Turkish series on the Barbarossa brothers: an Indian perspective

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If you live in Turkey and grew up listening to the adventures of Ottoman Admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa, also known as Hızır Hayrettin Pasha, and his brothers, then a sea trip aboard their barque, amid the dangers posed by a maritime world of the sixteenth century, would surely excite you.

ES Film’s newest production “Barbaroslar Akdeniz’ın Kılıcı” (“Barbaros: Sword of the Mediterranean”), which began airing on TRT1 – Turkey’s first national television channel, owned by broadcaster d ‘TRT State – at the beginning of September this year, takes viewers on a historic journey through the history of the Barbarossa brothers, whose naval campaigns helped establish Ottoman supremacy in the Mediterranean.

The Barbarossa brothers, namely Oruç (Aruj), Hızır (Khizr), Ishak and Ilyas, were born as the sons of Muslim sipahi (indentured soldier) Yakup in Lesbos. Yakup was a potter and traveled on a boat to sell his wares around the island and beyond, which helped his sons learn to sail. Then the four Barbarossa brothers, “Barbarossa” being an alias for Hızır and Oruç due to their orange beards, sailed for years as sea merchants before becoming privateers in the Mediterranean. After the death of the leader of the Barbarossa corsairs, Oruç, during a Spanish attack, Hızır took the lead and became the “Kaptan-ı Derya” (chief admiral) of the Ottomans.

In a time when there were no treaties on the sharing of international waters and the country’s borders were not sacrosanct, the power of the sword reigned supreme and the powerful always prevailed. And “Barbaros: Sword of the Mediterranean”Is completely faithful to this period in its representation of the history of the Barbarossa brothers and does not cut corners.

The period drama, set in Alexandria, Lesbos (Midilli), Kalymnos and Istanbul, is written by Cüneyt Aysan, Ozan Aksungur and OÄŸuz Ayaz. Directed by DoÄŸan Ãœmit Karaca and Adeel Adeeb, the soap opera is an action-packed adventure, the episodes of which were filmed in picturesque Istanbul, itself steeped in history. The cast includes Engin Altan Düzyatan from the highly acclaimed “DiriliÅŸ: ErtuÄŸrul” (“ErtuÄŸrul Resurrection”) – a production based on the life of ErtuÄŸrul Ghazi, a brave 13th century Muslim warrior, very popular in many Asian countries, especially in Kashmir in the Indian subcontinent – UlaÅŸ Tuna Astepe, Yetkin Dikinciler and Caner Topçu as Oruç, Hızır, Ishak and Ilyas Reis respectively. The series is ranked 9 on the IMDb Movie Database website and has garnered rave reviews.

Perspectives on the history of the Barbarossa brothers

Seeing that Dr Sinan from the Turkish series “Merhaba Hayat” (“Hello Life”) had transformed into Ishak Reis, sporting a long kaftan and a big mustache, was a pleasant surprise for me. Unlike my previous experience watching Turkish series, which I caught up with many years after their initial release, “Barbaros: Sword of the Mediterranean” also introduced me to the sense of anticipation of seeing the story move forward. . YouTube and other web channels are already seeing an unprecedented number of views after airing just four episodes, with the next slated for October 14. From viewer comments, the need for good quality English subtitles is clearly evident, an issue that must be addressed immediately to maintain international audiences.

A work of fiction, the series brings to life the story of an era and place that once belonged to ruthless pirates, sailors and slave markets, providing a glimpse into life under Ottoman rule. If the representation of the massacres unleashed by the pirates is worrying, it should be remembered that this was the order of the day. An orphanage entirely dedicated to victims of pirate attacks is just one small indicator of the rampant lawlessness of this era.


Actor Yetkin Dikinciler as Ishak Reis in a photo from 'Barbaros: Sword of the Mediterranean.'
Actor Yetkin Dikinciler as Ishak Reis in a photo from “Barbaros: Sword of the Mediterranean”.

The women wielding their swords, participating in trade, and even voicing their opinions seem deliciously fictitious but may not be entirely wrong. A little research reveals that Ottoman women were in fact quite autonomous in the social, political and legal systems. They had the right to inherit, marry, divorce and even won their cases in court.

The production itself is evidence of careful study and effort that recreated the bygone era. Socially, the inflexible camels, toys made from wood and iron, the shirt and sirwal (a form of loose pants) dressed in women with a headscarf, give us a sense of medieval times. The majestic barques, barquentines and schooners sailing beautifully on the blue sea used by sailors dressed in caftans and sirwal played by the tall and handsome Turkish actors add to a picturesque narration.

Background drums that beat to the rhythm of the majestic ships swaying gracefully on the sparkling blue sea accompanied by the euphonic music of the Turkish “ney”, the maritime songs of the sailors, the rhythmic sculling of the rowers and lighted lanterns conferring a jewel-like appearance to yachts against a hazy night sky, all evoke a scene that teleports the viewer to another era. For me, it also rekindled my childhood memories of watching “Benhur” on the big screen, especially the drumbeats that bring rhythmic rowing to life. Contrary to my long-standing habit of watching all Turkish TV series on a cell phone while on the go, I decided to stream the episodes of “Barbaros: Sword of the Mediterranean” on my 40 inch living room TV and j took advantage of it with my favorite brand of crisps. It seemed like a worthy tribute to the spectacular production.

It is a common perception that TV series and movies like the Barbarossa Brothers series are only valuable as entertainment channels and have very little educational value. And yet, for students like me who may find the study of history an overwhelming task that involves remembering facts from a bygone era, these productions are a great way to rekindle their interest in history. topic. Sets and costumes are more vivid alternatives to the black and white sketches found in textbooks to help reconstruct the images in our minds. Subtitles for soap operas and movies are also a great resource for language learners.

As you watch the dramas of the time, you may realize that while the nature and extent of the uncertainties that an ordinary man faces in day to day life may have changed, we still live at the mercy of the destiny to a large extent. We can only marvel at how time changes so many things and yet human greed for power, wealth and material gain remains unchanged. Science shows us how the structure of the human brain has evolved over the years. However, this only resulted in designing better and more advanced ways to meet our endless needs even faster, not reducing our needs. I believe that true human evolution will only be achieved where there is unconditional harmony, within us and without – peaceful coexistence where there is no struggle for existence and no need to assert power. .

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