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The End of the Ottoman Empire - Part 1
Directed by Mathilde Damoisel
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For six centuries, the Ottomans, named after the Osman dynasty in Turkey, ruled over three continents and seven seas: in Eastern Europe, from Vienna to Crimea, all around the Black Sea and the Caucasus; in Mesopotamia; in Arabia, from Cairo to Aden; in the Mediterranean, from Greece to Alexandria...

A great power, home to an unprecedented mosaic of peoples and faiths, the Empire controlled the Holy Places of Islam, Christianity and Judaism-yet would collapse in less than a century.

From 1830, when Greece won its independence, until 1923, when Mustafa Kemal abolished the Sultanate and proclaimed the modern Republic of Turkey, THE END OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE explores the political, economic, and social processes that led to the fall of the Ottomans. On the ruins of the Empire, a whole new world was born, one of new nation-states, borders, and ethnic and religious fractures.

With rare footage, archival images, and interviews with the most renowned international historians, this two-part film analyzes these new lines of division and reminds us that the Ottoman past still matters today, across the Balkans and the entire Middle East.

First Part: The Nations Against the Empire

The first part of the film explores the period starting with the independence of Greece in 1830 and finishing with the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. A period during which the Ottoman Empire would totally recede from Europe, after five centuries of domination.

This is a little-known page of history, often denigrated by local national historiographies. But, as Mark Mazower, from Columbia University recalls, it had been a rich, even if complicated, history of coexistence between Christian, Muslim and Jewish peoples. The Ottoman social order was guaranteed by the Millet system, which formally organized confessional communities and led to a coexistence based on living “side by side by side by side”, rather than “together”. As the XIXth century saw the rise of nationalism, the confessional millet would turn into national communities. Religious identities shifted to exclusive national identities – Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian… - which still clash and conflict.

Three forces were at work during the XIXth century: rising nationalism; European imperialism, which saw the Great Powers of the time, France, England, Russia, Germany, covet the territories and resources of the weakened Ottoman Empire; and finally the Ottomans’ failure to adapt their Empire to modernity and to reform. All together, these forces would eradicate Ottoman presence in Europe. The powerful Sultan Abdülhamid, who had reigned from 1876 to 1909, would not change the fate of the Empire. Himself would eventually be deposed by a national revolution – the Young Turks Revolution.

52 minutes / Color
English; French / English subtitles
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2016

For individual consumers (home video)

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Subject areas:
Geography, History (World), Middle East, Political Science, Turkey

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