A half century of history in the Balkans is dramatized in this 4 part miniseries of 360 minutes total duration. Episode 1 takes us from the 1890s to 1914. In 1892, the Ottoman Empire is ... See full summary »






Series cast summary:
 Zulfikar Bey (4 episodes, 2005)
Tasos Nousias ...
 King Zog of Albania (4 episodes, 2005)
Bogumil Atanasov ...
 Riza bey (4 episodes, 2005)
Mélisandre Meertens ...
 Esma (4 episodes, 2005)
 Suleyman (4 episodes, 2005)
Vagelis Rokos ...
 Hikmet (4 episodes, 2005)
Stratos Tzortzoglou ...
 Takis (4 episodes, 2005)
Candela Fernández ...
 Myriam (4 episodes, 2005)
Mihalis Giannatos ...
 Chevket (4 episodes, 2005)
Svetoslav Kamenov ...
 Young Rasit (4 episodes, 2005)
 Rasit (4 episodes, 2005)
Constantina Alimonou ...
 Angelica (4 episodes, 2005)
Maria Kavardjikova ...
 Saliha Hanim (4 episodes, 2005)
Michael Cohen ...
 Suleyman - Adult (4 episodes, 2005)
Marios Iordanou ...
 Dimitri (4 episodes, 2005)
Marilita Lambropoulou ...
 Pembe (4 episodes, 2005)
Eva de Luis ...
 Vera (4 episodes, 2005)
Nikolai Urumov ...
 Orhan Bei (4 episodes, 2005)
Petya Silyanova ...
 Hamza (4 episodes, 2005)
Giorgos Hraniotis ...
 Mustafa (4 episodes, 2005)
Ivan Petrushinov ...
 Yakup Aga (4 episodes, 2005)


A half century of history in the Balkans is dramatized in this 4 part miniseries of 360 minutes total duration. Episode 1 takes us from the 1890s to 1914. In 1892, the Ottoman Empire is being threatened by patriotic nationalists. In Goricka, the lord of the region celebrates the birth of his heir, Zufikar, receiving the name of the prestigious family's founder. The boy is brought up regally, and graduates from the University of Salonika (at the time Turkish). There he befriends a young Greeek, Takis. Zufikar then returns home, where he again meets Esma, the mill owner's daughter, a childhood acquaintance. Passion erupts between "Z" and Esma. Disagreeing over Esma's sense of virtue, "Z" leaves her without knowing she is carrying his child. Alone and abandoned, Esma marries the coach driver Mustafa, to avoid the disgrace of being a single mother. "Z", in an attempt to forget Esma marries Myriam, a Jewish refugee from Salonika In Episode 2, World War II erupts in the Balkans, then ... Written by Gonz30

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Release Date:

2005 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Az utolsó balkáni nagyúr  »

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(4 episodes)


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User Reviews

Outstanding and entertaining history lesson
24 March 2006 | by (Coral Gables, Fl) – See all my reviews

This four part miniseries is as outstanding as cinema, as it is and entertaining and important history lesson. It is very timely too, as the situation is the Balkans still remains one of the world's hot-spots for another war.

The French series (though it includes Greek and Spanish actors, among others) is dubbed into French. At least as it is playing worldwide during the month of March 2006, most recently, on the world French Language Network, TV5. The series is an adaptation of a novel, very cleverly set in a lake region, in the former European part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The region is, by the middle of the Episode 2, divided into 3 parts, as it still is today, though these parts have gone back and forth between countries in the last 100 years.

So by choosing this Balkan location, the recent history of Albania, Macedonia/Yugoslavia, Greece (the 3 Balkan countries of this series) plus Turkey, and to some degree Bulgaria, can be told in the classic soap "opera-ish" epic. The characters are for the most part fictitious, but all represent the peoples inhabiting the Balkans: the Muslim Turks, the Christian Macedonians/Yugoslavs, the Yugoslav Muslims, the Greek Jews, the pro-Russian Bulgarians, and Albanians of all types.

It is easy to see in these characters that there is NO clear-cut ethnicity, as there was no real border for hundreds of years. What defined people somewhat were their social class, and their languages, but language is not addressed in the series, spoken and dubbed in French, but assuming the region is bi-lingual: Slavic Macedonian (similar to Serbian) and Greek, with Turkish influences on both languages.

It is also interesting to note in the series, that none of the different characters were religious. A Muslim would marry a Jew, a Jew a Christian, a Christian a Muslim, and so on, without any fuss. The series shows that the real determining factors of an "ethnic group" was neither language nor religion, but rather each character's political orientation. That attached them to the 3 countries formed from this lake region with multiple borders within miles of each other.

Thus, hard line communists ended up fighting for Albania, Tito-following partisans for Yugoslavia (Macedonia and Serbia), capitalists (including some communists defeated in their civil war) for Greece, and Turks moved to the new Turkey in the 1920s.

All these countries went on to live in relative peace with each other by the end of this miniseries (1949/50). And that peace continued for another 40 something years, until the death of Tito and the fall of Communism brought back "Balkanization" and tribal warfare.

A valuable and excellent history lesson in an a most entertaining format. Highly Recommendable!

15 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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