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Ogniem i mieczem
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Reviews & Ratings for
With Fire and Sword More at IMDbPro »Ogniem i mieczem (original title)

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40 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

One of the greatest Polish movies ever made

10/10
Author: denis888 from Russian Federation
29 June 2006

I first saw Ogniem I Mieczem in Poland in 2000, where I was working and learning Polish. That is true that one has to know Polish well enough to perceive this magnificent epic drama, but at the same time this film was broad-casted in Russia, my homeland, dubbed into Russian, and many people watched it and loved it very much. I agree that you have probably to be Polish to understand this film, but this is not a must. All you need is some basic knowledge of the Polish – Russian – Ukrainian history of the 17th century. Terrible wars were waging all that time between Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Since there are three nations close to one another, that conflict made it all even worse, when true brothers were killing each other. Jerzy Hoffman is a real master of the historical movies; he had already achieved great popularity with Potop and Pan Wolodyjowski, two other films based as Ogniem I Mieczem on the novels of the Nobel Prize Winner Henryk Sienkiewicz. Thus, in OiM he managed to depict very tragic and romantic events on a really grand scale. The battle scenes are simply second to none, and you feel all that pain and suffering of people fighting there. The scene when the Ukrainian army under Bohdan Chmelnicki (played by the famous Ukrainian actor Bohdan Stupka) attacks continually the castle called Zbararz is impeccable. The casting job was also done marvelously. You cannot imagine anybody else but the Russian film star Alexander Domogarov in the part of Jurek Bohun, a riotous Ukrainian colonel. He plays with such unrestrained passion and vigor that, even being certainly a "baddie", he arouses a great sympathy and admiration. Isabella Scorupco is an excellent choice for the main female part (the love story in the movie is very touching and likewise very tragic), while Zbiegniew Zamachowski is great playing a small but brave feigner and loyal soldier. The famous Polish actor Marek Kondrat is there in a very small but highly emotional role of the king Jan Kazimierz, weak and powerless ruler whose heart aches for his Motherland. Also, pay attention to a merciless but brave Count Jeremi Wisniewiecki, who tried all his best to put an end to that horrible war. And it's impossible to forget another Ukrainian actress, Ruslana Pysanka in the role of the witch Horpyna – her performance is blood-chilling and at the same time very entertaining. In fact, all, even smaller parts of this crew (Pan Zagloba, Senator Kissiel, Tuhaj-Bej, Tatarczuk, Longin Podbipieta) are in their places and add much to the film. The nature scenes are another plus of this film; you cannot but admire the wide open plains, slow waters, deep forests and snowy mountains all shown with real gusto. Music adds another dimension, this mix of Russian, Polish and Ukrainian folk tunes serves its duty – it trills you, holds you all the time and stays in your ears long after the movie ended. I was thrilled after having watched this epic for the 1st time, and this feeling remains in me even after numerous re-runs. What I really love in this film is the main message that Mr. Hoffman made clear – a civil war is terrible, no aim and no word may justify this entire bloody massacre. The final scene when we learn that all this heroic struggle of the Poles was in fact in vain is deeply touching and I can understand all those who were weeping while watching. No, you don't have to be a Pole yourself to catch the main idea of the movie. You simply have to be a person with a big heart and sincere feelings to feel pain, suffering, strife and grief of the oppressed. This movie is a splendid work of art of the big master, having lost none of its emotional message with the run of time. Highly recommended

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25 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Good period piece with a bit for everyone

7/10
Author: gwailo247 from Los Angeles, CA
5 February 2006

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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26 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Loved it!

8/10
Author: ladyeuthanasia from United States
3 April 2005

If you love war epics, great sword work, and quirky characters, this movie is unbelievably good. They must have poured an incredible amount of money into the costuming, as well, because the entire production looked amazing. The film's length wore on me at times, but I loved those characters so much that I almost didn't want the film to end. If you don't like bloodshed, then don't watch a freakin' war movie. But if you do, you will not be disappointed by this film in the least. The battle sequences are at times stunning and all beautifully coordinated. I can't think of a single fight that didn't just completely kick bottom.

As for the yum factor, the bad guy Bohun is incredibly hot. He's like a Cossack Heathcliff. Both he and the "good guy" (there really aren't any good guys in this film) were droolable. The Princess was lovely, but too clean for all her adventures. That was the only real Hollywoodism of which the film can be convicted.

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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating european movie!

10/10
Author: arkudaki (arkudaki@yahoo.com)
10 February 2002

Ogniem i Mieczem has amazed me!Indeed with such "small budget"(9 million dollars even for Polish cinema,europe is big) well Hoffman made a impressing historical movie. Nice battle scenes,costumes,landscapes,the characters are interesting especially villain and you can learn a lot from Polish-Ukrainian history. Something different from "common" western european or US history... Some will say that expected more...maybe true but remember..it is not 60 or 100 million budget movie with famous stars...it is european,pure polish production and has nothing to be jealous from hollywood. Actors did good work,as Hoffman in direction. of course plot can be weak in some parts but is not always easy to copy from a book,in detail and perfection especially Sienkiewicz ones. I recommend this movie,am happy to see historical european productions with other perspective and not in american way. You will not regret seeing that movie. I give it 9/10.

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23 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

The greatest epic movie! Hollywood sucks!

Author: Mah-Zie from Irkutsk, Russia
1 February 2004

It seems to me that all means of expression are guite justified in this movie. It forced me to read the whole source trilogy (Ogniem i mieczem, Potop, Pan Wolodyjowski) by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Characters are very humaly, realistic and true. Battles are very naturalistic.

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19 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Great music

Author: Zach Allen from Rhode Island
26 November 2003

Many comments have been made on the movie, the plot and the acting. I saw the movie at a private screening in Warsaw and loved it. Some of the scenes were well done, some great.

