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The Day of the Siege: September Eleven 1683
IMDB Rating: 4.0/10 from R votes
Release: 12 October 2012 (Poland) /

The Day of the Siege: September Eleven 1683

Genre: Adventure, Drama, History
Director:
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: In the summer of 1683, 300,000 warriors of the Ottoman Empire began the siege of Vienna. The fall of the city would have opened the way to conquer Europe. On September 11. was the main battle between the Polish cavalry and the Turks.

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Critic Reviews


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.

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