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The title of the film, THE BATTLE OF VIENNA, rightly leads viewers to
an assumption that they are going to see an epic production dealing
with an important moment in the European history - the 1680s and the
siege of Vienna. Undeniably, 1683 saw the turning point for the western
world and its identity. Deserveably, the tribute in the form of the
newest motion picture depicting this historic battle is a desirable
achievement. For years, many history film buffs looked forward to its
screen adaptation. Although there have been certain plans, they somehow
did not materialize for several reasons. And here it is at last, a film
directed by Renzo Martinelli starring some great international and
Polish cast. With this challenging project, however, they should have
kept in mind one thing: as our experience with the genre gets richer,
our expectations naturally grow higher. What expectations?
Some await a spectacle, some look forward to historical accuracy, some preferably cherish the fictitious plots and characters creatively inserted into the historic moments. Unfortunately, Martinelli's movie does not meet any of these expectations and, sadly, disappoints a variety of viewers at multiple levels.
Amidst the storm of criticism among movie scholars, viewers can do their best to put up with innumerable flaws and try to find some positive aspects about a production. Nevertheless, it appears almost impossible in this case. If there is something positive or at least occurs to be promising, sooner or later, there turns up something that almost disqualifies the movie's producers, director and crew. The theme is serious but the backbone is a pure soap opera, cheap entertainment that leaves even a contemporary movie buff disappointed - not to mention learned historians. Let me consider some aspects more briefly.
JAN SOBIESKI and MARCO D'AVIANO: The two iconic figures of the historical moment, the religious and the military leader, are unforgivably diminished/distorted under Martinelli's direction. While Sobieski (Jerzy Skolimowski) is an almost background character diminished to some two or three scenes (no viewer, particularly the one who is not very acknowledged of history, can ever see the Polish king as the crucial victor of the battle), Marco d'Aviano is an almost fairy tale-like miracle worker.
SOBIESKI: Where is his charisma? Where is his military genius? Where is his detailed written correspondence with Pope Innocent XI? Where are his historic words he wrote to the pope after the battle paraphrasing Julius Caesar "Venimus, vidimus, Deus vicit" What do we get of Skolimowski's portrayal of the king? Just an episodic, supporting monarch...
MARCO D'AVIANO seems to be the protagonist of the film. He indeed has far more time on the screen. Played by wonderful F Murray Abraham, we have a clearer picture of the character. But the problem is what this picture has to do with the historical Marco d'Aviano or Carlo Dominico Cristofori... The terribly flawed and ridiculous (at moments) script did not allow even such a good actor as Murray Abraham to deliver something really powerful. The flashback to the youth itself with the alleged meeting with Kara Mustafa (when both were boys) is something that has no logical bases. It seems there is much of a miraculous or rather magical existence in his life. However, the director, for a number of reasons some intentional and some coincidental, ignored the jeopardy of a serious border that exists within depiction of the supernatural: border between a mystique experience and a mere laughable product of fantasy. Just to mention the sequence with the wolf (the priest's ancestor). What purpose does it serve?
OTHER HISTORICAL FIGURES: It would be unjust to start with yet another European. The winners take it all, true, and it has been so throughout centuries but let me highlight Kara Mustafa here played by just adequate Enrico LoVerso. As a matter of fact, there is nothing extraordinary about the portrayal of this key character so eager to spread the Ottoman Empire westwards. At the beginning, through some cheap computerized effects, we may get an idea of what he is like, the general impression might be quite impressive but in the second half of the movie, the character goes totally pale. The person who deserves credit is Piotr Adamczyk as Leopold I, the emperor of Austria. His performance, at least, leaves a certain idea of a ruler quite incapable of gathering the army but proud enough to refuse asking for help. Historically, this portrayal takes innumerable liberties again but at least, it is Adamczyk's interesting performance that viewers may enjoy (from the artistic point of view, I mean). The rest of the performances are worth soap opera. Sorry to say that but I think that I am not the only viewer who has that impression.
And the BATTLE itself? That would be the major point of criticism. It is diminished, belittled and cannot captivate a viewer whatsoever. This point, of course, refers to modern cinematic possibilities which allow for something truly spectacular. The reconstruction of the Vienna of the time (referred to as "Golden Apple" and the second, after Rome, greatest city of the continental Europe of the time) at the siege resorts merely to computerized packed images of some church towers (the ones of Minoritenkirche, Michaelerkirche and the copula of Karlskirche) and some almost laughable images of buildings. And what does the priest Marco D'Aviano do whilst the battle? He stands on a hill, shouts at the enemy in a Moses-like position and carries...something that thoroughly disqualifies even the soap epic...a bent, post-modern cross designed by Lello Scorzelli (so called 'Scorzelli staff) and carried by some recent popes, particularly John Paul II. Yes, Marco d'Aviano is supposed to be John Paul II for a moment... Great idea, isn't it?
A few years will pass and no one will be able to rescue such movies from oblivion...there is a danger that history and epic genre will also be belittled through such crap productions. A remake highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just had to create an account to write this review and warn people.
Under any circumstances do not go and watch that film.
