Hollywood Does Istanbul

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This is the view from the grounds of the Suleyman Mosque, looking out over “New Mosque” and the Bosphorus Strait. On Sunday, I was watching the movie, Argo, and instantly recognized the shot. Plus, it says “Istanbul, Turkey” at the bottom of the screen. The next scene is walking through the doors of a mosque. I’m guessing it to be Suleyman, since they were right there. It looked a lot like this:

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Once inside, Ben Affleck’s character is meeting one of his CIA buddies to get information about his adventure into Iran. But the shots inside the building are from here:

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This is the interior of Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is a good 15 minute walk away from Suleyman. It is also a museum and not an active place of worship. In the movie, it looks like they got to skip the long lines and price of admission. Suleyman is free. But with the call to prayer happening five times per day, I’m sure filming would not be allowed.

A few other discrepancies to note are what you would see in a mosque. There is no artwork that is in the likeness of any person. So when they pan to one of the mosaics in the Hagia Sophia, it’s of Jesus. Jesus or any likeness of a human would not be in a mosque. I think the mosaic they show is one that is in the upper gallery. They’d have to go through quite a hike. When Hagia Sophia was a mosque, these mosaics were covered. In some cases, the concrete helped to preserve the mosaic. In other cases, they were damaged beyond repair. Here’s the one that I think they showed in the film.

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If they would have been in the Suleyman Mosque, the interior looks like quite different.

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And looking up…

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I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, Argo. I’m not bothered by these discrepancies. But it makes me wonder about how they make the decisions to do what they do. Why didn’t they just show the outside of Hagia Sophia if they were going to film the inside? Instead they chose to film going into a mosque and creating a backdrop that would never occur in a mosque.

Maybe it’s more than teachers that should be going through cultural competency training…

 

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