Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Scarface in a fez? Classic films get an Ottoman makeover

By Daisy Carrington, for CNN
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Thu March 20, 2014


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • As an art student, Murat Palta wondered what Star Wars would look like as Ottoman art
  • He decided to recreate several scenes from classic movies
  • He is hoping to add more movies to the mix, including Lord of the Rings

(CNN) -- While an art student at Dumlupinar University, Turkish illustrator Murat Palta watched "Star Wars". As with the generations of fans that preceded him, he was struck by the film's epic quality. Though the movie is set in the future, Palta was reminded of the colorful Ottoman miniatures that illustrated Turkish literature from the 16th century.

Gallery: Cult classics reimagined as Ottoman miniatures

"I kept on trying to imagine what 'Star Wars' would look like if it was placed in the Ottoman era, so I decided it would be good to illustrate it," he recalls. Palta soon got hooked on reimagining Western cult classics in the Eastern tradition.

For his graduation project, he expanded his portfolio to include antique-style versions of several cult classics, including "A Clockwork Orange," "Inception" and an array of Scorsese and Tarantino movies.

"I guess I just really like movies," he admits. "I just wanted to make fun of them, but not in a mean way."

Turkish artist Murat Palta paints Al Pacino's Scarface in a fez.  Turkish artist Murat Palta paints Al Pacino's Scarface in a fez.
Turkish artist Murat Palta paints Al Pacino's Scarface in a fez.Turkish artist Murat Palta paints Al Pacino's Scarface in a fez.
Danny's bicycle in The Shining is depicted made of wood instead of metal.  Danny's bicycle in The Shining is depicted made of wood instead of metal.
Danny's bicycle in The Shining is depicted made of wood instead of metal.Danny's bicycle in The Shining is depicted made of wood instead of metal.
Uma Thurman's yellow jumpsuit is depicted as flowing, Ottoman-style robes.  Uma Thurman's yellow jumpsuit is depicted as flowing, Ottoman-style robes.
Uma Thurman's yellow jumpsuit is depicted as flowing, Ottoman-style robes.Uma Thurman's yellow jumpsuit is depicted as flowing, Ottoman-style robes.

There is an underlying playfulness throughout his illustrations. Each took a full day or two to complete using a combination of handmade stencils, watercolors and Photoshop.

In his rendition of "Scarface," Al Pacino shoots down his foes while wearing a fez. His "Goodfellas" gangsters drive horse and buggies instead of cars and in "The Shining," Danny rides a bicycle made of wood.

"The first time I mentioned my project to my teachers, they didn't understand it," Palta admits. "They said, 'why don't you illustrate Turkish movies?' I told them there's no point. I wanted to combine not just the two cultures -- Western and Eastern -- but the two styles: modern and traditional."

They were impressed when they saw the finished product, however, and Palta, since graduated, has moved on to display his work (he's gearing up for an exhibition in Florence, Italy at the Vaia Balekis Contemporary Art Gallery). The project is also far from over.

"I'm still working on it," he admits. "I think next I'll illustrate 'Lord of the Rings' and '2001: A Space Odyssey,' or maybe 'Pan's Labyrinth.'"

Gallery: Iranian epic Shahnahmeh, remade for the digital age

Read: Arab cartoonists court controversy

Interactive: Press freedom in the Middle East

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:53 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Dubai has got some big animal attractions in its mega malls. But not everyone is wild about the idea.
updated 11:14 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's Nobel Prize-winning author, is neither afraid to confront the human condition nor the state his country is in.
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
The smell of traditional dishes served during Ramadan fill the house of Iman, a Lebanese mother of four.
updated 7:22 AM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
Unmanned aerial vehicles aren't generally thought of as technology that improves lives; the UAE wants to change that.
updated 9:49 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
How an Iranian musician took ancient Persian poetry to the top of the U.S. charts.
updated 3:36 AM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
How will the elevators work in the world's tallest building?
updated 8:24 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
When Saher Shaikh first moved to Dubai, the rights of the city's labor population was the furthest thing from her mind.
updated 6:00 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
It's not quite greening the desert, but an ambitious plan for an underground park could transform Abu Dhabi.
updated 7:06 AM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
CNN's Ben Wedeman explores ancient footpaths in the wilds of the West Bank.
updated 6:51 AM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Inside the Middle East meets photographer Garo Nalbandian who has captured life in Jerusalem's Old City for more than half a century.
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
The Middle East's is home to some of the world's most endangered animals.
ADVERTISEMENT