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The trilogy of books on which this movie and its predecessors are based was actually filmed in reverse order. The first movie to be made, 'Pan Wolodyjowski (1969)', is based on the final book of the trilogy, the second movie, 'Potop (1974)', was the second book and 'Ogniem i mieczem', the final movie to be made, is based on the first book. See more »
As a movie based on a book that is a staple of Polish reading, it is bound to attract its adherents and detractors. But overall it has enough merit to it to warrant at least a single viewing.
The story is set in the 17th century, during a period of strife on the eastern fringes of Polish territory, in today's Ukraine. The main plot centers around a rebellion of Cossacks against the oppression of Polish landowners, in the greater setting of a conflict between Poland, Muscovy and the Tartars.The book was written from a Polish standpoint, so there is some obvious favoritism shown, but the main characters are not one dimensional. The motivations of the characters are clearly explained, and the good guy is not always good, and the bad guy is not always bad. The political intricacies may be a bit confusing, but at its heart this movie is a love triangle, so as long as you focus on that, you can follow along.
The main reason to watch this movie is visual. If you are one of those people who likes to have a movie transport them to another time and place, this movie is for you. The costumes, props and scenery are simply beautiful. All the characters speak in the language they are supposed to speak, so you have conversations in Polish, Ukranian and even Tartar. The performances by the main characters are wonderful, ranging from comedy to romance to drama to action.
The movie has a bit of something for everyone. If you like action, the battle sequences are fantastic, very massive in scale. If you like romance, the lead characters are not too hard on the eyes, and their passionate feelings come across the screen quite strongly. There is a very strong comedy element as well, but you might have to understand Polish to appreciate it fully.
The special effects in this movie leave a bit to be desired. It certainly is a bloody, and at times gory film, but really no worse than a lot of recent US offerings.
If I was to use a US movie as a thematic comparison, Last of the Mohicans might be a good choice, with the hero looking for his love in a wild and savage environment.
Overall I would recommend this movie to fans of historical films. The plot is fairly straightforward, so you can focus on watching the visuals instead.
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