Not the greatest historical epic, but definitely much to impress.
"Pan Wolodyjowski" does not rank with some of the great film epics, such as "Lawerence of Arabia," but there is definitely much to impress the lover of historical films. This is especially true if, like me, you have grown tired of all the usual times and places that make it repeatedly into film and wish to discover a new realm of barbaric splendor and excitement. In the late-1600s, while colonists in America were struggling to defend their western frontier, there was another borderland - a "Wild East" if you will - between Europe and Asia. The frontier between the Ottoman Empire and Europe lay through Poland, Ukraine, and southeastern Europe, and each side was trying to invade the other's. This was a world of Tatars and Turks, Cossacks and Polish "winged hussars," scimitars and lances, fur caps and feathers everywhere.
This film adaptation of the last of Henryk Sienkiewicz' historical trilogy is a bit dated in its looks - women with big hair and bangs, the colors a bit too bright - but with a cast of thousands the story the film tells is compelling and filled with enough pitched battles, chases, explosions, hair's-breadth escapes, love stories, strong male and female characters, rapes, murders, impalings and suicides to keep all but the most special-effects dazed teenager entertained. But more than that, this film is a gateway into forgotten realms. Can anyone watch this or the other two episodes in the trilogy ("The Deluge," and "With Fire and Sword") and ever listen to another "dumb Polack" joke again? I don't think so.
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