If you watched the Super Bowl LIII last Saturday then you may well have seen a tantalizing 30-second teaser of a beautiful but confusing short film advertising Turkish Airlines. The commercial, which appeared in the first quarter of an otherwise totally forgettable Super Bowl, was a short version of the airline’s six-minute cinematic short film which not only advertises the airline but also the brand new Istanbul airport and the city itself.
The film is directed by acclaimed director Ridley Scott who is most well-known for his seminal films Alien and Blade Runner. Scott was also the creative genius behind Thelma and Louise and Gladiator, and while the director has directed thousands of commercials, this is his first in 15-years.
‘The Journey’ stars Sylvia Hoeks, known for her role in Blade Runner 2049, as she follows a mysterious woman across some of the most iconic sites of Istanbul. According to Turkish Airlines, more than 500 actors took part in the film – including at the brand new Istanbul Airport, Çırağan Palace, Basilica Cistern and Ortaköy Square.
It’s certainly a very captivating film but it might leave you with a lot more questions than answers. Ultimately, though, the film serves as a brilliant way to show just how beautiful Istanbul is and Turkish Airlines will no doubt be hoping the commercial brings a surge in tourists to the city – flying with the national airline of course.
Tourists have shied away from Istanbul in recent years after a series of terrorist attacks hit the city in 2016. One of the most serious and high profile was a coordinated rampage at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in June 2016 that left at least 41 people dead. Three attackers entered the arrivals hall and opened fire before detonating suicide vests. Around 239 people were also injured in the barbaric attack.
The city was also the scene of an attempted coup d’état just a month later which saw a faction of the Turkish Armed Forces attempt to overthrow Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. The coup very quickly failed and while Erdoğan gained politically off the back of it, the incident has since thrown a spotlight on alleged human rights abuses in the country.
Unsurprisingly, Turkish Airlines took a massive financial hit – the airline was forced to ground a number of aircraft and the carrier plunged to a loss as passengers avoided the airline at all costs. The situation has dramatically improved since then and Turkish Airlines has only recently reported record load factors.
‘The Journey’ isn’t the first big-budget commercial created by the airline. In 2017, Turkish Airlines hired Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman to appear in its Widen Your World, while Ben Affleck starred in a Batman v Superman commercial for the airline in 2016.