Historical Film Tells Poland’s Role in Saving Europe from Islam

In Poland and beyond, there seems to be increasing interest in a new movie, Battle of Vienna, that will open in a few days about King Jan Sobieski’s successful defense of Vienna from the Ottomans in 1683.

Below, an image from the film showing the Polish king leading his cavalry, the winged hussars.

This is the official trailer of the film.

An English-language publication from Poland cleverly sidestepped the clash-of-civilizations angle by not mentioning that the defeat of the Ottoman army at Vienna prevented a Muslim takeover of Europe — as Charles Martel similarly saved western civilization at the Battle of Tours in 732. The emphasis is on Polish pride and history, not the heroic smackdown of invasive Islam.

King Jan Sobieski to conquer screens, The News, June 22, 2012

A lavish international production portraying a Polish king’s historic victory at Vienna in 1683 will be shown in cinemas in 50 countries across the world, its director has revealed.

Some 10,000 extras and 3000 horses were used in Italian film-maker Renzo Martinelli’s epic about the Siege of Vienna, a turning-point in European history in which Polish King Jan III Sobieski helped repulse the Ottoman army from the gates of Vienna.

The role of the Polish monarch was taken by director and occasional actor Jerzy Skolimowski (Essential Killing, dir.), who was joined by other Polish thespians including Piotr Adamczyk, Alicja Bachleda-Curus and Daniel Olbrychski.

F. Murray Abraham, famed for playing Mozart’s nemesis Salieri in Milos Foreman’s Amadeus, plays the central role of Marco d’Aviano, a Capuchin friar who was an advisor at the court of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I in Vienna.

“In my opinion, I think that this film could change people’s perceptions of Poland, by showing that it had the best cavalry in the world and saved Europe,” Martinelli said in an interview with the Polish edition of Newsweek magazine.

Scenes for the production were shot at various Polish locations, including the historic residences of Wilanow, Baranow Sandomierski and Lancut. Battlescenes were shot in Romania.

Martinelli is currently working on post-production, with cinematic distribution scheduled for October.Those countries not showing the film in cinemas will be able to screen the production in the format of a five-part television mini-series. (nh)

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