But the music....the music never leaves you. The variations on "Falcons" through the second half of the movie were wonderful. The scene on the river with the male chorus was haunting. THe music should have attracted more note than it did. But, not released in English, based on a super-nationalistic plot of dubious historic value, the movie was only going to appeal to a Polish audience, which it certainly did.

(For those who have commented on its excessive pro-Polish stance, they would be surprised to hear that, in Poland, the criticism was that it was too nice to Chmielnicki. Some said that Hoffman's Ukrainian wife had too much influence.)

The music is the lasting star of the movie. I have the CD and treasure it.

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17 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

romance & war drama

9/10
Author: Konrad Tupaj (ktupaj@ci3ux.ci.pwr.wroc.pl) from Rzeszow, Poland
26 February 1999

Mostly for Polish viewers, some basic knowledge of 17th century Poland may be helpful if you want to understand the movie. It's about the rebellion of Ukrainian Cossacks against their lords - Polish nobility (it was before tsars conquered Ukraine). Polish prince Jeremi Wisniowiecki fights them with extreme atrocity but when they ally with Tatars, is forced to withdraw to the fortress of Zbaraz. These events form a background for the love between one of Polish commanders and girl he meets while carrying out some emissary mission for the prince. The movie is based on the novel "With Fire and Sword" (orig. "Ogniem i mieczem") by Henryk Sienkiewicz (Nobel award for "Quo Vadis"). This book is the first part of a trilogy, other parts have also been filmed. I think it's important to read the novel and see all mentioned movies - "The Deluge" (orig. "Potop") and "Pan Michael" (orig. "Pan Wolodyjowski").

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Decent adventure movie, with a bit of history

7/10
Author: pibwl from Poland
16 August 2007

First of all, I am not delighted with Ogniem i Mieczem. But I think, it is a decent piece of adventure movie, which by the way, can also teach a bit about Poland's and Ukraine's history. There is one great thing, that Hoffman did - he modernized original Sienkiewicz's book, which was written in 1884 in very different circumstances. At that time, Poland was not existent country for almost 100 years, and the goal of Sienkiewicz's Trilogy was to raise Polish morale. That's why the Cossacks in the book are just enemies, evil and cruel, and their cause is not just, while the Poles (and loyal Ukrainians, like Prince Jeremi Wisniowiecki) are good, less cruel, and their cruelty is justified. Hoffman made a movie for modern times instead, when Poland and Ukraine are independent neighbors and they have to cooperate and built friendship among citizens (I must add here, that last local slaughters between citizens of two nations took part during World War II). In a movie, we see also Ukrainian point of view. Of course, the movie still remains Polish-centric, but it also shows Cossacks as people, who had they cause as well - what was guaranteed by engaging the Ukrainian actor (Bohdan Stupka) as Khmelnytsky.

Of the cast, Zbigniew Zamachowski as a fencing master Michal Wolodyjowski is disappointing, but I think he must have been under pressure of comparisons with highly praised Tadeusz Lomnicki, who played this character in earlier other two parts. And yes, Scorupco was a bad choice - after several days of marching through villages and bushes, she still looks like a cosmetic advertisement ("Despite all these things, my make-up still remains intact"). On the other hand, Daniel Olbrychski, playing a minor part of Tukhay-Bey, reached the mastery in my opinion.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

movie about love with elements of history and war

10/10
Author: anna-usa from Chicago
2 December 2005

I strongly recommend this movie for everybody. It is a beautiful story about love. The movie is based on the book of a great Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz called " Ogniem i mieczem". There are some parts where the blood is present, if you know a little bit about history, you know that back then people used different tools than guns to kill so don't be surprised. It is not true that this movie is Hollywood movie. It's ridiculous that somebody would say something like that. Film does not promote violence or nothing else but sex which many Hollywood movies do. Also, you do not have to know Polish history to watch this movie. Movie has a good action. It tells a story and knowledge about Polish history is not prerequisite require to to be able to watch this movie and understand it. Additionally, many great Polish actors play main characters. Two examples are Izabella Scorupco and Michal Zebrowski.

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12 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

great movie of great director

Author: Sophie Rose Kowalska (rose@impan.gov.pl) from Warsaw, Poland
17 December 1999

Everyone in Poland have been waiting for this movie for a long, long time. Some of us even twenty years. But these ones who have watched other parts of the Trilogy now are not disappointed (maybe not everyone but the most). Jerzy Hoffman made a really great movie. I agree that not every actress(read: Izabella Skorupka-this is her Polish name) was good in her role but thanks God we wouldn't have to watch many scenes with her. Of course we can forgive this to mister Hoffman. Everyone can make a mistake. But if we look at this work of art from the other side we can see many fantastic Polish actors like: Daniel Olbrychski(who played in every part of the Trilogy), Michal Zebrowski, Krzysztof Kowalewski or Andrzej Seweryn. They are really great in their roles. They are vivid and credible. I have to say that I cried watching this movie. There were two scenes at which my handkerchief was wet. First: when they found Skrzetuski crying in the village and second it was almost the last scene: when Jan finds out that Helena is alive. But one there is one thing which I hate in Hoffman's movies: his no-limits cruelty (for example in the movie "Pan Michael" he had drowned an alive horse in the stream). He loves to watch the viewers human's and animal's pain and suffering. I know this is in every Sienkiewicz's book but I just cannot accept it.I must confess that I haven't read any Sienkiewicz's book. At the cinema I can close my eyes and only listen but if I closed my eyes while reading a book I wouldn't find out what had happen. I know that many of you won't agree with my opinions(for example about Scorupco) but this is my point of view and everyone has free will and everyone can say how he looks on some things. PS. I have been learning English for 1,5 year so there can be a lot of mistakes-forgive me this.

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