A "Romeo and Juliet" story that takes place in the late 16c. Ukraine. Taras has settled into comfortable farm life after years of adventures and swashbuckling with his cossack companions. ...
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A "Romeo and Juliet" story that takes place in the late 16c. Ukraine. Taras has settled into comfortable farm life after years of adventures and swashbuckling with his cossack companions. Though not wealthy, he is able to send his son Andrei away to a Polish school. At this time the Poles are overlords of Ukraine and the origin of the cossacks is struggle of the Ukrainian serfs to free themselves and their land of Polish domination. Toward this end Taras hopes that his son will be educated in the ways of the enemy. Instead, Andrei falls in love with the daughter of a Polish nobleman, setting the stage for a clash between love, family honor, and a struggle for national identity. Written by
Taras Bulba is the story of the Cossack's fight for freedom, a fight to reclaim their beloved land from the Poles. It is also a story of a father's love and pride for his son. Yul Brynner is the definitive Cossack in this movie. His swagger and bigger than life persona is the perfect match for Taras. His portrayal is both powerful and moving. Added to that is the fantastic horseback battle scenes on the Steppes. The scenes where the Cossack regiments gather with a rallying cry are awesome. Those alone deserve a 10.
The story of Taras Bulba had the potential to be a great historical epic had it focused on Taras' struggle between his love for the Cossack way of life and that for his son. Unfortunately, given the box office requirements of the time, the studio execs decided to toss in a cheesy love story (complete with fuzzy close-ups) and Tony Curtis, with his matinée-idol hairdo untouched. That just jars you out of the period. According to his biography, Brynner worked long and hard to bring the rich character to life, but broke down when he saw the final cut. That said, this movie still deserves a watch if only to see the magnificent Yul Brynner and the wonderfully choreographed battle sequences.
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