I stumbled across the Turkish made film “Resurrection: Ertugrul” when I was looking for something to watch on Netflix. I am so glad I clicked the “play” button. I don’t know why I did. But that night I didn’t go to sleep at all. I watched episode after episode because I couldn’t wait til the next day to find out the next part of the story.
“The stories and characters here were inspired by our history” is written at the beginning of each episode – I liked that I was educating myself while entertaining myself! And I think the series or the story was written by 3 professors (someone can correct me on this if I am wrong).
At the time I did not realise there are actually 5 series in the film!! A total of 464 episodes! Had I known at the beginning I would have paced myself a little better. Instead I binge watched until the very end – every night and as many day time hours as I could justify.
There is so much I liked about this film – but first, why am I recommending you watch it? Most of what I write here is about Egypt and this is a Turkish film, set in the 12th century, that centers around a hero called Ertugrul, son of Sulyiman Shah, chief of a nomadic tribe. It is because by the end of the film I had a greater appreciation for the history of Egypt. There is so much more to Egypt than the Pharaohs and Cleopatra.
While not directly related to Egypt – there is not even a mention of Egypt in the film. Ertugrul was the father of Osman and Osman was the founder of the Ottoman Empire. But it wasn’t until the 16th century – 1517AD that the Ottomans conquered Egypt by overthrowing the Mamluks.
In the series there is a famous Sufi named Ibn Al Arabi and much of my liking for the movie centers around him. He is a calm, fearless, white-bearded old wise man. At times he seems to have magical powers and always seems to pop up just when needed – either Ertugrul needs some advice or support or someone is seriously in need of healing. Many times he comes to Ertugrul in his dreams.
Apart from Ibn Al Arabi there are 2 – 3 other men in the series who tell stories to the children and remind the adults of their muslim heritage and the teachings of Muhamed the Prophet. I find those teachings very much in keeping with what I have learned myself over my years in Egypt – what Ibn Al Arabia speaks of is very much a way of life here among ordinary people.
Sulyman Shah and his sons (Ertugrul is not the only son) are caught between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. To the West the foreign Templars and rulers of Constantinople are ravaging all before them. To the East are the Mongol sons of Ghengis Khan. Sulyman Shah’s Kiyi tribe and other nomadic tribes are caught in the middle.
What would a story be without some romance? Ertugrul is a charismatic guy played by actor Engin Altan Duzyatan, who sticks to his principles and the traditions of his people. Tradition and faith govern everything for him – they are his guide, especially when it comes to making the most difficult decisions. And his judgements on both family and foe are in accordance with both – always. When his own son or best companions make a bad mistake or fail in their tasks, he deals with them as he would anyone else.
The other notable personality trait that is constant in the character of Ertugrul is that he never loses his head – regardless of what is going on around him or in his personal life, what upset, pain, injury or crisis he is experiencing he always keeps his eye steady on the bigger picture and his target.
You could say that if you enjoy watching the “Outlander” series based on scottish hero Jamie Fraser and his english sweetheart Claire Randall, then “Resurrection: Ertugrul” is the Eastern version and Ertugrul is Jamie’s twin in every way (except there are no naked or sexual scenes), just good 0ld-fashioned love and romance 🙂
The story is not entirely always specifically about Ertugrul, but also his brothers, his family and his closest companions. It has many aspects and I will definitely be sitting down sometime to re-watch the entire series again – but next time I will savour it at a more leisurely pace.
I never tired looking at the costumes, the head-dress worn by the women (all unique), the tents, their carpets and their furnishings. Some of the jewellery and head-dress decoration is not unlike the bedouin jewellery we see in Egypt. The women in the story are well able to take care of themselves when it comes to fending off attackers – they all wear a dagger in their belt and are also excellent when it comes to wielding a sword.
Having finished watching the series I did some more research. This, in part, led me to Mohamed Ali, also known as “the founder of modern Egypt” who began ruling Egypt in 1805 on behalf of the Ottoman Empire and continued til 1848, a year before his death. I became so caught up in the amazing personal stories of his family and descendants that I ended up with photos of most of them now covering the walls of our “Mohamed Ali Lounge” at Mara House.
So, I highly recommend the series “Resurrection: Ertugrul” which is available on Netflix. It’s also on YouTube – not sure if all of it on YouTube or not. The story is so enthralling I did not even mind having to use the english subtitles as the audio is in Turkish. If you are planning on visiting Egypt at some time, you should find your visit even more interesting for having watched this film – you will have a deeper understanding for Egypt and it’s traditions as well as its people and the religion of Islam.