The first thing that really hits you is the CGI. It's like it's taken out of a poorly designed computer game from the 1995.
The sound was so horrible especially when suddenly the speaking character is sort of behind you and you can see who's he speaking to... and when I say behind you I mean you feel like there's a huge pumped-up guy breathing down your neck... dreadful!
Music? What music? The music is supposed to help set the mood... well this film's music took the mood and wiped its behind with it. It's really closer to jingles you hear in some ads on the TV.
Dialogs? Action? Any drama? Nope. Sorry, ain't gonna happen. It was one of the worst films I've ever seen and the first one that made me leave the cinema. Ever.
Thank you, good night.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to agree with the previous reviews - there is almost nothing
good you can say about this film...
My expectations were high - it's such a filmy topic... A great battle with the most powerful heavy cavalry in the military history of the world (the Polish heavy cavalry known as "husaria"), interesting characters of king Sobieski and Marco D'Aviano, not to mention Leopold I, and... nothing, zero emotions, no involvement in the movie whatsoever... Such a disappointment...
The only two positive things I can say about this film are: 1) a very comic portrayal of Leopold I by Adamczyk (just one look at him and I was dying with laughter - though I don't think that was the intention of the director) and 2) a very short scene in which Polish troops were shown mounting the Kahlenberg Hill - it perfectly picturized the arduous job it was to get to the top of the hill with the horses, in full armor, with cannons heavy as hell... But then that's it... The cavalry charge, which should have been the epitome of the battle, which should have shown how murderous those "husaria" charges were, was limited to a narrow frame of a few horsemen trotting their way down the hill in slow-motion almost... Watching them makes you start wondering why the whole of Europe had been so scared to death of those "winged" Polish knights for over two hundred years...
On the whole - if you look for great battles in a movie, go and see the Rohan riders' charges in The Lord of the Rings movies, if you look for great acting, choose any of the classics - but stay away from this horrible misunderstanding of a film.
Not a complete review, although I think the film was modestly
entertaining, it's hard to do a sweeping epic style film on a very
modest budget of only $12 MM.
So, my offering is a bit of trivia, an "oops" in the film. About 2/3 through or thereabouts, we see F. Murray Abraham carrying/holding a papal-like silver staff. It has a slightly down-turned cross, with a crucifix of a very thin and stretched out Jesus attached.
The problem, although a beautiful and imaginative design, is that that particular staff was designed by Lello Scorzelli, from Naples Italy, in 1965just about 300 years later than the time of the historical period!
The Scorzelli Staff has been carried by the last 3 Popes, among other ferula, not counting the other staffs. I just think they chose it for the beauty, but I recognized it immediately, did any of you?
Oh, what can I really say here? I love the history of great battles and the Polish events of the 17th century, Jan Sobieski was a distinguished king and a great warrior, and the very topic of Kara Mustapha and the peak of Ottoman Empire's power in Europe all seem to be very exiting topics to make a great film about. Did the filmmakers succeed? No. Why? First, and foremost, extremely poor special effects. They are so naive, amateurish and so obviously bad, that even a mere kid can immediately say that this is drawn, this is computerized and this was very sloppily assembled on a very simply software. Shame. The worst moment? he very battle, of course. My, it is so caricature, so unassumingly badly done, so fast and hasted, that one can marvel with a mouth open. Terribly poor effects and very laughable attacks recall all the great previous Polish movies on war, but here the battle simply sinks. Even the great casting cannot help. All the stars seem to be a bit lost and absent, with only two great exceptions - Adamczyk and Abraham - they did a marvelous job. But they did not save the poor film from a fail. Immense failure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is disappointing on so many levels, I don't know where to
start.. The dialogue is cringe inducing. Characters are one
dimensional. Historical accuracy is shaky, even on the
simplest-to-get-right-thanks- to-google things like the Polish flag of
the time or basic Ottoman court etiquette (you NEVER turn your back on
the Sultan).. The battle scenes (this is, after all, a movie about a
battle) are so amateurish, the end result is that the victory looks
unconvincing. Acting is touch-and-go, but with the script they had, I
can't put much blame on the actors.
There is also a not so subtle marketing effort trying to ride on the coattails of post 9/11 emotions. These "triggers" are carefully planted throughout the movie, no doubt with a calculation for profit: The too obvious title (September Eleven 1683 - but history books agree that the battle was decided on September 12th!), the Ottomans being called "Muslims" at every opportunity, the "defend your Christian faith" and "churches will become mosques" one-liners, the subplot about the irrational Turkish guy (with a uniquely Arabic name, of course) who betrays his old Christian friends for the sake of "jihad", Istanbul depicted as an Arab style oasis full of date palms, Karamustafa wearing his turban the Baudouin way, etc. etc.
SPOILER One last beef: Toward the end, a lone Ottoman rider who the Poles believe to be Karamustafa himself is shown charging against the Polish hussars. Instead of sending out a knight to fight him or better yet, capture him alive, the Polish commanders including King Sobieski just shoot the guy dead with their pistols. This Indiana Jones style defense makes a travesty of the chivalric customs of the period and I found it offensive to Sobieski's memory, let alone logic and history. END OF SPOILER
In conclusion this movie takes up a very interesting historical event and strangles it. It is so bad, it makes the Turkish-made 2012 movie "Conquest 1453" look like a classic in comparison! A missed opportunity.. I give it 2 stars for casting the ultra-charismatic Hal Yamanouchi as the Tatar commander.
