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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.
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
As a student of history, I absolutely love historical films and The Day of Siege is one to love. The movie was uplifting and one for our times as we see history trying to repeat itself once again with militant Islamic terrorists in the form of ISIS and other groups such as the Taliban trying to gain as much territory as they can in the name of their version of Islam in order to create a world wide caliphate, one need only replace the various factions with the Ottoman Empire and you have the same story from antiquity again posing a threat not only to Europe but the whole world. While some may disagree with that assessment, the truth is there if you are but willing to open your eyes and see that this dark desire is again sweeping across town after town in the Middle East as these barbaric hordes threaten people with conversion or death. The problem is that many of us, too many of us, have forgotten our history and how had it not been for Jan Sobieski and the forces of the Polish Crown made up of Poles, Lithuanians and others and the forces of the Holy Roman Empire from Germany, Vienna may have fallen. This is a movie for our times. With a President in the United States who seems unable or unwilling to confront the enemy and committing the historical blunder of not seeing it as a serious threat, ISIS is claiming city after city and costing more lives to retake those cities in a strategy of blood letting and slowly depleting those forces in the region who oppose them while their losses are replaced by new converts and conscripts every day. We need a Jan Sobieski today who sees the threat as it really is and is not afraid to take the fight to the enemy in order to stop their advances and end their ambitions and goals. If you are a student of history, you will understand what I am speaking of and how this movie brings to the screen a bit of history that has been forgotten in our schools and isn't remembered much except in those places in Europe where its effects, the sacrifices of those who fought in the battle and its effect on the ambitions of Ottoman Empire to stop incursions further into Europe are still talked of today. The relief force that came to the aid of Vienna overcame what were for the time impossible obstacles including marching men, cavalry and artillery up to the top of the Kahlenberg where they had the high ground and a command of the heights above the battlefield. The story of their efforts in defense of all Christendom should inspire us today to remember who it is we fight and those who stood before to stop similar ambitions and save Europe. While some may say the movie did not portray enough of what happened, what it did portray was enough. One can overlook certain aspects of film making when the story is there and the emotions are stirred. I found that to be the case for myself in watching this movie. There is an implied message in this movie that most who are not paying attention to the dangerous world in which we live today might miss. That message is that freedom is precious and if not defended and preserved, can easily be lost to those who seek to take it from you. Such was the design of the Ottoman Empire in its invasion to take Vienna. But though the enemy host seemed daunting and the task impossible, individuals arose who inspired people to do more than they themselves thought they were capable of and overcame tremendous obstacles to achieve victory and preserve not only the Holy Church in Rome but also life and liberty and freedom for those throughout Europe.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As Vienna never fell, there should be no spoilers possible; but it does
contain drama so I'll skip that.
As usual, the the Ottomans want to roll up Europe like they did the formerly Christian nations of the Middle East and North Africa. Only Vienna stands in their path. They bring a huge army. Their siege is working to perfection. And yet, they fail.
How? It's great to watch the movie. You might even see things that remind you of Lord of the Rings (Large army out of the East, city without a strong enough defense to survive alone, weak, decadent leaders who can't agree about what to have for lunch, and a few surprises.
This is worth watching (I saw it on cable in Korea) and buying. But only if you like movies where the good guys win.
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?
This movie shows the brutality of Islamic forces and the strength of Christians in their faith. Also the movie shows brutal Islamic leaders rewarded their faithful Commander Mustafa Kara with strangulation. It shows that an able leader like King Sobieski need not be high born to lead forces to victory. The movie shows how surprise can be decisive in battle as the Christians launch a deadly audacious attack from kahlenberg hill. Had it not been King Sobieski, all of Europe would have been Muslim. This movie should be shown to all who vow to defend their faith from barbaric muslims who do not have faith in their religion themselves, who can even carry out suicide attacks on children's school, remember pakistani attack on school in 2014. Overall, the fight scenes were awesome and attire of Hussars was replicated to perfection. Kudos to the Poles
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 ***
The Day of the Siege (2012)recites efforts by the Ottoman Empire to
invade what is now Austria in an effort to eventually capture Rome and
place a mosque in the Vatican. The film was produced by an alliance of
Polish and Italian companies; it offers a historically mainly accurate
account (with dramatic elaboration in terms of individual subplots and
characterization) of events.
The film does not rise to the expectations of some modern viewers in terms of special effects perhaps, yet it more than makes up for low budget technical flaws in a stunning visual panoply of the opposing forces in the battle and in the excellent script. It is not a film that I would recommend showing children because, as an account of a sometimes brutal military campaign, it does contain a lot of graphic violence.
The plot centers around St. Marco d'Aviano, a humble monk from the outskirts of Venice, who largely focused the attention of some impacted European rulers on the threat to the Papacy posed by the expansionist ambitions of the Turkish ruler. His warnings that the way of life and the traditions promulgated by the Catholic Church would be endangered were not taken seriously by most members of the Austrian ruling family until a large invading army was literally within sight of Vienna.
Marco d'Aviano had a reputation in Europe at the time as a great healer; he was later canonized based partly on accounts that he had performed miraculous cures.
Through the monk's personal influence, the military leaders defending Vienna reluctantly allowed the Polish King Jan Sobieski to spearhead the defense of Vienna against the vastly larger, well trained Ottoman army. Brilliantly depicted by F. Murray Abraham, Marco d'Aviano contends with many challenges, including his sorrow that the defense of the Church in this instance would involve warfare and the loss of life. He represents a tortured protagonist, a Christian confronting harsh temporal realities.
The merit of the film in my view rests also in the fact that the protagonist, courageous and charismatic Kara Mustapha, the Turkish Grand Vizier, emerges as a strongly defined, very human historical figure. His character is not two dimensional, but highly complex in this intriguing historical drama. Despite his deep love for his favorite wife, and their son, he undertakes an ambitious campaign, quite literally risking his career, his wealth and his life on his belief that he will prevail in seizing Rome by capturing Vienna, "the Golden Apple" of Europe. Enrico Lo Salvo portrays him with great talent.
The historical outcome of the siege is accurately reported. The film could be seen as a study of conflicting world views and value systems. It is definitely worth watching, although the material is unsettling and at many places is clashes with modern perspectives and ideals.
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