained a best leading actor nomination in Academy Awards.