I know, the movie is bad. All the critics hit the nail. But...This
movie is, how do they call them? Indie. this movie is the real "V for
Vendetta". This movie did not receive any funding from the state, from
the EU, from anyone, because it is not politically correct. It has no
lesbian scenes, no incest, no sex among clergypersons, and tackles a
topic too many European politicians would better seen buried under the
thickest and farthest away carpet.
After "masterpieces" of the like of "Kingdom of Heaven", or that Turkish movie on the siege of Constantinopolis (at least, righteously bashed by everyone), this movie was at least something to root for.
I am still waiting for a decent movie on the siege of Malta, but I know I'll die without seeing it - so be it, one can't have everything in this life.
Why 7 out of 10? That's why: I sympathize with all the Polish reviewers who killed this movie. You deserved a lot, but an awful lot, better. But really, at least this movie's heart is on the right side, and I am giving my 7 to its heart.
I had seen the trailer for the 2012 Turkish movie 1453 Fetih(Conquest) already,and after seeing it I did not even find it worthy of seeing.But after having heard of the title of this one,I was curious to see it.What I just started to see from the very beginning of the movie though,were the same things I did on that trailer of the Turkish production,amateurish computerized animations thrown in here and there,so apparently visible to the eye that they start being annoying after a while.I was patient however,to get into the developing stages of the plot where the real action was going to happen.All my waits in vain. There are already comments here that mentioned it,so I don't want to repeat the same points over and over but I completely agree with the poor delivery of acting here.Even Murray Abraham,who will always stay in my memory with his unforgettable moments casting for Cuban gangster Omar Suarez in Scarface could not save himself in this misery.(Well,given the horrible plot,there wasn't much he could do) First of all,I won't agree with those who say that not all the things have to be historically accurate as they should have been,if you claim a title depicting an historic event(and as important as this one) I am sorry but there can't be any excuses.Yes there might be of course deviations from the accuracy of the real events at some point,but the plot here so much falls apart that there is not much left throughout the whole picture that actually gives a single idea to spectators what the movie is all about. The characters though are somewhat real except ermm...Abul ? A completely fictitious character,a close friend of Marco D'Aviano and a lover of a young deaf woman,and along with Marco and Kara Mustafa Pasha of Merzifon(yeah this is a Pasha that we are talking about,the Ottoman Grand Vizier) their lives all at some point come across with another ridiculous series of coincidences just made up in this movie.The 11 September message of course is subliminally given to the spectator trying to set the connection with the events of 2001,like it has anything to do with it,blatantly making fun of his/her lack of knowledge on the historical events because the Siege started on 14th July and ended on 12th September. The fictitious Abul's one absurd line while speaking with her lover:''We are Muslims,we are not Westerners,we can't listen to our heart and faith at the same time'' and those lines at the imaginary meeting between Marco and Kara Mustafa,were so out of context and nauseous that a spectator here would completely lose the point of what's going on.I just don't understand that even in 2010s,so pointless and ridiculous vilifying images of another faith,another religious group can be so impudently delivered in cinema.On the final scene where Kara Mustafa is strangled to death for his failure in Belgrade and the executors having his son to watch his execution(the latter I think also never happened) I called it quits but it was already the end of the movie.Is that the expression a kid of his age shows when watching his own father killed for God's sake ? No emotion,no grieving or suffering,shaking,nothing ! Are you kidding me ? Finally the depiction of Vienna and its castle are already mentioned here,well some should at least go and look at even early as 1930's and onwards to see some marvelous jobs done on Medieval Age depictions.Therefore depiction here shouldn't mean throwing in digital images,but rather putting your mindset,soul and creativity. If you are interested in the Ottoman conflicts in East and Central Europe of those times,I advise you to find the 1989 Serbian movie Battle of Kosovo and Romanian productions Vlad Tepes(1979) and Mihai Viteazul(1971) with English subtitles if you can.Those too at times deviate from the historical script,but they are way way better in characterizing the incidents and keep you in the main story.At least they do not demean their titles unlike this movie.
This is the absolute worst historical movie in the history of movies that I have ever seen! It is a tragedy for every historian on earth! It is an evil depiction of Islam and Turks. Showing Europeans to be so civilized and nice while Turks and Muslims to be blood thirsty beasts who have no goal but to kill and destroy! Let me give you a few scenes as examples of terrible fictitious history of this film. First, you absolutely can not prostrate to any man or thing on earth except for God. Kara Mustafa prostrated in front of the Sultan and a weird fortune teller in the mosque. Second, fortune tellers are prohibited in Islam. So not only he prostrated to people, he talked to a fortune teller in the middle of the mosque!!! The third, is the false history of the necklace that Marco gave Kara. That never happened! Every single scene in this movie from the Italian ruler to the Polish and Turk is the worst most evil depiction possible.
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